Charities And Charity Organization
( Originally Published 1915 )
The Philosophy of Charity. The common meaning of charity is the giving of alms to the poor or the help of the sick. What is popularly known as charity in modern times is called alms in the Scripture and in other ancient writings. What is called charity in the Scripture is merely love or a wide human sympathy. It may apply in its widest sense to all classes of people, whatever their condition, to whom sympathy and aid may be given. In its more modern and scientific sense charity means the help of the poor, the weak, the sick and helpless. Charity organization signifies the means of administering relief by a cooperative method. Charity has become in modern times a social rather than a, merely individual function as well as an individual matter. It has become chiefly a means of protecting society at large and of encouraging normal social health and growth. Society seeks to protect itself by caring for the weak in order to prevent social disease and degeneration. The normal healthy social structure is made stronger by warding off pauperism, by preventing insanity, epilepsy, imbecility, blindness, and deafness, as well as by caring for the afflicted. Certain philosophers, Herbert Spencer among the number, have advocated the development of the strong by making them stronger and neglecting to care for the weak and decrepit. They hold strictly to the doctrine of the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. Hence, properly to enforce this principle of natural evolution, the efforts of humanity should be devoted to the improvement of the best of the stock, rather than to an attempt to uplift the defective, out of which nothing strong and normal can come. They go so far as to say that if the weak and diseased members of society were all left to perish, the strong would then perpetuate the race, and thus gradually the weak would be replaced by the strong.
This is a good evolutionary principle in the absence of a conscious agency to supplement Nature's selection. Nature's chief method of securing a more perfect adjustment to existing conditions, so far as modern science has come to definite conclusions, is by the elimination of the ill-adapted. As soon, how-ever, as Intelligence appears upon the scene Nature's slow methods are supplemented by conscious adaptation to natural conditions. Nature by eliminating the hairless animals produced after millenniums long-haired animals to withstand the glacial cold. It is man, however, since the domestication of animals, who by the introduction of intelligence into the breeding process has, to put it from the standpoint of results rather than of method, bred the legs off and put hams on the hog, developed the race horse on the one hand and the draft horse on the other, brought forth the spineless cactus, produced the numberless varieties of various kinds of fruits and cereals. It is still done by elimination in part, but elimination has been supplemented and hastened by conscious selective breeding instead of by Nature's tardy processes. What man has actually done to secure these results so speedily is to select those varieties for breeding which show the qualities he wishes and to prevent the propagation of the undesirable kinds. The slow and wasteful method of Nature, therefore, should not be allowed to work out its results in humanity without some restrictions. Society is so closely organized and the relations of its members so intimate that the strong to protect themselves must be mindful of the weak. As well may the head say that it cares not if the hand is diseased so long as body, heart, and head remain, for indeed the disease may spread until head, heart and body are involved. Hence, if for no other reason than its own protection, society must care for the weak and the defective. Also, because if society practiced utter selfishness, it would lose interest in humanity, and altruism, and even sympathy would decline and the human race be weakened on account of the loss of its best social qualities. Charity, then, when properly ad-ministered, may protect and help the weak, prevent the spread of weakness, and make the strong stronger by unselfish activity.
Universality of Charity among Nations. -- Charity or alms-giving is a very ancient practice, common to all nations after a more or less permanent social life was established. The Hindu, Egyptian, Persian, Hebrew, and Chinese philosophers have all uttered lofty and humane sentiments in regard to the consideration of the poor, and means of relief are recognized in many of their laws. In Athens a poor tax was regularly levied and collected. Aristotle advocated the relief of the poor, not by a tax but by a more permanent method of distributing the land in small parcels among the needy, that they might become self-supporting. While most savage tribes care little for the poor or for the aged, the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru made provision for these classes. The former taught that the poor should be helped and the latter provided homes for the care of orphans. The Jewish synagogue was a center for the distribution of alms and the Hebrew commonwealth had wise provisions for the care of the poor. As the synagogue at first was the meeting place of the Christians it continued to be a center for the distribution of alms, and its successor, the church, followed its example. It is noteworthy that one of the earliest officers to be appointed in the primitive Christian organizations was the "deacon" whose chief duty was to look after the poor in the church.'
Many of the problems that confront us to-day in regard to the administration of the charities, troubled the ancient nations, although it must be admitted that, with all of the fine precepts of philosophers, real charity was sadly wanting, in most in-stances, when it came to the practice of genuine help to the needy. The sayings of the wise in charity as well as in religion were far different from the doings of the people. And in the ancient nations, as in many modern, the practices of government and social order were such as to create the conditions of poverty more rapidly than they could be relieved, even under the best administration.
