Social economy institutions include four major types of organizations; non-profit organizations, co-operatives, mutual insurers, and unincorporated associations and in some nations, an organization must bear independence from the state to be regarded as one (Quarter, 2). However, financial dependence is still present in some institutions to develop such organizations for the benefit of the community. All institutions under this category are founded on the grounds of voluntary participation and membership, and their duties are controlled by their social objectives without the aim of making a return on capital.
The organizations deliver services to members or the people they intend to serve without making use of the market, and besides that, most of them rely on donations in the form of service of money. Majority of social economy institutions play fundamental roles in addressing some of the needs which cannot be met by private and public institutions (Quarter, 2). The positive impacts associated with the former include; promotion of economic and social development as well as improving delivery of public services.
There is potential in the future for nonprofit organizations to change the face of economies through facilitating development through their activities. Therefore, this article aims to analyze The Salvation Army as a social economy institution on a historical perspective.The Salvation Army was founded in London in 1865 by William Booth, but at its beginning, it bore the name East London Christian Mission which was later changed to the Christian Mission before adopting its present name (The Salvation Army International). By the end of 1865, The Christian Mission had ten workers, but ten years later, more people joined thus raising the number to over 1000 volunteers who worked for the group. Between 1881 and 1885, the church had attracted almost 250,000 recruits (The Salvation Army International). Booth, an ordained minister, worked tirelessly to create more and more converts daily and introduce them to Christianity but later on, upon realizing that they did not attend any church, he hatched the idea of a church and came up with the East London Christian Mission. During the early period after its founding years, Booth and his wife preached to people in the streets, and that is how most listeners converted to Christianity. Besides his ministry, Booth was actively engaged in providing food and shelter for the poor as well as rehabilitating alcoholics (The Salvation Army International).Together with his wife Catherine, the duo was determined to fight poverty and religious indifference hence the military structure. Women were accorded ranks similar to men, and their projects commenced with providing food within the forsaken neighborhoods of London as a way of offering both physical and spiritual help to the poor (The Salvation Army International). However, immediately after its establishment, some people in British criticized the operations of the organization, citing peace breaking. Thus some recruits and members of the institution were often faced with imprisonment and fines. In 1878 when the church acquired its current name, Booth chose to organize it in a quasi-military design with officers bearing various officer ranks and Booth, the leader, being the General and new members were referred to as recruits (The Salvation Army International).The organization has been a renowned charity organization since its establishment. In 1880, they opened the first U.S branch in Pennsylvania, and when the Great Depression struck, affecting scores of people, the church stepped in to offer help in the form of food and shelter (History, 1). During the world war, the church members worked together with the armed forces to provide voluntary help to distressed individuals. Over the subsequent years, the church operated through this structure, and it gradually rose to popularity, spreading from Britain to most parts of the world and at present, it has spread to over 100 nations (The Salvation Army International). The former duties have been maintained to date, and The Salvation Army still has a firm standing in evangelical, educational, medical, and social work activities globally. Currently, the Salvation Army operates evangelical centers in several countries, hospitals, alcohol, and drug rehabilitation centers, social work centers, and emergency and disaster management and response centers to offer help to the community (The Salvation Army International).The Christian non-profit group has managed to give rise to more services and sub-ministries such as the first ever food bank, first nursery institution for children from disadvantaged families, and the first missionary hospital. Their military services similarly played a fundamental role in the establishment of the USO (United States Organizations) which is a top military organization whose aim is to support military service members and their families (The Salvation Army International). Besides, they are expanding to more countries with new program developments aimed at showing compassion to the community. The team began their campaigns in the 1880s with the aim of expanding to various nations such as Ireland, Australia, France, North America, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. By 1890s, they were already expanding to Hawaii, Iceland, and Japan then they moved to Russia and the Caribbean Islands. By 1920s, their campaigns were already spreading to African nations (History, 1). Throughout their activities within the new countries, their programs were centered on impartial treatment for all, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, children, and women. They set up programs including; family tracing service to locate lost relatives, medical fellowship, youth congresses, and a college to train workers on being effective leaders. The institution is also credited with achievements specifically in the field of health and human services by setting up hospitals, food depots, and prison-gate homes for ex-prisoners after leaving prison (The Salvation Army International).Dubbed An Army of Volunteers,’ the organization adheres to its mission of doing the most good for people in need, and they achieve their targets through the combined efforts of loyal volunteers, supported by a Christian mission (The Salvation Army International). At present, there is the Salvation Army archive which was founded in 1979 through the interest of Cyril Barnes, an officer from the organization. Several developments followed to form the International Heritage Centre which contains materials related to social service.As a non-profit organization, the issue of governance