31 January 2023

Self-Denial and Helping-Hand Appeals: What’s the difference?

Benjamin Gilbert

A photo of two black boys playing football outside on dry grass. One boy is using crutches.

Benjamin Gilbert explains the differences and links between the Army’s two major international appeals.

Both the Self-Denial Appeal and the Helping-Hand Appeal are well established in The Salvation Army. However, there is sometimes confusion about how they work, how they relate to each other and which kind of projects each appeal supports. This article aims to clear up the confusion by comparing the two appeals and providing clarity about the differences and links between them.

When was Self-Denial first established?

The Self-Denial Appeal started in 1886 when General William Booth called Salvationists to give sacrificially and to deny themselves so that they could offer God’s love to a hurting world. The Salvation Army is now active in more than 130 countries and the Self-Denial Appeal still operates in every territory.

Whether living in wealth or poverty, Salvationists from all walks of life generously support the Army’s mission to share the gospel and improve the lives of millions of people through the love of Jesus.

When was Helping-Hand started?

The Helping-Hand Appeal was the inspiration of Colonel Olive Booth during the Second World War. Shortly afterwards the worldwide Home League began donating money to a variety of Salvation Army projects, particularly those reaching community needs.

In this territory, the Helping-Hand Appeal is run annually in collaboration between the Family Ministries Unit and International Development.

Someone washing there hands using an outside tap

What are the Self-Denial funds used for?

Funds from the Self-Denial Appeal are channelled into the operational costs of The Salvation Army across the world. This includes everything from paying the electricity bill for a THQ in a country such as Ghana to paying for training courses for officers in Pakistan.

Every territory, command and region contributes financially to the total appeal fund but, depending on the size and financial position of each one, some will receive back more funding than they put in. In this way The Salvation Army is able to operate in more than 130 countries with some territories – such as the UKI Territory, which is able to raise significant funding on its own – helping to support territories that are not in such a fortunate position.  

How are the Helping-Hand funds used?

The Helping-Hand Appeal funding is used internationally for community-based projects, such as work involving anti-trafficking, clean water, food security and gender justice. The money is used specifically for things such as drilling boreholes, agricultural training, awareness raising and vocational skills training.

The Helping-Hand Appeal rotates around these community-based themes each year. During 2023, the focus is on Clean Water.

How are the two appeals linked?

It’s important to remember that in many territories, The Salvation Army uses a church-based model when implementing its community programmes. That is to say that a clean water or food security project will often closely involve a corps officer and corps volunteers. For example, a corps building might be used to conduct trainings or facilitate the distribution of seeds in a project. This ensures that relationships between a corps and its wider community can be built and sustained well after the project has ended.

Both elements to this are essential: the Self-Denial Appeal helps to keep the physical infrastructure of The Salvation Army going and the Helping-Hand Appeal enables corps to engage in community needs far beyond what their own resources would allow. Both appeals are mutually dependant on each other – so please give generously to both!

A wide range of resources for both appeals are available to download or order on salvationist.org.uk/resources.

Written by

A photo of Ben Gilbert

Benjamin Gilbert

Team Leader, International Projects Office

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