The main defect of the ancient methods of charity was that the chief motive to almsgiving was personal interest. Through superstitious fear, men were urged to give, that they might thereby enjoy the favor of the gods. " He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord," are the words of the Hebrew Sage. This sentiment was repeated a thousand times in the writings of the Fathers of the Christian Church. In fact, it remained the chief motive down to very recent times and has not lost its power even today. The motive being egoistic did not create an earnest desire to help the poor, and led the people to careless and indiscriminate giving, thereby creating paupers and beggars. The poverty-stricken wretch of ancient society excited the pity of benevolently disposed people, but through the teachings of the church he became " God's pauper," and giving to him opened to the giver the doorway to heaven. Temporary relief was usually the extent of the aid given, and no systematic efforts were made to give man a permanent help. Hence, no organization was attempted. To give alms was to throw a piece of money to a beggar with the hope that he would soon be out of sight and out of mind. While this was one of the chief characteristics of ancient almsgiving, it has not entirely departed from modern charity. Many seem to give to relieve their con-sciences or to get rid of the importunate solicitor, with the vague hope that the person may be benefited. And by some, giving in the abstract is still considered a means of grace.
Giving among the Romans. As the Roman system was widespread at the time of the appearance of Christianity, it is necessary to refer briefly to the condition of affairs especially subsequent to the foundation of the Empire. The history of the separation of the people of the Republic into two classes, one made up of the nobility and the patricians representing all of the wealth and political power, and the other representing the plebeians, is too familiar to need repetition. As the former class possessed all of the wealth and controlled the means of wealth, the latter came to expect alms or support from the former. As the former maintained their power through political position, the latter paid for support by means of their votes. The mob finally became large and dangerous and difficult to manage ; yet he who sought power in Rome must reckon with its demands, for there was no middle class to maintain the equipoise of social and political life. All labor had been degraded by the introduction of slavery until it was considered ignoble to engage in any pursuit except politics and the proprietorship of a landed estate. There was no other alternative than that one class should be supported by the other, and, hence, the poorer class expected gifts from the rich and powerful.
After the establishment of the Empire these conditions became greatly exaggerated. At the time of Augustus, it is estimated that 580,000 persons received relief in the city of Rome. The custom of the emperors, when elevated to the throne, to give large gifts to the people became general among all those who held political position.
When it became known throughout the Empire that gifts of corn and wine were scattered freely many flocked to the City to be fed. While pauperism was not general through the provinces, Rome became overburdened with people seeking alms.
To allow the poor to live, attempts were made to regulate the price of corn, and Caius Gracchus succeeded in making the price of a Roman bushel five asses, or less than the cost of production. This, of course, caused a falling off in the production and shipment of corn, and as a consequence corn was distributed gratis to the populace. Then followed a careless or indiscriminate distribution of corn, and later of oil and wine as well, which increased from year to year and reign to reign. To give some estimate of the extent of these gifts by politicians, demagogues, and public officials a few general statements will suffice. In 73 B.C. it is estimated that gifts amounting to $438,500 in value were distributed; in 46 B.C. it had increased to $3,375,000 ; in Augustus Caesar's time 320,000 men received aid or grants of corn, and the number increased from this on. The annual distribution from Nero's time to the end of Severus's reign rose to a value of $1,500,000. This was, of course, done by the officials representing the State. But this amount was greatly augmented by office seekers and demagogues who could keep their places at the public crib only by dividing the spoils with the mob. It is estimated that Nero, during his reign, disposed of food, etc. valued at $96,500,000 to the people and that Hadrian gave food, etc. valued at about $165 per capita to the people of Rome. It is difficult to ascertain the exact amounts, but even though these estimates are only approximate they give us some notion of the enormous expenditure. But this could not be called charity in its best sense, but rather a systematic method of developing pauperism. It established the right of the needy citizen to demand and receive help from the state. The Romans did something to provide protection to all people who resided within their territory, and especially those who were Roman citizens, but there was really little sympathy for people who were in distress. Even in ancient Rome the exposure of infants who were deformed was advocated, and it was considered better that the aged should die and not prove a burden to the community.
