Current funding model/need for change
Internationally the Salvation Army operates in 125 countries, with funding predominantly coming from the Salvation Army in a small number of Western (or industrialized) nations. Eighty percent of this funding is generated by the Salvation Army in the United States. Western Territory Commander, Commissioner James Knaggs has recognized that the current model of funding for the Salvation Army is not sustainable, and that a new model is necessary for the future. With increasing emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in Western society, Commissioner Knaggs is looking at an alternative model of funding, one that emphasizes corporate partnerships as the way forward.
Definition of CSR
CSR may be defined as an organizational approach whereby corporations assess and acknowledge their responsibilities relating to the environment, employees, consumers and the community. Large corporations that generate a great deal of money, assets and power have been made accountable for their impact on society, often referred to as a ‘licence to operate.’ Rather than engaging in philanthropy by simply providing financial support to community organizations and their projects (e.g. Salvation Army), organizations are becoming increasingly involved in projects that target social change and sustainability. CSR initiatives aid an organization’s mission by demonstrating compliance with the law, ethical standards and environmental legislation. Furthermore, they can generate positive public relations, increase corporate competitiveness and enhance employee engagement.
Salvation Army Brand
As a trusted organization with a high public approval rating, the Salvation Army is an attractive partner for Western companies looking to engage in CSR. Corporate leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that will come from implementing philanthropic endeavours in conjunction with the Salvation Army. This partnership promotes ‘cause-related marketing’ where there is mutual benefit for the two organizations. The Salvation Army Western Territory has also recognized the immense opportunity in partnering with first-world corporations outside of the United States.
Salvation Army and Brazil
One country that is in the midst of rapid economical growth is Brazil. Indeed, over the past few years Western companies have been flocking to Brazil and the country has cemented its place as the seventh largest economy in the world. In times of economic uncertainty for many nations, it is predicted that Brazil will increase its annual gross domestic product by 4.5 percent in the lead up to 2014 and take its place as the fifth largest economy in the world. As the next host of the soccer World Cup, over 250,000 jobs and $24 billion in investment will be generated over the next two years. Indeed, further growth is anticipated following the World Cup as Rio de Janeiro will also host the 2016 Summer Olympics. While Brazil’s recent economic success has seen 20 million people from a population of 190 million rise out of poverty into middle class, much work still needs to be done to improve human rights, labor rights, environmental rights and importantly, reduce corruption.
Government schemes targeting social inequality have been implemented to ease the contrast between rich and poor, giving high priority to discrimination, and discrepancies in salary among women and ethnic minorities. Legislation now requires large corporations to spend a minimum of 2% of profits on initiatives that aim to effect social change. This legislation also applies to Western companies who have opened offices in Brazil. As a result, opportunities for the implementation of new CSR projects over the next few years are abundant.
What has been done so far
The Salvation Army has operated in Brazil since 1922 and has extensive programs that demonstrate classic Salvation Army Corps and social services. Indeed, Brazilians have not forgotten the relief work provided by the Salvation Army for the 83,000 people left homeless following the floods that devastated the north-east in 2010. The Salvation Army has also been recognized for assistance provided to rescue workers following the tragic plane crash at the Sao Paulo airport in 2007 that killed up to 200 people. Over the past ten years the Salvation Army has built constructive relationships throughout Brazil that has seen the successful development and functioning of thrift stores, with profits being filtered back into the community. More recently, the Salvation Army has been carrying out very valuable work, targeting extreme poverty demonstrated in Brazil’s poorest neighbourhoods known as favelas. This work certainly captures the heart of the Salvation Army and beautifully demonstrates its mission aimed at helping the poor and transforming lives.
However, much work still needs to be done to improve living conditions; providing safe shelter, access to food, clean water and sanitation. Due to societal problems, Westerner’s travelling to Brazil to conduct business are often placed in unsafe environments where there is a risk to the safety of individuals and their families.
What will be done in the coming months
Over the coming months, the Salvation Army Western Territory will be connecting Western businesses with offices in Brazil with the Salvation Army in Brazil to implement initiatives aimed at helping the Salvation Army’s work in Brazil. Projects will aim to reduce homelessness and domestic violence, and improve opportunities for education and employment. The Salvation Army understands that CSR initiatives need to be conducted with sensitivity, respect for the Brazilian culture and awareness of community values. Over time, it is hoped that the Salvation Army in Brazil will become self-sufficient by attracting corporate partners. As a result, increased financial support will help the Salvation Army to secure an effective funding model at the international level, and continue to improve the social welfare of people living in Brazil, and throughout the world.