Case Study of Red Cross and Salvation Army

Executive Summary

The recent increase of natural disasters in Australia especially in Queensland has called for an increase in the not-for-profit organization’s help in the management of the disasters. The Australia Red Cross and the Salvation Army are two such organizations involved in the rescue of people and relief provision.

Red Cross was set up in 1914 in Melbourne and its main duties are in disaster management, blood collection and donation, first aid, and International humanitarian law training and tracking of missing persons. Most of its operations are donor-funded and through government grants.

Its organizational structure is hierarchical with a decentralized system of operation and has a democratic kind of leadership style. These aids in the faster and efficient delivery of service. Service is carried out based on the fundamental principles of operation, i.e., impartiality, independence, universality, neutrality, humanity, and unity.

Salvation Army was set up in 1880 and is Christian-based. It is mainly involved in evangelism and counseling. In addition, it helps low-income earners and has set up various programs for drug rehabilitation, foster homes, day-care centers, and prison work.

Its organizational structure is hierarchical with a centralized system of operation. The General is the major decision-maker and exercises an autocratic type of leadership.

Red Cross and Salvation Army both are involved in social work but the major difference is Salvation Army is church-based and participates a lot in community work, unlike the Red Cross.


On the morning of 2nd February 2011, a super cyclone (cyclone Yasi) struck Queensland. Though the damage was minimal and no property was reported lost, the flood was fairly extensive (New Apostolic Church International (NACI) 2011). This is just one of the several natural disasters to have occurred in Australia. In the majority of the cases, the property is destroyed, people are left homeless and without food, shelter, drugs, or money. In such instances, the need for charity arises. Charitable and humanitarian organizations in Australia have been set up to aid in disaster and emergency management among other services. These include the Red Cross and Salvation Army. These two organizations offer other services apart from disaster management such as blood donation services, tracing of lost people, caring for the old, and rehabilitation programs. In this paper, we look at the general overview of the Red Cross and Salvation Army and their various management aspects.

Red Cross Society, Australia


Red Cross Australia falls under the larger arm of the International Red Cross organization with 186 territories worldwide (Australian Red Cross 2010). The history of the International Red Cross society dates back to 1859 in Italy where one, Henry Dunant, witnessed the after effects of the Solferino battle and decided to come up with a strategy to help the wounded. In 1863, together with others, he formed the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded to offer humanitarian help. It was later renamed International Committee of the Red Cross. In Australia, the Red Cross Society was formed on 13th August 1914 in Melbourne as part of the British Red Cross by Lady Helen Munro (Australian Red Cross 2010).

Red Cross society aims at ensuring the reduction or prevention of any form of human misery (Australian Red Cross 2010). Therefore, the society is charged with the responsibility of protecting and preserving health and life to all people irrespective of their race or nationality.

According to the Australian Red Cross (2010) statistics obtained from a survey carried out in 2008-2009, Red Cross Australia consists of 2058 members of staff, 28573 volunteers and 23569 members. The Red Cross is involved in various humanitarian activities to aid in bringing relief or improving the lives of the affected people including tracing of refugees, disaster relief, blood donation and collection, first aid and international humanitarian law training, helping asylum seekers and, providing health, care and safety services. Most of the funding of Red Cross activities comes from donors like the profit making companies, government and individuals. The Australian government has established a program aimed at reducing the disaster menace. In 2007, it agreed to give $15million so that the risks of disaster could be reduced by implementing the Hyogo framework for action (Australia Red Cross 2011).

As a society, the Red Cross has been able to achieve a lot. The figures for the assistance offered obtained from the survey carried out in the year 2008-2009 are shown in table 1 (Australian Red Cross 2010). Between 2008 and 2009, the blood collected and stored in blood banks helped 1,326,252 people. This is a large number considering the number of lives lost due to insufficient blood donors. In addition, 89,764 people were helped in disaster stricken areas.

Service No. of people assisted Volunteers and staff assisting
Disaster relief 89,764 8,391
Blood donations 1,326,252 3,655
First aid training 96,985
Refugee tracing 2,151
Health and care 4,274 4,328
Asylum seekers assisted 2,548
IHL training 11,122

Table 1: Statistics on Red Cross achievement

Management aspects

Organizational Structure

An organizational structure is a hierarchical way in which an organization distributes its staff and authority to ensure all employees are involved in making decisions in the company (‘Employers forum’ ND). This helps in ensuring customer retention and a reorganized workflow which eventually leads to the accomplishment of a particular goal (Fontaine 2007). An organization could assume a centralized structure whereby decisions are made only by the top management or a decentralized structure where various levels of decision making exist.

The Red Cross society has adopted a decentralized system. The structure consists of a council, Board, blood donation board and territorial divisions. Committees such as the blood donation committee and the international humanitarian law exist who are involved in decision making. The organizational structure of the society is shown in figure 1.