Philanthropy was by no means unknown, however, among the Greeks and Romans. We must not permit Uhlhorn's prejudiced position in his thorough but unfair work, Christian Charity in the Ancient Church, to blind our eyes to the fact that the people among whom Christianity entered as a " gospel of love and charity," as Harnack calls it, had cared for the poor from sympathy for them before charity was polluted by political motives. Human sympathy is not limited to Christianized peoples ; it lies at the basis of all societies in every age, as we have seen. It was the mainspring of charity in Greece and Rome before it gave way to the passion for political domination in the period of the disintegration of the early, efficient social bonds. Doubt-less the contrast between the charity of the Greek and Roman cities of that day and that to be seen among the early Christians aflame with the passion of a new brotherhood and with a heightened sense of membership in a new and heavenly society was striking enough. The charity of the Christian Church, however, was fine enough not to need the factitious splendor of a false contrast.'
Charity of the Christian Church. The early Christian associations had for one of their cardinal points the care of the poor of their own membership. The teaching that all men were brethren made it necessary that brotherly love should abound. The Church found itself diametrically opposed to the Roman doctrine and system which it found in existence when it entered the Roman Empire.
With a widely extended sympathy for all humanity the Church began its work of permanent help to the poor, the suffering, and the downtrodden. Against the calculating political nature of the Roman politicians, it set forth the warm heart-love of fellowmen. Upon the downfall of the Roman Empire the Church soon absorbed all of the charitable work of the time.
With the passing of time, however, and the Church's succession to the place of power occupied hitherto by the Empire, the ethical motive was contaminated by the selfish motive of thus securing the favor of Heaven for the giver of alms, and thus forging one more chain with which to bind men to the Church. Instead of the old political motive of the Roman statesmen, the Church substituted the commercial motive of securing by almsgiving a treasury of grace. The foundations of such a doctrine are to be found, in truth, as early as the writings known as the Shepherd of Hermas and the Second Epistle of Clement.
Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, wrote that alms are the means by which we wash off any stains contracted subsequent to the cleansing of baptism). Christianity in her conflict with barbarism attempted to bring all men within her fold by appealing to motives already familiar to them, and did not scorn to appeal to such motives in order to secure gifts for the poor.
This was a kind of giving which existed for the benefit of the giver alone. According to theory, all gifts to the poor were gifts to God, and those who furnished the gifts received their reward in heaven. Therefore, giving became a means of direct salvation to Christians, a part of their religion. This is a vicious principle, for when carried far enough it makes religion irreligious and charity uncharitable. When it comes to turning over lands and estates to be given to the poor, for the sole benefit of the giver, it results in a system of selfishness. Nor is that all, for it leads to corruption of the society which obtains funds on the pretense of insuring the salvation of souls in return for the loan.
Yet, it must be added, the Church cared not only for members of its own little societies but also for those with whom it came in contact, especially after the establishment of monasteries. These it established throughout its realm, and they became asylums for the poor and oppressed. It built hospitals and pre-pared homes for the care of the poor, and preached to the whole world the lesson of charity and brotherly kindness, with a new earnestness born of the most powerful sanctions.
Results of the Charity of the Church. The power which the Church obtained through the decline of the Roman Empire came to her in part legitimately through well-rendered service. In part, the service rendered was for the selfish purpose of securing adherents. Consequently with that power came the responsibility of caring for all of the subjects within the realm of the Church's authority. The result was a burden too great to be easily borne.
On account of the indiscriminate giving on the part of the Church, which believed in treating all people alike, thousands took advantage of it and grew up in indolence and became veritable paupers, willing to draw a large part of their living from public sources. So during the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the modern period, the results of the lavish hand of the Church began to appear in the thousands of all classes of every description who clung to ecclesiastical and lay associations and institutions for their own support. No one could censure the Church for indiscriminate giving, if he granted the premises upon which almsgiving was based. Moreover, there was no careful consideration of the effects of this indiscriminate charity. The need was great. There was no strongly organized government, and the Church was practically the only existing agency of help. When one considers the dense ignorance still prevailing concerning the true principles of charitable relief, he is prepared to deal leniently with the one institution of the Middle Ages which was attempting in any organized way to meet the needs of men.
Charity of the State. When society became thoroughly feudalized, each person had his place and his support, such as it was, and there was little need of almsgiving. On the decay of this system of government the number of poor increased enormously and the burdens of the Church became so heavy as not to be borne without the assistance of the state. Gradually the nascent nations of Europe began to adopt measures of relief. First to do so on a large scale was England.
