The Charity Organization Society Essay

2229 words - 9 pages

1. The Charity Organization Society was based in the scientific movement of organizations. Workers believed that charity work needed more definition and organization and that charity should be focused more on individual need rather than as a whole population. Focusing on individual need was intended to improve relief operations while making resources more efficient. They also intended to eliminate public outdoor relief. With the promotion of more organization and efficiency the new Charity Organization Societies were born. Trattner states that these new requirements for organization and efficiency spread so “rapidly that within 6 years 25 cities had such organizations and by the turn of the century there were some 138 of them in existence” (Trattner, 1999).
The reformation of the Charity Organizations didn’t grant relief themselves however they served as a resource to simplify the transaction of relief to relief applicants by: maintaining relief applicant requests, records of the aid given to them, and referring those worthy or unworthy to the proper agencies (Trattner, 1999). Their goal was to eradicate fraud and duplicity of services while also maintaining efficiency and treating poverty. The charity organization movement intended to treat poverty by enacting “friendly visitors” to look into each case and define the cause of destitution while also watching for overlapping relief. These “friendly visitors” and their investigations were the cornerstone of the Charity Organization Society’s (C.O.S) treatment; granting aid without investigation was like giving medicine without diagnosis (Trattner, 1999).
“Friendly visitors” were relied on heavily within the C.O.S in order to effectively assign services and determine which services go to the worthy or unworthy poor. The primary goal of the C.O.S and the “friendly visitors” was to investigate rather than relieve. The second aim of the C.O.S was to create bonds between the rich and poor as a substitution of aid. As its motto pointed out, C.O.S provided “not alms but a friend” (Trattner, 1999). They felt that the poor needed to be supervised in order to fight against and overcome the difficulties of poverty.
C.O.S embodied middle class ideals of rationality, efficiency, foresight, and planning; virtues that were applied to businesses (Trattner, 1999). Charity Organization Societies promoted spiritual uplift with the intent that middle class ideals would promote the same success in charity work as they had in the business world. Its workers relied on preconceived notions of the poor attributing to the belief that poverty was based on personal defects rather than an issue of society as a whole. C.O.S viewed the humanity of the poor in negative ways creating the notion that members of the lower class were lazy and their situation was to only be blamed on themselves. Trattner points out that many C.O.S workers believed the only way to keep the poor at work was to keep them deprived. Deprivation...

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