Saturday, December 02, 2006

Doing the Most Good?

Is the Salvation Army Dissing All the Rest of Us?

First, there is another good discussion at Ohio2006 about the Voting ID lawsuit. Please check it out including the comments from one of the PD reporters.

Second, what is with the Salvation Army's new motto: "Doing the Most Good?" Is this some kind of slam against all the rest of the non-profit organizations? If they are doing the "most" good, then what is the Coalition for the Homeless or the Red Cross or Y-Haven doing? Is the good we do not worthy compared to their "most good?" Are they challenging all the rest of us? Does this have something to do with their faith that I just do not understand? What does it mean? It seems like those "#1 Dad" shirts that were featured in that Seinfeld episode. There is not a lot of room for others when you declare yourself "the most" of anything. If they are doing the "most good" then we can just go out of business, and step aside so we do not prevent them from doing so much good in our community.

I am not a big fan of the "Army," because they always seem like they cannot be told how to do anything based on their long history. This marketing strategy only reinforces in my mind their superiority complex. I have never found the length of time a non-profit has been in business to be a good thing. I am ashamed that there is a need for NEOCH in the richest country on the planet. The fact that we have not solved homelessness in the last 19 years is a constant source of embarrassment for me. The Salvation Army has existed for over 100 years and they have not eliminated poverty or reduced the human cost of natural disasters in all that time? They have these rigid structures and require funds from the local community go to the national office. They cannot be told that they need to change with a changing time. They did not understand the concept of an entry shelter that did not turn people away when they ran 2100 Lakeside. They were so convinced that punishment was a legitimate strategy for dealing with drugs and alcohol addicted individuals. The Salvation Army has a real hard time playing nice with others especially grassroots, non-traditional organizations.

Now they are doing the "most good." Please someone explain what this means, and why would it make me want to dontate to their famous red kettle.

Finally, the Woodchoppers Ball is this weekend at the Kent Stage. Sunday at 7 pm you can see some of the best guitarists on the planet doing the most good to benefit NEOCH. Please check it out and attend. This year Brian Henke will also produce a CD as part of the Woodchoppers Ball. Look for it during the first of the year.

Brian Davis
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

16 comments:

Clevehomeless said...

This was sent to us by e-mail, but should be in the comments section.

Good Afternoon,

I was skimming news articles on the Salvation Army and the Blogspot for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless was on it. I proceed to read the article. I noticed 2 things: First that evidently the other agencies have an inferiority complex in thinking that they too couldn't possibly consider themselves "Doing the Most Good." Or secondly couldn't live up the to the promise. You see instead of sitting back and waiting on someone to tell me what the Salvation Army was trying to say I contacted them to find out what the "Doing the Most Good" was all about. It was explained to me that this is a Promise that The Salvation Army has pledged to it's clients and to it's donors. It pledges to it client that in every situation/ circumstance that The Salvation Army will Do the Most Good. It then pledges to the Donor that it will Do the most good to help individuals of the community with every resource provided. In researching this I also found that out of every $1.00 given to the Salvation Army $0.83 cent goes to client services be it Meals/ lodgings/ counseling/ rehabilitation for chemical dependencies/ groceries/ rent assistance/ gas assistance/ utility assistance. That leaves only $0.17 cents to cover overhead which would include utilities/ employee salaries/ employee benefits/ gas of official vehicles/ fundraising. That to me seems as though they are "Doing the Most Good"
I hope this was of some assistance to you!


Avid Salvation Army Supporter,

Patrick

Clevehomeless said...

It is not clear on their website what "Doing the Most Good Means." I still do not understand from your explanation why they are claiming to do the "most" good. It is still a comparative statement. Were they not doing good in the past and now they are on the right track? I don't like it or understand it.

By the way, NEOCH spends only .13 on administration/fundraising.

Brian

VISTA Josh said...

Technically, "Doing the Most Good" would be giving the entire $1.00 out of every $1.00 donated. $0.83 out of every dollar is a whole lot of good, but $0.84 is more, so $0.83 cannot be "the Most."

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that there is a competitive mentality in a sector where there is plenty of misery - people in need - to go around.

To your point that the Salvation Army has yet to resolve all of the issues relative to poverty, if you are a Christian,(and no inference of judgment if you are not) I refer you to scripture where Christ states "The poor will be with us always."

The reference to "Doing the Most Good" comes out of a comparison to the average amount of dollars most charities spend on overhead, as was stated in the prior response.

It also ties to the statements Peter Drucker made about The Salvation Army. I don't have it handy, but I'm sure you can google it. An endorsement by Peter Drucker is pretty heavy hitting.

Finally, remember, any form of marketing has a certain measure of bravado. With the long history (that you disparaged) of the Salvation Army, I say they back it up.

Anonymous said...

...regarding The Salvation Army's fundraising efforts and results...that 83 cents of every dollar going to programming...and the remaining funds 17 cents left for all administrative costs...what you do not know is that the Majors help themselves to those programming costs by hiding their salaries and expenses in those areas. The joke is on Joe Public who is still buying into this fascade of doing the most good. Just ask any Salvation Army Major or officer, they will never devulge the keys to the kingdom they have all created for themselves. I

Anonymous said...