At first laws were passed for the regulation of labor with the object of keeping the laborer in the state of servitude which the feudal system had created. Among these laws passed during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was one whose object was to repress vagrancy. (r2 Richard II.) When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, vagrancy increased and laws were enacted intended to diminish it. Subsequently vagrancy laws were made more severe (Ed. VI) and provision was made to raise funds for the poor by appointing collectors in each parish. The Church was still the dispenser of charity. It was not until Elizabeth's reign, however, that the state took a vigorous interest in charity and that the power of administering it was shifted from the ecclesiastical to the civil authorities. A series of laws was passed which finally culminated in the statute of 1601 (43 Elizabeth), known as the foundation of the English Poor Law. Laws followed, from time to time, which modified and improved this act until a complete state system of poor relief was established. These laws in many respects were salutary but their unwise administration had a tendency to increase pauperism and consequently enlarge the expenditures for its relief. In the care of the poor the state had reached the conclusion that all of the needy poor should receive help and as nearly all laborers were needy the conclusion was inevitable that they should receive aid. Expenditures increased, until in 1783 the amount for poor relief was, according to Fowle, £2,004,238 ; in 1803 it had increased to £4,267,965, and in 1818 it reached its high tide in the sum of £7,870,801, the population at this time being only 11,000,000.
In 1834 the Poor Law was revised and the administration was reformed. Subsequent acts have continued to modify and improve it. The nation still suffers from the evils of a previous short-sighted policy. Although it possesses the most elaborate state poor relief system in existence, no nation has greater burdens to bear from pauperism.
Hamburg-Elberfeld System. In striking contrast with the comparative failure especially of outrelief in England is an experiment first tried in a Prussian city. About 1765 there arose in Hamburg a new method of dealing with paupers and poverty-stricken people. During the middle of the eighteenth century and toward its close the number of helpless and wretched people had increased greatly throughout Europe. A movement for the assistance of these people arose. A general wave of benevolence and charity spread over Europe. While it caused the relief of the helpless, it was so lacking in intelligence and system as to be a detriment rather than a help to society. Hamburg was a rich city, having been engaged in trade with the East and West for many years. It was cosmopolitan in nature and attracted thousands to the city, either for work or for a living without work. The streets were lined with beggars, thousands of people receiving help from all sources. Finally, a society was organized in Hamburg among the citizens, whose chief aim was to promote a better system of government. To this society a certain Professor Bόsch presented a novel plan for the care of the poor, which was finally put into operation. He organized a central bureau, and divided the city into districts, appointing an overseer in each district. The helpless were taught to help themselves, work being supplied where they could not find it ; people were forbidden to give alms at the door ; an industrial school was provided for the children ; hospitals for the sick ; and in fact a general system was established for the care of every one according to his needs and deserts. It worked a complete revolution in Hamburg. It drove out the paupers or put them to work. It relieved the distress of children and educated them to industry and self-support. It cared for the sick, and repressed begging on the streets. The transformation was quite complete. Thirteen successful years were followed by a decline for a time.' The system was revived, however, and the idea spread to Elberfeld, a small German town, which applied the system with some modifications in 1852 so that the Elberfeld system, so well known among charitable workers, was in reality the original Hamburg system slightly improved.
A summary of the Elberfeld system here may be of service. The city is divided into 564 sections. Within the confines of each section are included about 300 people, but with not more than four paupers in any one section. Over each of these sections is placed an almoner, as he is called. The almoner is the official with whom each needy person comes into first-hand con-tact. To him the needy of that section make application for help. He then inquires carefully into all the circumstances of the case. If convinced that the family needs relief he gives it himself. He must, however, keep in close touch with the family by a visit at least once in two weeks. He gives relief according to a minimum standard set down by law. Any income the family may have is deducted from this minimum so as to make sure that it is not getting more than enough to supply the bare necessities of life. He not only supplies relief, but also is sup-posed to keep a general oversight over his district and act as adviser to any whose circumstances may indicate the possibility of falling into dependence. He helps secure employment for the unemployed, medical help for the sick, and offers advice to the improvident and dissipated, or in case of the incorrigible, reports them for prosecution. He loans sewing machines and tools belonging to the municipality to those who may thus be kept from want. These almoners are appointed for three years and service is compulsory, on pain of loss of the franchise from three to six years and an increased rate of taxation. The best citizens are thus secured for this work. They serve for a long term of years, being reappointed again and again, society thus securing experienced men. For example, among 600 almoners recently appointed one had served 49 years, 19 over 30 years, 81 over 20 years, and 268 over 10 years. The office is considered such an honor that it is frequently sought by the best citizens, being considered the first step on the ladder to political office in the municipality. These almoners are usually unpaid, although in some places where the system is in use, some of the officers are paid.
