The administration of The Salvation Army is top-down and autocratic, in true military style, with all positions except that of General being held by appointment.
The General, with headquarters in London, is the international leader of The Salvation Army. This individual is elected from amongst the most senior Salvation Army officers in the world. (A group known as the High Council – made up of Salvation Army Commissioners – is summoned together for this purpose when necessary.) The General directs Salvation Army operations in more than 110 countries of the world through the administrative departments of International Headquarters (IHQ) in London, which are headed by International Secretaries.
In the United States, the functions of The Salvation Army are coordinated by the National Commander, whose office is at the National Headquarters (NHQ) in Alexandria, Virginia
For administrative purposes, the nation is divided into four territories:
The Salvation Army is a participating member in various religious and human services associations, coalitions and conferences having similar principles and practices. Legally, each of the four Salvation Army territories in the United States functions as a tax-exempt corporation with the National Commander as Chairperson of the Board.
Each territory is under leadership of a territorial commander. Territorial Commanders are based at Territorial Headquarters (THQ), where they are assisted by a Chief Secretary and various other Secretaries (departmental heads) responsible for overseeing the various branches of Army activity.
Each territory throughout The Salvation Army world is divided into divisions, which are administered by Divisional Commanders, who are responsible to their respective Territorial Commander. A division is a grouping of districts, similar to a diocese in the Anglican Church. Each division consists of a number of Corps/Citadel and programs, which are mostly run by officers of varying rank. There are 40 divisions in the United States. The Salvation Army's Southern New England Division is one of those divisions.
Divisions consist of Corps/Citadel for worship and service, which are the basic units of The Salvation Army, and various specialized centers. A Corps/Citadel is The Salvation Army equivalent of a church, and often acts as a community center. Each Corps/Citadel is led by a Corps/Citadel Officer who is responsible to their Divisional Commander. The functions of each Corps/Citadel include religious and social services, which are adapted to local needs. Each Corps/Citadel is under the supervision of a Corps/Citadel Officer.
Nationwide uniformity of policy is the responsibility of the Commissioners’ Conference, whose membership includes the National Commander and National President, the Territorial Commanders and the Territorial Presidents, the National Chief Secretary and the four Territorial Chief Secretaries.
Standing commissions devise and evaluate strategic initiatives to further the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army and then make recommendations to the Commissioners’ Conference.
The Salvation Army's fundraising campaigns are conducted on a local and regional basis. There is no fundraising at the national level. The normal sources of funds are the traditional Christmas kettle campaigns, direct-mail programs, corporate and foundation gifts, planned giving, and government contracts. The organization’s stewardship of its funding is noted throughout philanthropy; 82 cents of every dollar collected by the Army goes directly to client service – among the highest percentages of any nonprofit in the world.
Advisory organizations comprised of representative community, corporate, and civic leaders, perform a valuable service by providing advice and acting as liaison between The Salvation Army and the community. The advisory organizations interpret community needs to The Salvation Army and facilitate the development of resources, enabling The Salvation Army to respond to critical community needs. A national advisory board makes its recommendations to the Commissioners’ Conference.
Officers are the clergy of The Salvation Army. They have either completed training as cadets or auxiliary captains and have been ordained and commissioned to officership. All officers are engaged in continuing education. With its Christian heritage and motivation, The Salvation Army continues its unique service to all people in the name of Christ.
Soldiers are those who have signed a declaration of faith and practice known as A Soldiers’ Covenant and worship and serve through a local Corps.
Adherents are people who have elected not to be enrolled as soldiers but consider The Salvation Army to be their place of worship.
Employees are personnel hired to perform specialized duties in fields such as social services, youth service, accounting, development, law, and property.
Volunteers are those who give freely of their time, enabling The Salvation Army to meet far more community needs than otherwise possible.