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thorough, free, frank self-expression in the working staff of the agency must be afforded if social work is to be true to its own democratic faith and is to realize the value of the democratic principle.

We shall not enlarge upon the implications and possible developments of more radical innovations in organization, such as self-sufficient, staff-managed, exclusively professional social work agencies, or organizations in which executive responsibility is to the staff rather than to a separate board; nor upon the somewhat more imminent development of private professional practice of social work. All of these are related to the problem under consideration; they all raise questions of real importance in the application of the democratic concept. Suffice it to say now that when any of these ventures materialize, social work must guard still more zealously the true spirit of democracy within itself and close its portals firmly against the plagues of selfishness, of snobbishness, of jealousy, of selfsatisfaction and stagnation, to which, in the past, a too narrow professionalism has often fallen prey.

In this era of transition and expansion in the life of a new profession, in a profession in which the issues at stake are the achievement of the priceless objects of life itself, in an age in which the human spirit is stirred by a deeper appreciation of its own significance and potentialities than at any other time of the past, in a civilization in which progress is coming to be measured definitely in human values, democracy seems to us to be, always and everywhere, the only acceptable and workable philosophy.



Robert W. Kelso, Executive Secretary, Council of Social
Agencies, Boston

Educational publicity as applied to social work is the interpretation to the general public (without differentiating the benevolent merely) of social problems and their remedies, both those in use and others proposed, and is for the purpose of developing sound public opinion based upon knowledge of the facts of social ills and the reasoning of attempted and possible remedies, which understanding and opinion may form a sanction and moral support for professional social work and may guarantee also a more stable financial backing for the social work program.

The purpose of social work is to advance the common welfare. It is a fiduciary service of a public nature. This indelible character is revealed by the law which declares funds devoted by document or agreement to a charitable use to be trusts, the owners and beneficiaries of which are the general or indefinite public. The law further hedges such trusts about with a degree of protection never accorded to private property. Thus, when once legally constituted they may accumulate forever, can never be given or devoted to private interests, and will not be allowed to lapse for failure of the original purpose. In this aspect of social work assets the manager or worker plainly becomes a trustee serving the general public. He may not do as he personally desires with such trust moneys. He may not set up his individual judgment as to what is good for his beneficiaries without their consent, either expressed in actual opinion or implied in his franchise and his articles of trusteeship. He may not give away any of his funds, nor bury his talent in the ground, defeating its proper accumulation. He is bound by all the legal requirements of private and personal trustees, yes, even by something more, for public trusteeships carry a quality of higher moral obligation, being the greater trust. Thus he who would essay to serve the widow and the orphan, the helpless in all walks of life, undertakes that which in a moral sense becomes a sacred public trust. Its pledges are not meaner in their wholesome tenor than religious vows. It follows from this reasoning that the fundamental character of social work, with its spiritual qualities of altruism and devotion, is civic. Social work approaches the population swarm, the workaday community into which modern man gathers himself, as an inquirer into such faults and fac

tors in those social contacts as it finds to work against the general welfare. These it seeks by all appropriate means to reduce or to eliminate. It exists solely for the common good, and takes up the phenomena of life as it finds them.

If the points thus far advanced are well taken, there is no escaping the conclusion that social work, as a trustee of the community, owes the unequivocal. obligation to account to the public not only for its honest husbandry of trust funds within the existing criminal law and laws of property, but also for the soundness of its several judgments and decisions made in the application of that trust. The private trustee consults his beneficiary about major investments, about changes in policy, about every important matter likely to affect the benefit which that cestui may derive. So, by an even greater compulsion of duty, should the social trustee take his beneficiaries into his confidence constantly as to the problems he has found, the dangers which they hold for the common welfare, the remedies which he proposes, and the cost which such intended operation may entail. The real puzzle in this question of educational publicity is how to effect such a degree of confidence on the part of the general public.

The fiduciary character of social work is set out at such length because social workers and philanthropic managers do not generally recognize it. A quiz conducted among those who carry on social work would in all probability reveal three persistent answers, in the following order of frequency:

Question: Do you as a professional social worker owe a trust obligation? If so, to whom? Answer: Yes. To the president and board of managers.

Question: Do you as a director of charitable work owe a trust obligation? If so, what and to whom? Answer: Yes. To the government-to be honest and upright under the law with the funds under my direction.

Question: What obligation does either of you feel to persons outside of your directorate and staff? Answer: No legal obligation to anybody. The client we are not obliged to serve: but after once taking him on, we are morally obliged to go through with him or to dispose of his case according to right standards of social work. To the people who give us money we owe nothing but our thanks. We think it good business to keep in touch with them on the chance that they may give us more money. Nobody else in the community has any right to meddle with us.

This fundamental trust quality of social work applies everywhere and with equal force, whether it be social work carried on by a governmental board, by a private charitable corporation, by a voluntary committee, or by an individual. But there are some observations worth making with reference to the status of these two broad groups, public and private social work.