Fourteen of these sections are organized into a district over which is an overseer whose business it is to preside at the fort-nightly meetings of the almoners, where the reports of all these almoners are considered and a minute book prepared for the Central Committee of nine which is over the whole system in the city. This committee meets fortnightly also but on the night following the meeting of the district meetings. Indoor relief also is controlled by this Central Committee, the overseers and almoners having no connection with that. In many places both men and women serve as almoners. These almoners are chosen from all classes of the population, not from the upper class alone.
In every city where the system is in existence a large army of men and women of at least average intelligence are interested in the problem of poverty, not after dilettante fashion, but by first-hand acquaintance.
Efficient service is secured because it is personal and intimate. With no more than four cases to look after it is possible to show true neighborliness.
Constructive philanthropy is possible not only because the system supplies personal treatment for those who already have fallen into poverty, but because it makes the almoner an instrument of prevention. He is a father to the fatherless, an adviser to the foolish, and serves as the connecting link between the inefficient individual and society which so often is only a lifeless abstraction or a heartless automaton to the poor.
The value of the system, however, is indicated in these figures : In spite of the fact that the population of Elberfeld increased from fifty thousand in 1852 to one hundred sixty-two thousand in 1904, the number of those receiving either temporary or permanent help increased from 4000 to only 7,689, or a decrease from 8 per cent of the population to 4.7 per cent. The cost of relief per capita of population in 1852 was 89 cents ; in 1904 it was 88 cents including expense of supporting the almshouse, orphanage, and kindred institutions.
It may be added incidentally that the system as administered in most of the cities of Europe at present has some defects. The almoners, although not trained for the work, make their own investigations. It is quite likely that it is not done as well or as tenderly as the trained worker would do it. They give relief themselves, a practice which organized charity on the basis of long experience elsewhere condemns. The Elberfeld system will not work even in Germany without the aid of carefully devised poor laws. As Mr. Almy has remarked, however, these defects are not inherent in the system, and could easily be remedied. Certainly the results in lessened poverty justifies the hope that its essential features may, perhaps in modified form, be introduced into this country.'
That the Elberfeld system is not adapted without some change to cities of all sizes and conditions is shown by the experience of Hamburg. As the relief system was originally organized at Hamburg there were a number of defects which account for its failure. The number of cases looked after by one almoner was from twenty to as many as eighty; the duty of the almoner was consequently limited to receiving applications for relief and more or less careless granting of aid at first without frequent enough reinvestigation ; and the records and materials bearing upon the cases and their administration were not collected in one central office. In 1892 a reorganization was begun. An expert was employed to assist in the reorganization of the system. As a result of this reorganization requirements were adopted making the visitors more independent of the central office than before, and making the districts not only independent but also giving them such rights as the nomination of superintendents of districts and of new helpers, and considerable power to vote aid. Hamburg dropped the small district system of the Elberfeld system because it had been found in Hamburg that with its rapidly shifting population some districts would soon come to have no needy and others would have many. Hence, the new Hamburg system also did away with committing a given needy person to one almoner. A district is laid out with a superintendent at its head. He selects his helpers in number according to the need of the district. He receives the applications for aid. He assigns the cases to the person who he thinks will best fit that particular case. That case may be left in the hands of this person or after some trial it may be given to another better fitted to deal with it. This plan also enables him to give to the man of leisure more cases than he gives to the busy man, and to adapt the helpers to the particular case in hand. This system differs also from the Elberfeld system in granting relief for a longer period. In the Elberfeld system relief is granted for only two weeks. In the new Hamburg system the dependents are divided into classes, one of these containing the aged and the sick and such others as are in a condition not likely to change soon may be granted an allowance for six months, all others for not more than a month, until the next session of the council. The new Hamburg system has another feature not found in the Elberfeld system, a body composed of the superintendents of the districts and called a Kreis, or circuit. These constitute an appeal board to hear appeals from the districts, to discuss matters of concern to all the districts in their circuit, and to consider and care for cases which need institutional care. The chairmen of these circuits are members of the central board. The central board has much the same duties as the Central Committee of the Elberfeld system. It is the court of final appeal, conducts investigations into conditions in the city bearing upon poverty, makes general rules and regulations under which the various poor officers operate, and decides the larger and more general policies. It has as its clerical agency a business management. Through this central agency all applications for relief must pass.
