Since its earliest inception, The Salvation Army has provided the basic necessities of life – food, clothing and shelter – to those struggling with hardship. Its founding philosophy in fact was "Soap, soup, salvation" – in that order, said founder William Booth, since hungry people can't pay attention to salvation.
The registered charity has been operating in Canada for 134 years, making it not only one of the longest running, but also the largest social service agency in Canada after the government, serving more than 1.9 million people last year.
From Christmas hampers to job retraining and (increasingly) food banks, these services are dependent on donations from citizens. Some are spur of the moment – coins dropped into red Christmas kettles or purchases at the local Sally Ann store. More and more, planned gifts – money designated for a future donation, usually after death – are making a huge difference to struggling families.
"Planned gifts are vitally important to the work we do," says Lois Flemming, territorial director of major gifts and planned giving. "Last year, for example, approximately 23 per cent of our annual charitable donation revenue came from legacy gifts. The majority of those were bequests made in donors' wills."
"When people have hope they have a chance for a better life."
- Lois Flemming
is territorial director of major gifts and planned giving at The Salvation Army
Leaving a bequest is easier than most people realize, says Ms. Flemming. Everyone should have a will and update it on a regular basis. Bequests can easily be changed or removed if circumstances change during the donor's lifetime, and Ms. Flemming says even people with modest incomes can make significant donations since planned gifts are often made from people's assets. For example, homes purchased many years ago may yield greatly appreciated value once they are no longer needed. Supporters are increasingly bequesting securities rather than cash proceeds from their estates because securities gifted directly to a charity are exempt from capital gains tax.
"The key is that your future gift is really going to create a brighter future for somebody," says Ms. Flemming.
"And the Army will use the funds wisely as it strives to operate its services in the most cost-effective way possible."
While the Army has expanded its offering, the nature of its services is largely the same as it was a century ago. Regardless of how complicated or sophisticated our society becomes, basic needs remain the same: food, shelter, clothing. And hope, adds Ms. Flemming.
"When people have hope, they have a chance for a better life," explains Ms. Flemming.
"One of the comments made most often by donors that were clients or knew a client is that the Salvation Army never really gave up on them. It stayed and provided the support they needed to build that hope until they were strong enough to help themselves."
Operation Smile is an international humanitarian medical charity that provides free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, palate or other facial deformities.
In 2015, Operation Smile:
• Provided more than 15,000 surgeries;
• Conducted 161 medical missions across 112 sites in 29 countries;
• Had 73 per cent of its medical volunteers coming from low- to middle-income countries;
• Continued to train, educate and empower local communities to build sustainable health-care systems; and
• Benefited from 364,932 hours of medical volunteer time.
Operation Smile is focused on delivering immediate results today and creating a lasting impact for tomorrow.
Visit www.operationsmile.ca to learn more.
This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.