By: BIANCA BARDEN
FEBRUARY 24, 2020
One of the biggest complaints from the general public has been how the money is being spent by the charities. The Salvation Army was no exception to the perception that as a charity they too were putting a portion of the money they received into administrative costs, and/or delaying giving the money to those in desperate genuine need.
The Salvation Army is a little different to the St Vinnies and Red Cross appeals. When people originally donate to the Salvation Army, they initially do so by way of pledge, (an undertaking to make good on your promise to donate money) at a later date. In other words, whilst the Salvation Army made the claim they had received a total of $43 million dollars, it was at that time only ‘pledged’ money. The actual amount of money actually received by the Salvation Army is far less, while they wait hopefully that people will honour the pledges they made.
As of the 11th February, the Salvation Army has actually received more than $18 million of money pledged. Of that $18m, the Salvos have distributed $11.9m. More than $7,064,000 has gone towards immediate emergency relief efforts for first responders and evacuees, while $4.86 million has been distributed in the form of hardship payments directly to people in need.
According the Salvo’s website, The Salvation Army is establishing a dedicated Bushfire Recovery Team, nationally coordinated and locally embedded. The BRT will lead the Salvos’ engagement with federal, state, regional and community groups.
Bushfire Recovery Team services will include financial assistance and counselling; a dedicated telephone line where workers can assess and deliver material aid; outreach workers embedded in local communities across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and; caseworkers based in communities to deliver holistic assistance, including financial, emotional and psychological response.
The one area The Salvation Army has been criticised for by the LGBTQIA community is its supposed homophobia. However, when looking for public examples of this actually occurring, it was hard to find. It also lies in stark contradiction to their mission statement: “It’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name, without discrimination”.
On the 5th February, the ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, addressed concerns raised about charities use of funds for the bushfire relief in a column published by The Australian. The Salvation Army elected to reproduce, with permission, the full article on their website.
"The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission does not run charities, it does not tell them what to do. But, if they stray from spending their money on the cause for which they were established, we can step in and put them on the right path or deregister them.
Most important, we do not need an excuse to demand to see the books; we can step in at any time and for any reason.
Now is not the time for such action. Let charities get on with the complicated business of delivering their services to those who suffered in the bushfires.
In six and 12 and 18 months we will audit some accounts, and ask questions as to how the money is being spent."
On the 6th February, Love Australia or Leave Party made direct contact with the Salvation Army media liaison. We were instructed to send our questions via email to which they would respond. We posed questions such as: Can you explain the difference between short-term, medium term and long-term assistance and how that is implemented? Does the Salvation Army take a percentage of donations for administrative costs, and if so, how much? Does the Salvation Army receive any kind of government grants, be it state or federal?
Love Australia Or Leave Party held off the posting of this article to afford The Salvation Army adequate time to respond. As of the 17th February, our email questions remain unanswered and no response has been received.
Our research of the Salvation Army didn’t highlight any areas of gross misspending of donated funds. This doesn’t necessarily mean it hasn’t occurred, only that we were unable to locate evidence of this.