The system has worked remarkably well in Hamburg and has been adopted with success in a number of the larger cities of Germany.'
The Indiana System. While space will not permit a full description of the system of poor relief which has done so much to make that state a leader in the administration of poor relief, especially out-door relief, in the United States, a brief outline will serve the purpose, perhaps, of indicating what can be done with a carefully devised plan of administration based upon the old discredited system of county and township relief.
The jail, poorhouse, county hospital, and children's home are the institutions under the control of the county authorities in Indiana. In addition to the board of county commissioners who in most states have sole charge of these county institutions, the legislature in 1899 provided for the appointment by the circuit court judge of six persons to act as a board of county charities. The appointment is mandatory on petition of fifteen reputable citizens of the county. They are required to visit each of the charitable and correctional institutions in the county receiving public monies, and to report their findings to the county commissioners at least quarterly and to the circuit judge annually. Copies of their reports are to be furnished the newspapers and the Board of State Charities. As a result of these provisions and the excellent supervision given the poorhouses by the Board of State Charities, the poorhouses of that State have been made more nearly into what they should be, homes for the aged and respectable poor, instead of clumping grounds for the refuse of humanity. The following table tells its own story on this point :
Inmates under 16 years of age 13.3% 1.2%
The Indiana plan of managing township charities has been even more striking because out-door relief is included. Under the old system of unsupervised relief the township trustees in 1895 were spending annually $630,168.79 without any record being kept to show who were helped and for what reason. In that year a law was enacted at the suggestion of the Board of State Charities which revolutionized matters. The trustees as overseers of the poor were required by that law to file with the respective boards of county commissioners reports which must contain certain information concerning every family and person aided, a duplicate of which report was to be sent to the Board of State Charities. That provided supervision not only by the county commissioners, but also by a state body. Two years later a law was passed requiring the trustees to levy a tax against the township to cover the cost of poor relief granted to persons in that township. This supplied the other element lacking in the previous law, that of putting upon the people where the poor were the burden of their relief instead of paying the cost out of the general funds of the county. Each trustee was now responsible directly to his constituents for whatever expenditure was made. Two years later a law applying the principles of organized charity to the relief of the poor was passed and put the final element needed into the laws governing out-door relief for a whole state. Thus are provided supervision by a state board, local financial responsibility, and the application of the principles of scientific charity to the relief system of a state. This system also affords an opportunity to the State Board to study the whole problem of poverty in that state and get at the real causes of poverty.
The results of this system are shown by, the fact that while in 1897 one out of every thirty-one of the inhabitants of the state were receiving public relief, ten years later only one out of seventy-one were receiving such relief, although the amount given each person had risen from $4.72 to $5.13. In 1897 there were thirty-eight counties in the state in which one out of every thirty or less inhabitants was receiving aid, while ten years later there was not a county where so many of the inhabitants were being aided at public expense. Furthermore, the expense of public relief had fallen from $388,343.67 in 1897 to $279,967.31 in 1907 ;1 thus fewer persons were receiving relief, but those who were receiving it were getting more adequate relief. This example of a state which by a few very simple changes in her public relief system made it really efficient shows what can be done if brains and perseverance are applied to the problem here in the United States.
The Rise of the Charity Organization Movement. The reform of public charities after the methods of the Hamburg-Elberfeld often modified in some respects to meet local conditions, extended to many of the principal cities of Europe. Paris, Vienna, and Berlin inaugurated systems of charity organization, which had for their purpose the systematic helping of the poor, and the repression of pauperism. The influence of all this work for the reformation of public outdoor relief was felt everywhere, its results were made known and began to show results in private relief work. This influence began to tell on the ideals prevailing in non-public relief associations both on the Continent and in England about the middle of the nineteenth century. About this time the charities of London were very imperfect and inadequate. A large number of societies existed having no particular coordination or cooperation. They were relief societies pure and simple. However, in 1869, the Charity Organization Society of London was formed. It had for its purposes the harmonious cooperation with each other and with the poor law authorities, of the various charitable agencies in the district, the checking of the evil of overlapping relief, the repression of mendicity, the furnishing of help to the needy, and the repression and prevention of pauperism by thorough investigation and by means of self-help.