I'm truthfully not sure what all of this 83 cents from every dollar business is. Truthfully, I don't like the USA Salvation Army's slogan for exactly this reason: it gets misinterpreted quite easily. I like our slogan here in Canada much more: "Giving Hope Today."

That said, as far as I understand it, the slogan comes from a quote by one of the Salvation Army's founders: "There is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need." - Evangeline Booth

I know this post is several years old at this point, but I figured I would weigh in on it regardless.

Anonymous said...

It is a part of a greater quote from Evangeline Booth: "There is no reward equal to that of doing the most good for the most people in the most need." The Salvation Army, and perhaps other organizations, promises to "Do the most good..." The Salvation Army requires no other reward or compensation for their actions than knowing that they have helped. I think most non-profit organizations think similarly. It is ashame that it is considered a "competition" or "threat" by a few. Many people find hope, joy, and perhaps even comfort in these words. Please consider that any quote taken out of context results in misunderstanding.

Clevehomeless said...

Dear Anonymous:

Thanks for your insight, but it is a slogan. How much context can a person derive when riding next to a Salvation Army vehicle that says "Doing the Most Good?" What is the context except that we are doing more good than anyone else in the community? It is one thing to have the full quote with its alliteration, but to shorten it to "Doing the Most Good" it loses its original punch and I would say its meaning. I don't think that it makes sense as a slogan, and demonstrates the pitfalls of trying to sum up all that you do to fit on a bumper sticker. Sorry, but it does not work no matter how much the Salvation Army folks try to assign meaning to it.

Brian
ClevelandHomeless

Anonymous said...

The Salvation Army does do the most good. Sorry if that hurts your feelings but the number of people that they serve and the ways in which they serve them far surpass any other non-profit that I know of. OK - so that may not be what they meant by it, but it's still true. Children's homes, camps, clubs, after school care, runaways shelters, and etc., homeless services, disaster services, aid to police, fire, national guard, military, aid to victims of domestic violence, traffiking, etc, senior citizen services in inexpensive housing, meals, meals on wheels, clubs, adult day cares, inner city rejuvenation, on and on. The shield is almost as recognized around the world as Coke and McDonalds logos.

Anonymous said...

To the individual stating that the "Majors" "hide their income and expenses", please refrain from speaking about things in which you have no understanding. Just because you heard that at one point doesn't make it true. Nor does your experience with one "Major".

I'm a big Salvation Army supporter and I think it's a shame that people go on these sites and spread hearsay. Get a fact, then come present it. Keep your vagaries and generalized accusations to yourself.

As for "Doing the Most Good". That's a legitimate discussion with legitimate argument on both sides; for both meaning and representation. Personally, I like it, because I understand it, but I think it's dangerous for those that don't. That's my two cents anyway.

Anonymous said...

http://corps.salvationarmyindiana.org/princeton/schedule/what-does-doing-the-most-good-mean/

This may help

Anonymous said...

Hard to help people make sense of anything when all you desire to be is critical. Imagine your impact if you used your spare time and energy for helping others rather than over analyzing organizations that do help.....being part of the problem is so easy. Take a chance and try being part of the solution.

Anonymous said...

For the record, one reasons that they use this quote is that in Evangeline Booth's (she was the 4th commander of the salvation army and the first female)book "The War Romance of The Salvation Army", she wrote "there is no rewars equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need." Thats where it comes from....so do a little research next time please, and don't just spout off stupid stuff, this is not Fox news

Cleveland Homeless said...

This is the problem in trying to turn some profound quote into a bumper sticker slogan. It loses its meaning, and all of us traveling on the street behind a Salvation Army truck have no idea who the Booth family are or all the acts of charity they performed. All we know is that the Salvation Army is proclaiming they are doing more good when compared to every other non-profit struggling to do some good. It is like trying to summarize the preamble to the Constitution so it will fit on a bumper with "A More Perfect Union." Yes, those words are in the preamble, but unless you know all the other words it does not capture the complete thought of establishing justices, the general welfare, etc. It was a good try, but the marketing folks who came up with "doing the most good" need to go back to the drawing board. It really does not work for the average person on the street who sees it on the side of the truck and thinks that it is braggadocios.

Brian Davis
Cleveland Homeless

Anonymous said...

"When moved to activity by the apparent need, there was never a thought that our humble services would awaken the widespread admiration that has developed. In fact, we did not expect anything further than appreciative recognition from those immediately benefited, and the knowledge that our people have proved so useful is an abundant compensation for all toil and sacrifice, for service is our watchword, and there is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need." - Evangeline Booth

That's where the tagline comes from.

Cleveland Homeless said...

Again, we have seen this comment before and it does not explain the slogan on the side of vans. It is like taking a really nice speech and trying to boil it down to a bumper sticker. It is like boiling the Gettysburg Address to the phrase "Hallow this Ground." Booth had a very eloquent speech about the mission, but all that meaning and substance is lost when it four words are pulled out of his speech. I am sorry that people misunderstood my comments. It was not to say that the Sal Army was not working toward a better world or were arrogant. I was just saying the quote was too easily misunderstood. The Salvation Army does not need a slogan. They have the shield and a brand. They don't need a slogan that sounds condescending.
Brian
Cleveland Homeless