The Man Who Owned the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth, a dedicated altruistic soul who ran it until his death in 1912.

But he also had to be a canny businessman, and in 1878 he had the entire holdings of the enterprise put into his name as sole proprietor.

image

That paragraph above comes from this Australian newspaper, which state that at time of Booth's death the Australian holdings alone amounted to "over half a million pounds."

I find the figure of £975,000 for worldwide holdings from this 1912 biography of Booth. An online inflation calculator for British pounds figures that sum equals £81,700,000.00 today.

So the selfless General was a multimillionaire when he was Promoted to Glory and passed on the Sally to his son Bramwell.

I can't find any data on when the Booth family gave over control of the Army to some kind of board of directors. I assume they did. Did they?

Does any WU-vie have the answer?
Posted By: Paul - Mon Sep 23, 2013
Category: Charities and Philanthropy, Money, 1910s





Comments
Yes and no on the answer. The Salvation Army is, most likely, and to the best of our knowledge, the one charity where your donation(s) actually end up doing some good instead of lining the pockets of the directors and other do-gooders.

That said, the best form of government, if/when it can be found, is a benevolent dictatorship and if the Booths qualify for that elusive title then so be it.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/23/13 at 09:28 AM
A dictatorship, in any form, can never be described as good.
Posted by F.U.D. in Atlanta/Stockholm on 09/23/13 at 11:36 AM
Sorry, but that just isn't true. I've lived under such but, like the old saw goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The problem is the permanence.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/23/13 at 12:00 PM
A democracy will vote to have bread and circuses every day.

A BENEVOLENT dictator will say we will have bread and soup every day with a circus on Friday. Plus we will have indoor plmbing.
Posted by BMN on 09/23/13 at 12:39 PM
A dictatorship, IN ANY FORM, can never be described as good.
Posted by F.U.D. in Atlanta/Stockholm on 09/23/13 at 12:41 PM
Here are a couple pertinent links, with snippets therefrom.:

http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_charities_salaries.htm
"W. Todd Bassett is no longer National Commander of the Salvation Army. The current National Commander, Israel L. Gaither, is paid somewhere between $79,389 and $243,248 annually for his services. (Since the Salvation Army, as a religious organization, doesn't report its expenses to the IRS, the only available figures for executive salaries are estimates, which vary greatly from source to source.)"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Salvation_Army
"The Salvation Army is a Christian denomination and international charitable organisation organised in a quasi-military structure"

"In 2004, The Salvation Army said they would close operations in New York City unless it was exempted from a municipal ordinance requiring them to offer benefits to gay employees’ partners. The City Council refused to make the exemption. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration chose not to enforce the ordinance. The administration's right to decline to enforce the ordinance was upheld by the New York State Court of Appeals in 2006.[45]

On December 15, 2012, in Canada, Andrea Le Good noticed a Salvation Army bell-ringer carrying a sign reading "if you support gay rights: please do not donate." The charity's website describes marriage as heterosexual by definition, and a previously published document called on homosexuals to embrace celibacy as a way of life. The same document also states that there is no scriptural support for the mistreatment of homosexuals.[46]"
~>*<~

It would appear that they don't radically overpay their "National Commander", but I couldn't find anything on who is above him or ho pays him.
While they help a lot of people, especially in natural disasters, their anti-LGBT stance weighs against them, so whether they're ultimately "good" would be in the eye of the proverbial beholder. Personally I find any organization that discriminates detestable, but of course other bigots (and there are a lot of them) will support them.
Posted by Cindy in Evansville, IN on 09/23/13 at 01:14 PM
Thanks for the Snopesing, Cindy!
Posted by Paul on 09/23/13 at 02:23 PM
A dictatorship is the most efficient form of management/government. It's also the quickest to respond to emergencies and changing environments -- that's why the captain of a ship is an absolute dictator while at sea.

People who disdain dictatorships in all situations have a very shallow worldview.

The SA's stance on LGBT issues doesn't concern me -- they follow a religious code which came into being because it guaranteed the greatest good for the greatest number in a society a few thousand years ago. There's a certain nobility in sticking to an unpopular moral code. As long as they're not pushing for their beliefs to become laws, where's the harm?

What does concern me about the SA, and why I no longer donate to them, is the pretentiousness rampant in the lower ranks -- they're always right, and it's not worth a minute of their time to do something that would bring an extra thousand into their coffers. If it isn't convenient for them, it must be wrong.

Maybe they need a new dictator, someone with the vision to make the organization relevant in the 21st Century.
Posted by Phideaux in in his own little world on 09/23/13 at 02:24 PM
A dictatorship is the most efficient form of management/government. It's also the quickest to respond to emergencies and changing environments -- that's why the captain of a ship is an absolute dictator while at sea.

People who disdain dictatorships in all situations have a very shallow worldview.

The SA's stance on LGBT issues doesn't concern me -- they follow a religious code which came into being because it guaranteed the greatest good for the greatest number in a society a few thousand years ago. There's a certain nobility in sticking to an unpopular moral code. As long as they're not pushing for their beliefs to become laws, where's the harm?

What does concern me about the SA, and why I no longer donate to them, is the pretentiousness rampant in the lower ranks -- they're always right, and it's not worth a minute of their time to do something that would bring an extra thousand into their coffers. If it isn't convenient for them, it must be wrong.

Maybe they need a new dictator, someone with the vision to make the organization relevant in the 21st Century.
Posted by Phideaux in in his own little world on 09/23/13 at 02:25 PM
I'd like to know if the S.A is still taking in orphans to train them as drummers in their bands? wink
Posted by KDP in Madill, OK on 09/23/13 at 03:54 PM
He was not "sole proprietor", but rather "sole trustee". That's not a common arrangement for a charity, and by all accounts Booth was an autocrat, but at least in theory the government and the courts could have reined him in if he did not use the organization's funds for charitable purposes.
There's a bit of relevant information in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica: http://archive.org/stream/encyclopaediabri24chisrich#page/98/mode/2up
Posted by Peter Smith in Washington, DC on 09/23/13 at 05:15 PM
Well-sleuthed, Peter!
Posted by Paul on 09/23/13 at 09:11 PM
It is unfortunate that those who believe so strongly in some parts of the bible ignore other parts. 'Judge not lest ye be judged.' 'That which you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me.' A simple question always comes to mind when I think about this, If God chose to give us free will then why can't we give it to each other?
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 09/23/13 at 10:41 PM
The trick with a benevolent dictatorship is maintaining the benevolence. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and there needs to be some pretty powerful measures in place for the dictator to resist the corrosive environment.
Posted by tadchem on 09/24/13 at 05:26 AM
tadchem - that's why a benevolent dictatorship only ever works in the short run, and only ever in special circumstances. The Romans understood this, which is why their dictators originally had a strictly circumscribed scope and length of reign - as, for example, Cincinnatus so beloved of USAnian political expostulators. It appears from Cindy's research that Mr. Booth understood it, as well.
Posted by Richard Bos in the Netherlands on 09/24/13 at 11:56 AM
Bramwell, his successor, was removed in what can only be described as a Salvation mutiny. Presumably, if the trust had not been widened at the time of William Booth's death (which it probably was), it was altered then.

There is something of a Precedent in John Wesley, who was autocratic leader of the Wesleyan Methodists until his death, but at that point control passed to the Conference, a collective body. As with Booth, Wesley was the founder of the organisation, and the autocracy came from that fact.
Posted by Pastor G.N. on 09/26/13 at 02:20 PM
Oh Booth family I knew what they did!
Posted by Dan Fox in Caloundra, QLD, 4551 on 12/05/13 at 12:25 AM
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