bears much importance within the organization and its operations since poor governance can paralyze progress (Moulton, 1). The governing body employs seven fundamental principles of governance and the principles of wisdom, spiritual leadership, and discernment which ensure good governance is put into practice. The first principle is the distribution of authority and responsibility such that within various nations, authority which was previously centered on individuals and leaders has been shifted and they adopted a consultative and servant leadership whereby power is distributed broadly (The Salvation Army International). The second principle which the organization works under is marking a distinction between governance and management functions instead of having both as a single unit because that is the most appropriate way through which accountability can be maintained. Again, there is increased sovereignty of the governance structure to facilitate decision making about major issues (Moulton, 1). Governance also focuses keenly on the principle of gender equity to ensure that both men and women are given equal opportunities without any impartiality, especially in leadership. Mutual accountability is another principle which is vital for the non-profit organization to improve transparency about policies and operational processes to enhance the efficiency of the institution (The Salvation Army International). There is a detailed mix of skills base and stakeholder representation, but this area still needs adjustment since the organization requires more skills in the form of legal capabilities and legal skills as a strategy for strengthening organizational activities. Additionally, there is a combination of operational and strategic thinkers to strike a balance and promote the creation of innovative ideas (Moulton, 1).Concerning the principles above of governance, the organization has shown commendable effort and development over the years in transparency especially handling resources and accountability for projects. However, certain principles have been in place but have not been successfully implemented since the establishment of the institution. Servant leadership has not been implemented effectively due to lack of flexibility in operations thus there is dire need to consider and lay more emphasis on putting into full force a different leadership style as a strategy for improving good governance (Moulton, 1). Therefore, a viable step towards enhancing transparency in the organization would be increasing the number of officers who are well acquainted with the local communities and understand their local needs in the process of strategy development (Moulton, 1). Again individual responsibility can also promote transparency in carrying out duties because every individual is held responsible for their conduct. The Salvation Army has well-stated guidelines and disciplinary processes for officers to keep corruption cases in check as a way of living up to the mission of the organization, based on the values of fairness, justice, empathy, and service to all (The Salvation Army International). Since its establishment, the Salvation Army governing body can attest to gradual developments in various countries due to their charity activities. The development projects have significantly improved, and in nations where there are social service contracts with other partners, the contracts have shown positive feedback. The institution aims to preach the gospel and reach out to more people while meeting human needs without any discrimination (The Salvation Army International).One important aspect that the organization needs to improve on is having a functioning board of directors tasked with overseeing risks and controls since an advisory body cannot effectually carry out the duty. Nonprofit organizations operate for the good of the community and not for their benefit, but theft cases may be typical especially when there is a lack of internal controls (Moulton, 1). The board operates through following up on accountability to make certain that resources are utilized well and funds are not vandalized but instead, used in helping the poor. The rationale behind having a working board is because charity organizations are associated with overstretched resources, volunteers, and a high tendency to trust people. However, people with ill intentions can take advantage of the vulnerability that comes with trusting people; thus there should be a diligent board with adequate competency and autonomous authority which can be applied in generating accurate reports and maintaining control (Moulton, 1). Failure to implement this strategy may translate to a loss of donations and more suffering for the individuals who genuinely need help. Moreover, in the public eye, more people are likely to withdraw from giving donations when they realize that some end up in the hands of fraudsters and cannot be accounted for.The Salvation Army as a nonprofit entity has undergone a lot of developments through the course of its history since its establishment in the 1880s. The principal goal was to reach out to many people through the gospel and fight against discrimination and poverty. This objective has been achieved through charity across countries globally, hence increasing the popularity of the organization. They have helped disaster victims, the poor, alcoholics, and many groups without discrimination whatsoever. Good governance is a critical factor for such an organization because donations from stakeholders and well-wishers are commonly at high risk of mismanagement if there is no proper governing body. Currently, there have been multiple failures of individuals to protect the best interests of different stakeholders and the uprightness of such institutions hence there is a pressing need for improved governance. A review for governance within the Salvation Army is highly motivated by two factors; first, to ensure management is founded on a theological base to promote the effectiveness of the organization and uphold its purpose. The second motivating factor is to ensure the organization meets the necessary standards for continued recognition of the institution as a religious and charitable organization, with the accompanying rights and privileges. Therefore, society requires a successful governance structure at all levels which will align with the mission, and that is fit for its God-given purpose at present. The structure may be represented by a framework of guidelines by which a major policy-developing group guarantees fairness, transparency, responsibility, and unprejudiced behavior in the organization’s relationship with all stakeholders.