The Salvation Army was founded in London in 1865 by a former Methodist preacher and his wife. International headquarters for The Salvation Army are in London, but the organization has a presence in 127 countries worldwide. The Salvation Army’s United States headquarters are in Alexandria, Virginia.

Because the organization has status as a Christian church in addition to being a charitable organization, full financial disclosure and filing of an IRS Form 990 is not required. There have been several allegations of The Salvation Army mismanaging funds and even making a profit on donated physical items.


Rank Chart
Total Income
Program Percentage
Our Score

The Good

  • Program percentage
  • Donor communication
  • Awards

Program Percentage

On average, The Salvation Army spends 82 percent of its income on program delivery. Some of the programs that the organization maintains include:

Support for Adults

  • Adult rehabilitation
  • Veteran affairs
  • Prison ministries
  • Elder services
  • Combating human trafficking
  • Missing Persons

Support for Children and Families

  • Hunger relief
  • Housing and homeless services
  • Youth camps and recreations
  • Christmas assistance
  • Kroc centers

International Aid and Disaster Relief

  • Sponsorship
  • World service

Donor Communication

The Salvation Army has a robust presence on social media and provides regular updates of its programs. The organization maintains social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


In May 2016, The Salvation Army was recognized with the STEM Education Leadership Award for its support of STEM programs. This award was presented by Nasdaq and EverFi.

The Bad

  • Total income
  • Administrative expenses
  • Fundraising expenses
  • Accessible financial information
  • Negative press

Total Income

Because The Salvation Army is registered as a religious organization, there is no federal requirement for the organization to file Form 990s, which is one way that charitable organizations illustrate their transparency. However, The Salvation Army did report income of $4,111,013 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014. The organization does not offer much financial information about other years on its website.

Administrative Expenses

The Salvation Army has not disclosed the salaries of its top executives. On its breakdown of expenses for the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2014, $407,934 or 12 percent of The Salvation Army’s expenses were paid under the “Management and General” category. There is no explanation from The Salvation Army about the specifics of this category.

Fundraising Expenses

In 2014, The Salvation Army reported that it spent $217,887 or 6 percent of its expense budget on fundraising.

Accessible Financial Information

Finding financial information on The Salvation Army’s website is straightforward; however, there is an overall lack of financial information available. This lack of transparency may raise questions for some.

Negative Press

The Salvation Army was named as one of the “Top Greediest Charities” by Business Pundit in May 2011. The publication accused The Salvation Army of owning high-end real estate (worth at least $900,000) for its executives. Additional accusations include selling properties gifted to the organization for profit and suing Greenpeace over a confusing clause in a will in an effort to rob Greenpeace of an inherited gift.  The Salvation Army has also been criticized through the years for its supposed mistreatment of the LGBTQ community.

The Bottom Line

The Salvation Army is a nonprofit organization with history dating back to 1865. The organization frequently communicates with its donors and has a respectable program delivery percentage. However, The Salvation Army is not very transparent about its financial information and has received some negative press in the past.

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