Social work carried on by governmental bodies comprises in some form or other the execution of statutes. Such governmental bodies exist by reason of an organization statute, and function only under its enabling provisions. All such welfare statutes are, in theory at least, the written will of the whole people. That public will, if it is to be made up intelligently, must be based upon reason

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able knowledge of the subject matter to which it relates. Such knowledge must come from actual contact with the subject matter or by report from those intrusted with it. Governmental social work functions modernly, for the most part, and under the constant taint of partisan politics, where there is no reasonably effective method employed of informing the public of the nature of its problems and the methods it is using, and desires in the future to use, in meeting them. General public understanding and appreciation is the life of governmental social work, and at the same time the only true source of sound social legislation.

Non-governmental or private social work must be supported by a very considerable volume of gifts over and above its earnings. Its endowment, if it have any, is of course nothing but gifts carried in capital funds. These gifts are not derived by compulsion, as are the taxes which support governmental social work, but are, on the contrary, the voluntary impulse of the individual. In making his gift to charity the voluntary donor must rely either upon his unreasoned sympathy, or his sympathy fortified by his trust in the individuals who are behind the agency which appeals to him, or upon his snap judgment of the need, based upon guess and hearsay, or, finally, upon sympathy and trust backed by his careful judgment formed out of knowledge of the facts and his reasoning and approval of methods explained to him. Of these four chief reliances the last is the only one that can guarantee continued loyalty on the part of the giver, and consequent stability of income for voluntary social work. That social work relies chiefly on the first three is attested by the fact that the vast majority of all charity appeals are still appeals to sympathy, with scant explanation as to the service rendered and little information other than a claim of good intent, of worthy purpose, and of the numbers "helped." Though a change for the better has fairly set in, Mary Lamb is still the great American collector. May she never grow less! On the contrary, may she be given the support of a fair and full accounting of our husbandry.

While in theory social work is a public function and is to be carried out either by the government or with its express sanction, in practice voluntary social work will be gauged only by the approval or disapproval of the people; by the general reputation it holds in the community. Its mentor is public opinion. Thus far the public has no opinion on social work because it has no adequate body of information. It reads of the activity of certain individuals in charity and learns that many persons are paid for carrying it on. Wherefore the man on the street has two well-set beliefs about this field, namely, that directors are in it for the social prestige they can get out of it, and that most of the money given to charity goes to pay the workers and run offices, which uses he believes are not charity, because also he has never been taught that charity can ever be more than alms. To carry on an informative and interpretative process of publicity would in time develop an intelligent public understanding of the work we do. It would tend to supply that public oversight now lacking, and it would tend, in consequence, to push social work effort to a higher plane of efficiency. Suppose


we were to take stock of the job as we collectively carry it on today. What should we find that job analysis would show to be inefficient? What are some of the outstanding inefficiencies of social work today? This recital should not be felt by any hearer in this audience as an indictment against his own work. If the coat does not fit, do not put it on. But on the other hand, let him not secretly attach it to his neighbor unless he feels sure of the facts in that individual case.

Social work today, vastly better than it used to be, and improving all the time through leadership in the upbuilding of standards, chiefly in this and other important conferences, nevertheless still remains an unsupervised, unscientific operation, wasteful of time and money. Examination will show a surprising frequency in the following inefficiencies: first, the continued use of inappropriate office quarters, either too costly and elaborate, or, more frequently, too meager and inadequate in space, lighting, air, and arrangement of units; second, chronic failure to take advantage of business opportunities in the purchase of supplies to which the size and influence of the society should entitle it (it is probable that over 10 per cent of all the millions spent by American social agencies could be saved without reducing the quantity or the quality of the supplies purchased if expert buying were insisted upon by the directors); third, the expenditure of excessive sums in the collection of donations; fourth, excessive turnover in employment, with a consequently large body of green help, due to failure to study the salary problem and pay salaries commensurate with the task performed; fifth, investments not as keenly watched as personal trust investments are, whereby unwarrantably low interest is frequently received; sixth, improvident undertakings entered upon without thoroughgoing budgetary planning, trusting to the giver to provide; seventh, a chronic tendency to center attention exclusively upon case problems as they arise each day, to the neglect of any sort of stock taking or inventory of the human values at which the society really aims (such stock taking is to be made in surveys of results, follow-up of discharged cases, studies of records); eighth, neglect of new possibilities for economy and efficiency in terms of human values whereby old methods are clung to out of habit and no one, as a matter of course, calls up those old methods for review every so often to see whether they are not out of date. Scores of agencies are now doing what their official grandfathers did chiefly because their grandfathers did it, and not because frequent appraisal has shown that the need of the service calls for it.

Educational publicity would not eliminate these defects, but it would throw the light of public criticism upon them and thus tend to put directors and executives more on their mettle to do their work in the most efficient way. They would be prone to review the content of their job constantly, taking nothing for granted and falling into the mere rut of doing it. And they might be encouraged, too, to orient their work in the larger program of social work of their whole community, helping to eliminate laps and gaps between their own and other agencies.

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