Charity Organization in the United States. It was not until the year 1877 that the Buffalo Society of Charity Organization was established, and it was the forerunner of all such movements in American cities. It was based upon that modified form of Hamburg-Elberfeld system which had been adopted in Lon-don and elsewhere. Its principles, as announced, were to re-duce vagrancy and pauperism and ascertain their true causes ; to prevent indiscriminate and duplicate giving ; to secure the community from imposture ; to see that all deserving cases of destitution were relieved ; to make employment the basis of relief ; to elevate the home life, health, and habits of the poor ; and to prevent children growing up as paupers.
The means employed to bring about these results were cooperation of charitable agencies ; thorough investigation of all applicants and all conditions of poverty ; a careful registration of all those asking for help ; and giving the kind of help that suited the exact need of each individual. The society also advocated the study of poverty and pauperism in order to better understand the causes. In this way they hoped to improve the condition of the poor and to reduce almsgiving to a system of scientific charity.
The Indorsement of Charities. The organization of societies giving relief into an association whereby overlapping of relief could be eliminated and cooperation between the various relief agencies secured aimed to cure one kind of ills besetting the philanthropic impulse. There is another sort of malady, however, which that movement does not as yet touch. There may be three or there may be a thousand relief agencies associated in an associated charities' organization. The associated charities, except in a few instances, has not been in a position to say that another relief agency is not needed and therefore may not enter the field and appeal to the public for support. As a consequence of the multiplication of relief agencies in response to the great growth of the desire to relieve the suffering to be seen in the midst of our plenty, and in response to the opportunity provided by the philanthropic sentiment to thus graft upon the public, there has been an enormous development of institutions and organizations appealing to the public for support. So great has this tendency become, and in some places so numerous the organizations appealing for support, that it is impossible for the busy business man to discriminate between the claims of the various organizations appealing to him for help. With a willingness to help any real need and a desire to spend his money only where it will do the most good and not contribute to the development of institutions which are unnecessary, he has been tossed about in his mind as to what he should do. The commercial organizations of the larger cities finally took hold of the problem and decided that they would look into the various organizations to which the business men were asked to contribute and have a special force organized in their office to investigate each organization. Each member of the commercial body was then invited to cooperate with the commercial organization in this work by placing in his place of business a card stating that those in that business house or office were members of the board of commerce, or whatever the body was called, and that they would contribute to no organization which did not have the indorsement of that organization. At the same time that this was done publicity was given to the fact that a special committee to investigate the claims of philanthropic institutions had been organized, and the various charitable organizations were asked to submit to the commercial body information on certain points which would show their methods of financial management, the field they covered, and a number of other matters bearing upon the usefulness of the organization in the community. In this way these organizations are carefully examined by the commercial body and the contributing public has the advantage of whatever skill that body commands in investigating the merits of the various philanthropic organizations. This method is intended to catch the useless organizations and the imposters. It also serves to prevent the organization of societies which would duplicate the work of others already in existence. In Cleveland, where the movement originated, it has gone so far as to enlist the commercial organization with the philanthropic societies in an endeavor to gather the money necessary to carry on the work of these societies which are indorsed and divide it among them on the basis of what they spent the year previous, or some such basis as may seem equitable to the board.
The results of charities' indorsement have been fully up to expectations in cutting down the number of institutions receiving their support from the public. It has also given an impetus to the movement to have institutions carry on their work with more care for the financial methods employed, and for the results obtained. They know that they will be judged by results and that if these results do not commend themselves to the investigating committee, their support will be cut off by the refusal of this body to indorse their work. The campaign for funds in the Cleveland plan is centered in a week and each giver knows that when he has given once he will not be asked for gifts by other organizations. The result has been a great increase in the amount given by each man and therefore a greater amount to be used by the institutions approved.