Organizational structure of the Red Cross
Fig. 1: Organizational structure of the Red Cross

Since Red Cross handles emergency issues and help, decision making within the organization should be fast hence the decentralized system is very effective.

Leadership style

The existing leadership in an organization is very critical regarding its performance. If a dictatorial style is adopted, then performance might be lower. This is due to fear or lack of input from members (Cherry ND). A democratic kind of leader allows members to participate in the decision making process and offers guidance where differences arise. Application of all forms of leadership styles should be done if an organization’s goals are to be met (Clark 2010). A leader should also be visionary and a pace setter.

Democratic leadership is applied in Red Cross. As seen from the organizational structure, many levels of leadership are present. The presence of committees dealing with various service issues also ensures that diversified views, ideas and suggestions are applied and implemented to offer efficient and fast services to people.

Diversity of management

Diversity refers to variety. In an organization, employees differ in terms of the gender, skills, learning styles and age. An organization maintains its integrity if it does not discriminate against a person based on their gender, age, level of skill, disability or rate of learning. The advantages of diversity in an organization include low cost of training staff because of various skilled people who are allowed to apply the creative skills or talents, high turnover in the organization, customers are provided with very good quality service, higher employee morale and reduced rates of absenteeism.

Red Cross uses diversity management in managing the organization. All its volunteers are people from all caliber of life. No discrimination is applied during the recruitment of volunteers and while handling emergency cases. The principles of neutrality and impartiality are applied when services are being offered and during volunteer recruitment (Australian Red Cross 2010). Diversification is also seen in the wide range of the services offered. For instance, the youth camps target mainly the youth and the safety& health services target all people.

Volunteer recruitment

In 2004, the Tsunami disaster occurred. Most people were displaced while others died. Help was needed urgently and the number of volunteers required was large. During a disaster, most people register to render their services in the recovery efforts. Nevertheless, the capacity of the organization to handle large intake of volunteers is limited hence critical analysis of volunteer management should be done before recruitment takes place (‘Third Sector’, ND). Factors to be considered include:

  • The capacity for the organization to handle, educate and train the volunteers so that they can have the mandatory skills to perform efficiently the assigned work.
  • Ways of improving the volunteer program.
  • Maintenance of standards when volunteer exercise is being carried out. This involves recruitment, orientation, supervision and training.
  • The effect of selecting many volunteers for a short duration on the organization.

These are just some of the considerations organizations should ensure they are met and adhered to (‘Third sector’ ND).

Red Cross has a strict policy on volunteer recruitment. Coupling with its principles of impartiality, humanity, neutrality, independence, unity and universality, registered persons are interviewed and selected irrespective of their gender or disability and imparted with the necessary information according to the needs of the organization. The recruited people are required to adhere to the principles, be non discriminative and comply with statutory regulations. The organization ensures that a safe environment is provided for its volunteers; their work is recognized and their efforts rewarded and are provided with necessary training and support tools (Australian Red Cross 2010).

Salvation Army Australia


Salvation Army Australia is under the larger umbrella of the Salvation Army operating in about 106 countries worldwide (The Salvation Army 2011). William and Catherine Booth founded the Salvation Army in 1867 with the aim of reaching out to the needy through evangelism, i.e., sharing the Gospel with them and social needs (Reeves ND). The founders of the Salvation Army in Australia were John Gore and Edward Saunders and the Church was set up in 1880.

The Salvation Army has purposed to reach out to people by preaching the gospel and helping people without any form of bias or discrimination (The Salvation Army 2011).

The Salvation Army has currently a work force of about 4,000 in various capacities. It was voted the most trusted charity organization in Australia by 25% of those interviewed (Cavill 2011) and this indicate the level at which people recognize it and its efforts in community development. Through consistent advertising and appeals, the Salvation Army was able to increase its trust stake.

The Salvation Army is involved in many charitable services for low income families together with evangelizing the word of God. The services offered, include prison ministry, rehabilitation centers, foster homes for men, day-care centers, children’s camp centers, outback flying service, disaster and emergency services and tracing of lost persons.

The Salvation Army has been able to achieve a lot since its inception. Many programs have been set up to help people in various aspects of life such as drug addiction, inmates in prisons, aged people (by setting up foster homes), setting up of day-care centers and children’s holiday camps. The organization also helps people who need spiritual care by counselling and offering prayer. During the 2004 tsunami, the Salvation Army sent about 5000 personnel to help with the reconstruction of the affected areas. Moreover, in 2004 it set up the first problem gambling center in Sydney to help those with gambling issues (The Salvation Army, 2011). In 1995, a rural chaplaincy was created and it helps farmers together with their families in spiritual care. The financial counselling center set up in 1994 guides people in financial matters thus reducing their over reliance on welfares (The Salvation Army 2011).

