How popular is the Salvation Army?

While there are many large, national charities agencies in the United States, the Salvation Army may be one of the biggest as well as most popular. They operate across the country in sites ranging from thrift stores to churches, community centers, summer camps, rehab centers, and dozens of other locations. The charity relies heavily on donations as well as volunteers, so give back if you can.

The faith based charity also advertises on TV and in local communities. What you may be most familiar with seeing is the famous Red Kettle, and this operates mostly during the holiday season. There will be people (mostly volunteers) ringing bells with pots collecting money outside various locations in the United States. But they also collect many other things for the public, ranging from food to school items, toys, and more. You may also be familiar with seeing some of the TV ads or radio placements as well, as the charity is always involved in helping their local communities.

If the Salvation Army is not the most popular and well know charity, both in the US and the entire world, then we are not sure who is! As the Army is literally a world wide charity, operating in dozens of countries. Find your local Salvation Army center as well. They also do a great job at raising money and using it wisely, as over 80% of what is donated to the charity is used to keep the missions operating, help the poor, and assist those in need.

So how big is the presence in the United States? It one world, it is enormous! The most recent data, from 2016, shows that over 25 million people used one or more programs. This is around 8% of the American population, so one in twelve people. That 25 million is also equivalent to about 50% of Americans that may be living in or near poverty. Those are incredible numbers and show the popularity of this organization. Even with the economy improving there are still tens of millions of families that apply for their social services.

There are over 7,500 different Salvation Army centers located in the US. To put that into context, McDonalds has over 14,000 restaurants, and it seems like we see one of those on every corner. So while the Salvation Army has “only” half that number, 7500+ centers is incredible. This means there is at least one Family Store or Social Service center in every community in the US.

The make-up of those locations is wide ranging. There are over 300 Boys/Girls Clubs; ~1400 Corps Centers or outreach sites; 275 Senior citizens centers; 2800+ Family Service Units which often give financial aid; 4 training colleges; 1237 Thrift stores; 555 shelters or transitional homes; and literally hundreds of other sites in the US. Those are some big numbers.

The Salvation Army is a popular place for all sorts of financial and material aid. During 2015 over 56 million meals were served to the needy; 7.5 million cash grants given for paying bills; over 10 million nights of lodging; and 18 million basic needs addressed. Many other types of assistance were given.

The numbers go on and on, and they all show how popular (and needed) the services are. 230,000 kids went to summer camps; 15 million+ accessed social services; 1.2 million received transportation for work or medical reasons; and on and one. One stat jumped out to us though…272,000 were helped at a time of disaster. As that service and response is one of the core Salvation Army services.

How about the people that work there? Can you say over 3.7 million? Now most of that is volunteers, which is great to see! In fact, 3.2 million of the staff is made of of volunteers who give back. They ring the Red Kettle, run the thrift store, and do much more. There are a few hundred thousand regular staff members as well, both full and part time. So millions of Americans work and/or volunteer at the Salvation Army.


  1. Edwina Donaldson

    Hi, They ain’t help! I’m trying to find help to pay my light bill. I’m on disability and I call Salvation Army but they don’t have no plans and they can’t pay it right then and there and my bill is due on the 15th next month. What good are them?

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