MINOT – After struggling through COVID and then inflation, the Salvation Army is making plans to try to bring its donation numbers back up.
John Woodard, captain of the Minot area Salvation Army, said the organization in Minot had a shortfall in 2022, which would be the second year in a row that has happened.
“When we have two years in a row, that becomes a little bit of an issue,” said Woodard. “We’re trying to figure out what we can do to make sure that’s not a trend for us.”
In 2022, volunteers for the bells and kettles went up, as well as donations from those kettles, but the mail appeal and its donations suffered a little bit, said Woodard.
“I don’t know exactly why that is,” said Woodard. “I can speculate it was the economy and inflation. People don’t have as much disposable income as they did before. They’ve been generous though. People have been generous.”
Both volunteering and donations were a struggle in 2020, which Woodard guessed was due to COVID. The year 2021, though still not back to normal, proved slightly better for the organization, as Woodard said it typically does better in a crisis. Now, while many are willing to volunteer in-person again, inflation has created a new problem for donations.
“It’s not a desperate situation,” said Woodard. “It’s not like we have to close or anything like that. We just want to make sure we’re as relevant as we were before, and what we can do to try to persuade donors to give to us.”
Some of those efforts include more fundraisers throughout the year. The Salvation Army plans to set up the bells and kettles on the weekends in July, to make for a “Christmas in July.” Other plans are activities for youth.
“Usually the community responds well here,” said Woodard. “I’m positive about the situation. I’m not trying to promote a bleak picture. It’s just a more real picture.”
The national Salvation Army received allegations over a year ago asking white donors to apologize for their racism, as well as that being the reason donations are down across the country. Woodard said he has no response to that, but would direct people to watch a video where the national commander responds to those allegations.
Woodard also said those who donate to the Minot area Salvation Army can know that their donations will stay local, and 90% of donations go right into programming.
“There are operational costs that are there, and we try to limit those as much as possible,” said Woodard. “A lot of volunteers help out.”
The Salvation Army is also a church with services every Sunday, located at 315 Western Avenue.
“If a kettle is not staffed, we have an 80% chance that people will not put something in that kettle,” said Woodard. “But if we do have it staffed, we have a 90% chance that somebody will give. “
The money then goes to help people in the community who are in need, whether it be helping them with food, rent, or other. Woodard said the number of people who need help is still going up.
“It’s a hundred percent about people and helping people, motivated by the love of God,” said Woodard.
The Salvation Army has been in Minot for over 100 years. Woodard said it was on the frontlines of the 2011 flood, giving food and pastoral care to those devastated by the flood.
The Salvation Army also has The Pathway of Hope program to help people get out of the cycle of poverty.
“We would never turn anyone away, but the Salvation Army leadership wanted to develop a program to help these people in this way and get them out of that,” said Woodard. “Jesus says you will always have the poor, but we believe that they don’t have to stay that way. Nobody really wants to stay there, in that cycle.”
The program usually lasts a year, though some people stay in the program longer than that. Woodard said it is a successful program, with many people graduating from it with better jobs.
More information on the Minot area Salvation Army can be found on its website.