The system of indorsement has not received the unanimous approval, however, of social workers and students of the question. There has been a fear expressed that the investigating committee may not be intelligent enough to correctly judge of the real merits of an organization. They are usually business men, it is claimed, who are not familiar with the needs of the people along philanthropic lines and therefore are likely to think that an organization is unnecessary when it is really needed. There was also a fear expressed by some that this system would mean the control of charities by big business. The debate is not yet settled, but wherever the plan has been tried apparently it has worked well. In New York City, where there is a strong charity organization society, that organization does this investigating and indorsing. This plan in most places where the associated charities' movement is less well established in the confidence of the people would probably not work, inasmuch as the various relief societies would object to investigation and indorsement by an association which is supposed to coordinate the various relief agencies in the task of succoring the needy of the community. It is probable that those cities which have strong commercial bodies and have not a very strong associated charities will use the former method, and those which have their charities organized well and are strongly intrenched in the confidence of the people will manage it as New York does. It is certain that the time has come when the waste of effort due to institutions which duplicate efforts in a field already well occupied and leave untouched other fields suffering from the lack of help will be stopped. Some agency must have oversight over the whole field of philanthropic endeavor and direct the efforts of the community to meet its needs systematically, cultivating each part thereof according to the needs of each.'
Principles of Scientific Out Relief. Out of the confusion of indiscriminate giving and haphazard methods of administering charities, which have sometimes tended to increase rather than to decrease dependency, there have evolved a few fundamental principles of charity based on scientific methods. Among them the following may be enumerated : the helpless must be taught to help themselves ; the work test should be applied to all persons to the extent of their working power ; indiscriminate giving is dangerous and should be prohibited ; every gift should be for the purpose of permanently helping the recipients ; relief, when given, should be adequate but should be carefully supervised ; the rehabilitation of the dependent family nothing less should be one of the ultimate aims of scientific charity ; the other ultimate aim should be the prevention of poverty. Thus, scientific charity is a study of how to relieve, how to rehabilitate the dependent, and how to prevent poverty and pauperism.
Gradually it has dawned upon the communities that the most difficult thing to do is to help others without at the same time doing an injury. Promiscuous giving is no longer considered a virtue. To be generous and careless may lead to more trouble than to be penurious. One should not refrain from giving and should not repress generosity, but the duty does not end with the giving, it extends to the insurance of good results from the gift. Scientific charity seeks not to relieve the public from the burdens of the poor, but seeks to lay increased responsibility by doing more for the poor and doing it in a better way. It is easy to give without responsibility, but it is a very difficult matter to follow up the gift with the responsibility of its effectiveness. " The gift without the giver is bare." The last quarter century in American charities has brought about a general reform in methods of dealing with the poor and the helpless. Much, however, still remains to be done. The public must be educated to a sense of the importance of the principles which experience has suggested. Workers both salaried and volunteer must be trained. The principles wrought out in the experience of private philanthropy must be introduced into public relief in the United States ; in only one state, Indiana, has that been done to any appreciable extent. The experiments of other lands in the cure and prevention of poverty need to be adopted and tried out in our country.
FOWLE, F. W. The Poor Law.
HARNACK. Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums, translated as, The Expansion of Christianity, Vol. I, Chap. III.
HENDERSON, C. R. Modern Methods of Charity, Chap. I.
National Conference of Charities and Correction, Vol. XVI, p. 24; Vol. XXI, p. 301; Vol. XXII, p. 28; Vol. XXXI, pp. 113 if.
RICHMOND, M. E. The Friendly Visitor.
ULHORN, GERHARD. Charity in the Christian Church.
WARNER, Amos G. American Charities, Revised Edition, 1908, Chaps. XII, XIV, XV.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. State arguments for and against Mr. Spencer's contention that by charity we do an injury to society by saving alive the weaker people.
2. List the motives which lead people to give to the poor to-day.
3. Show the similarity of motives between the alms distributed by political bosses, say the Tammany leaders on the East Side of New York and the motives of the politicians of Ancient Rome in giving "corn and games" to the populace.
4. In the light of what happened in Rome when the wealth was concentrated in few bands and the bulk of the people had little chance at independence, what would you say would be good social policy with respect to the problems of poverty in this country with its manhood suffrage, by which votes may be exchanged for a living?
5. Are large sums spent on the poor necessarily good evidence of proper care of the poor? Why? Are small amounts? Why?
6. In what respects was the charity of the church of the Middle Ages a good thing? Wherein was it open to criticism?
7. Compare the charity of the churches to-day and public charity in their results.
8. Compare the aims of public charity as administered to-day in the United States and the charity administered by a Society for Organizing Charity, or an Associated Charities.
9. Outline the plan of public relief provided for in the laws of your state. 10. Criticize these laws and suggest changes for the better.
Outlines Of Sociology:
Poverty - Its Causes And Remedies
Charities And Charity Organization
Crime - Its Causes And Prevention
Administration Of Charitable And Correctional Affairs
Field Of Investigation
Methods Of Investigation
Science Of Society
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