“Soldiers, rack your brains. Bring forth plans new as well as old, especially new.” — William Booth
“We are an innovative partner, mobilized to share hope wherever there is hardship, building communities that are just and know the love of Jesus.” This is the official vision statement forThe Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda.
The key word here is innovative. And with Mobilize 2.0 well underway, the territory is moving forward with the goal of introducing fresh ways to serve both inside and outside of the corps. One of the objectives outlined in the 2021 strategic plan for Canada and Bermuda is to be a culture that “encourages innovation that enables a strong, sustainable, growing movement.” The Salvation Army strives to be innovative in ministry—to mobilize a new generation of service that honours our history and mission, while adapting our practices to better serve an ever-evolving society.
In 2021, The Salvation Army allocated $2 million to innovation. From this funding sprouted the innovation grants—a call to action from the territory that invited ministry units to bring their creative ideas to the table.
Overseeing the grants is the innovation grant review committee, a team comprised of people from four divisions, as well as territorial headquarters (THQ), with representation from both corps and social services, officers and lay employees.
The committee requested that ministry units submit proposals for projects that offered new, fresh ideas with a focus on innovation and mission impact. They asked ministry units to present their ideas, the purpose of the proposed program and why it is important. More importantly, they asked that each ministry unit describe the immediate and lasting impact their initiative would have on the community they serve.
The key criteria established by the committee were: innovation and ensuring that the project offers something new and different to ministry; a clear strategy for implementation; use of existing resources and partnerships to support the success of the project; the identification of short-term and long-term outcomes; and consideration for financial sustainability of each project. Grants of up to $75,000 per ministry were available.
In August 2021, 82 ministry units across the territory sent proposals to THQ, presenting their exciting projects. Of these proposals, 42 grants were approved to receive funding worth a total of approximately $1.8 million.
An Innovative Partner
The innovation grants look toward the future of the Army, discovering innovative ways to use our resources to better serve our communities. Among the proposals received, many ministry units focused their ideas on similar themes: connecting with marginalized and vulnerable groups, meeting unmet needs in communities, reaching and discipling youth, and meeting the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of individuals.
“We’re trying to help our ministry units think creatively and take a chance,” says Craig Lewis, process owner, Accelerate 25, at THQ and former chair of the innovation grant committee.
“The Salvation Army is not just making a commitment in words. We’re making a commitment financially to try and drive this innovation. It’s allowing our ministry units to try something new and to break tradition,” says Lewis. “It really is a great action step and commitment by the organization with firm intentionality behind it. It’s exciting.”
The Salvation Army has approved funding for further rounds of innovation grants in the coming years. With new initiatives cropping up across the territory, Salvationist and Salvationist.ca will be documenting some of these projects in the hope that other ministries will be inspired to take a chance on their own ideas.
Read how three innovation grant recipients are already making an impact on their communities by following the links below: