Shawn Reed, Executive Vice President  ●  10/29/2021

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! William Booth Talks Fundraising

William Booth Salvation Army Founder

C.S. Lewis.  William Booth.  Roberto Clemente.  Roseanne Reed.  Each of these people, including my grandmother, rise to the status of saint in my book because of their thoughts, words, and deeds.  And so, in honor of All Saint’s Day, TrueSense Marketing’s Shawn Reed imagined a conversation with one of them, William Booth, about fundraising and engaging donors in today’s mission.  The following communication has been edited for length.


SR: General Booth, first of all, thank you for this time.

WB: Happy to be here.


SR: I want to start by congratulating you on spearheading one of the most significant social service movements in the history of the world.  Did you and your team have any idea that The Salvation Army would loom this large over so many generations?

WB: First of all, I would like to give God the glory.  It was HIS work that was — and still is — being done.  Without a clear call to serve, most of us might have found something else to do.  But the work is blessed by HIS hands, and so in some ways, it has not surprised us that the mission has spread.


SR: Are you surprised by the number of people who have leaned into the work since it began in London some 155 years ago?

WB: I am not, because when the men and women volunteered to help us in those early years, they did so because they were firsthand witnesses to the breathtaking need that was inner-city London at the time.  The poverty was both physical and spiritual, and everyone who came around it was challenged to play some part in creating hope.  They were first moved to change their own hearts, then to seek God’s help as givers of hope, and finally, to action.


SR: Do you believe this somewhat simple approach to mobilization has been one of the reasons for The Salvation Army’s success in fundraising, and therefore also in meeting human needs everywhere?

WB: Yes.  It sounds simple, but it also requires personal sacrifice.  For some who have been blessed with financial wealth, it is often easier to pass along a gift and consider the work done.  But most do not live at the top, so their contributions really are more sacrificial.  There is additional thought, measurement, prayer, and a keen hope that the very most can be made from their giving.


SR: It sounds like you are placing a higher value in small gifts than large ones.

WB: No, I am not.  What I am saying is that all gifts matter, but those made with sacrifice and hope carry with them more investment of heart and mind.  Let’s be sure to not overlook them nor the precious people who make them.


General William Booth Salvation ArmySR: Do you believe that the needs of our time are essentially the same as those in your time?

WB: There are more distractions today than we ever imagined possible.  The world then was changing rapidly, but few would have imagined the ways that industry, science, and travel would transform our generations.  Yet poverty remains, diseases still plague us, ignorance and hate still spark and flare.  With massive movements, cracks are formed, and people fall into them.  More harvest, still too few workers.


SR: How would you challenge us as agents for change to rally more workers?

WB: Seek God’s understanding of each other, clearly speak about needs and the solutions, and appeal to all who can hear.  Find ways to use all of the tools at your disposal to tell the story of God’s grace.  We each need it, and have likely experienced it.  So we, too, have a story to tell, and a hope to give.


SR: Any final words to our readers?

WB: Go, create change, and start now.  Planning is good, but God will cover what you may have missed.  Don’t fear the little work, because all big work is the gathering of the little work.  One meal, one kind word, one prayer, and one request at a time.


SR: Thank you again for your time, and for your inspiration.

WB: May God bless you and those who work in His name.


“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” —C.S. Lewis


Author’s note: What would William Booth really say to me if a conversation through time was possible?  My many years of experience with The Salvation Army — its people and mission — have convinced me that the DNA of his heart and mind have come through even in today’s work.  I am reminded often that the simplest rules of leadership and fundraising have remained successful over time because they are based in serving others first, telling the story second, and asking for help from everyone.


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