Management aspects

Organizational Structure

The structure of the organization consists of the general at the helm with the chief of staff being second in command. It is hierarchical and centralized whereby the top management, i.e. the general, makes all the decisions. It is divided into territories (at the country level) and subdivided into divisions. At the divisional level, it is divided into the Corps and the social service. The Salvation names its different levels of organizational structure using military names. This is their unique identifier.

Organisational structure of the Salvation Army
Fig. 2: Organisational structure of the Salvation Army

Leadership style

As stated, the types of leadership in an organization influence the performance of that organization. The Salvation Army has adopted an autocratic style where the General (at the international level) is in charge. He makes the decisions and the Chief of staff builds those decisions by liaising with territories. The international office also makes the strategic plans of the Army and allocates resources. The type of style is commanding and is the most used in organizations (Wall Street Journal 2011).

Diversity management

In the Salvation Army, diversity management is also strongly applied. Majority of their volunteers are church members (both men and women) and as can be expected, they possess different qualities. Since they have a wide range of services being offered, a variety of talent and skill are essential for their smooth implementation and operation (The Salvation Army 2011).

Volunteer recruitment

Volunteers are an important part in this organization due to the nature of the social work undertaken. Most of their work is community based and very diversified hence many different skilled people are required. During recruitment, the volunteers are informed of what is expected of them in terms of adherence to the national standards and the organizational policies and culture. Furthermore, being ranked as the most trusted organization has increased people’s confidence in it hence many people are willing to join as volunteers.

Comparison between Red Cross and Salvation Army

Red Cross and Salvation Army Australia can be compared and contrasted with respect to the type of work undertaken, nature of service offered, extend of service and workforce or volunteer numbers.

Social work

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are involved in social work that necessitates helping the needy; assisting people during an emergency; tracing lost people and so on both relying on donors (companies and individuals) and government grants for funding since they are non-profit organizations. The Australian government has been funding charities, for example in the 2010 budget, 60% of all the money that had been set aside was to go towards aiding Asian countries (Australian Red Cross 2011). When the financial year of government is not very good, the likelihood of the government cutting down on its budget could be high and this causes a negative impact on the charities.

Services provided

Salvation Army is a church organization dealing mostly with evangelism including counselling and prayer requests. In addition, they run foster homes for the aged, children’s camps, day-care center, drug rehabilitation centers, prison ministry, financial counselling service and a thrift store. Red Cross is involved with blood donation services, first aid and international humanitarian law training. Salvation Army is more community based unlike the Red Cross (Recomparison 2011).


Both the organizations rely on volunteers for aid in their humanitarian and social work though Red Cross has many volunteers compared to the Salvation Army. This is because Red Cross handles mostly natural disaster cases which are of greater magnitude while the Salvation Army is involved with community center services and evangelism besides natural disaster cases. Moreover, the volunteers in the Salvation Army are mostly the members of the church with a few exceptional cases.

International services

Red Cross offers more support internationally when disaster strikes and its staff camp in an area for long unlike Salvation Army volunteers. The Asia Pacific region still experiences high rates of poverty. The Red Cross has partnered with the communities there to develop projects (Australian Red Cross 2011). In Africa, the AIDS rate is high and most people are poor and Red Cross has expanded its wings to that continent to aid people with HIV and AIDS issues (Australian Red Cross 2011).

Organization management

The leadership styles of the two organizations differ greatly. Whereas Red Cross has a democratic type of leadership, the Salvation Army has an autocratic kind of leadership. One individual makes all the decisions in the Salvation Army. The general whose is based at the international headquarters is the sole decision maker. All the territories carry out the decisions made by him. At the Red Cross, the board is the chief policy maker arm of the organization. It is composed of various members hence diversified opinions are availed and implemented by the National Management team.


Two non- profit humanitarian organizations have been discussed. The Red Cross and Salvation Army organizations both carry out humanitarian and social work in the society such as disaster management, blood donation service, tracing of missing people, counselling and prayer request sessions, caring for the aged, providing training for first aid just but to mention a few. The efforts and work of the organizations have gone a long way to help the needy and less fortunate in society so that they too can live a comfortable life.


After a thorough research on the Red Cross and Salvation Army organizations, a decision on the funds distribution has been made. This decision was reached after analyzing the following scenario: both organizations are involved in humanitarian work. Natural disasters in Australia have been on the rise lately such as the cyclone and flood necessitating the need for more emergency funds to help in management. Red Cross deals mostly with disaster management as compared to Salvation Army who help the needy in society. The less fortunate in society also need a good place to live in and a comfortable life, the prisoners also need counselling and visitations. Since both cases are of urgency and result in saving a life, we, therefore propose that the $200,000 should be allocated on an equal basis between the two organizations.


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New Apostolic Church International (NACI), 2011. Natural disasters in Australia, first a flood then a storm. 

Recomparison, 2011. Differences between Red Cross and Salvation Army

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