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The present federation movement is the physical expression of the development of social work on a civic and community-wide basis. It is destined to become the great lever for the development of intelligent interpretative publicity in this professional field.


Richard K. Conant, Massachusetts Commissioner of
Public Welfare, Boston

Mr. Kelso's proposition is axiomatic. Public charity is a public trust. The beneficiary, the public, should supervise the execution of the trust. Can educational publicity be an adequate method of supervision? I believe that it may supplement governmental supervision but that it cannot take the place of governmental supervision. The best arrangement for supervision of governmental charitable institutions seems to me to be a board of trustees in control of the institution, with a supervisory state board supervising the work of those trustees. No board of trustees can properly supervise itself. This theory, applied to non-governmental charitable institutions or organizations, would provide that a state department should supervise the work of the private charitable corporations. In the case of governmental institutions the principle of supervision is pretty much accepted, but in the case of non-governmental institutions or organizations, state supervision is still in its infancy. In Massachusetts we require an annual financial report and certain other general information from each one of our eleven hundred incorporated charities. We make suggestions to their boards from time to time, tactfully, and realizing that we are not exactly in the position of a supervisory board, as we are with our own institutions. If the directors are disposed to resent our interference with their work they can easily do so. Some states have a more strict supervision through a licensing power over private organizations receiving public funds or over certain classes of organizations like those caring for dependent children, and, sometimes, a licensing power over organizations soliciting funds. Not many states have gone very far in this direction. In general the private organizations have not accepted the principle of state supervision.

In our supervision at present we are bothered a good deal with the problem of what to say publicly about corporations. For many years we published a report giving about a page to each one of our numerous corporations, with a condensed financial report, a statement of the officers, the amount of work done, and the purpose, but expressing no opinion about their work. If a corporation failed to make good reports, the fact was known to other organizations in the same field, and our annual volume made it possible to compare expenditures and methods and, to a certain extent, the amount of work accomplished by organizations

of the same class. We could insist that boards of directors file their financial reports in a certain form, using our published volume as a lever. With our economy régime we had to discontinue the publication of the volume (it cost about $1,500 a year) and substitute a table in which each organization is given one line, stating a few facts about its receipts and expenditures and the number of persons assisted. We refuse to indorse, and we refrain from adversely criticizing publicly, the work of any organization. In publishing pamphlets and studies we have to be very careful that we do not omit an organization and that we do not make a statement about an organization which will cause hard feeling without resulting in any good. Publicity is of great value to us in setting forth standards and indirectly influencing the work of organizations. The educational publicity which organizations are likely to develop or which federations are likely to develop will never be a sufficient supervision without strengthening the power of public supervision vested in the state government.

In time the educational publicity carried on by the organizations and federations of organizations will, through intelligent public opinion, supplement the public oversight which Mr. Kelso says is now lacking, and if reasonable efforts were made at the same time to strengthen the public oversight, I think that the educational publicity of the organizations by the organizations themselves would be of great value. Two things are necessary: first, it should be possible for the state to publish more about the organizations; second, the organizations should publish more about themselves. If the public could understand the newspaper publicity well enough to read between the lines it would be most effective. At the present time an organization may be doing poor work, but nevertheless may get great publicity through a spectacular case. The public makes no inquiry, as it reads the publicity, as to the cost of collection, the methods of accounting for the funds, the need for the service, or the methods of conducting the undertaking.

Can you give the public a clear enough understanding of these essentials in social service so that it can respond properly to the publicity which comes from the organization itself? Can you accustom the public to visualizing the details of a budget sufficiently so that it will notice the omission of details when a general statement is made? Under the present system very many examples are found of incomplete publicity. It is incomplete largely because the public, the newspaper reporters, and editors have not been educated to insist upon a real public accounting of the trust. A brief news item about a concert or about a case can easily be obtained, securing publicity of considerable value, especially if the clipping is reproduced by the organization in its appeals. The newspapers, of course, try to prevent fraudulent publicity as they try to prevent fraudulent advertising, but the importance of complete publicity has not been sufficiently emphasized.

From the angle of governmental supervision there seem to be two goals which might be held up for educational publicity. The first goal is to educate the


public to judge from an organization's publicity whether it is well or badly managed. The second goal, to be tried for at the same time as the first, is to educate the public to the need for good governmental supervision of the organizations.


Mary Swain Routzahn, Secretary, National Committee on Publicity Methods in Social Work, New York

The good old annual report should be our best channel if social publicity's purpose is to render "a fair and full accounting" of our stewardship to donors and taxpayers. On this basis all that need be done is to make the report easily available to those to whom it is due. One might, for example, send this announcement to the newspaper: "The Family Welfare Society of Saybrook has now published its annual report for 1925. Anyone wishing to receive a copy may write to the secretary at 112 Blank Street." If members of the public took seriously the obligation owed to them they would thereupon swamp the family society with requests for reports. Actually, however, it is something of a problem to get our reports read. In practice, the task of publicity is not only to give a fair and full accounting to the public, but to persuade the public to pay attention to it.

Therefore in considering available channels I take it that I am asked not merely to catalogue the means of communication, most of which are familiar to all of you, but to review very briefly ways in which some of these channels can be used to attract and hold attention so that public understanding of social information may be increased.

The newspaper is 'the most widely used channel for publicity, but since the terms on which we may rightfully ask for space in the news columns is that our information shall have news value, much of what we have to say does not belong here. It is not news, for example, that delinquent boys should be examined physically and mentally, or that the children's aid society places children in family homes. Although social agencies are, on the whole, well represented in the news columns, a very small part of all that is printed about them increases the understanding of the public as to what it is all about. It is announced that officers have been elected, that an appeal for funds has been sent out, or that a meeting has been held, but these stories do not enlighten readers. They merely remind them of the existence of the society.

It might be said that good speeches by well-known people, carefully reported, offer the best opportunity to spread social ideas and facts in the form of news. It is news when a leading citizen explains in a speech the causes of juvenile delinquency or the methods of adapting children to family homes. Another form of newspaper writing well suited to educational publicity is the illustrated feature article, which does not have such rigid requirements as to news value.


If you wish to learn how feature articles should be written, consult a book called The Special Feature Article, by Willard G. Bleyer, for some practical help and good examples.

With at least two hundred meetings and one thousand speeches scheduled to be delivered here in Cleveland during ten days, it appears that the meeting as a tool is not unfamiliar to any of us. We have not yet acquired great skill in the use of this tool. Consider the content in ideas of the average speech, the average meeting. There is an art of public speaking and of arranging and conducting discussions and other types of meetings, but we are scarcely aware of it. Speeches and gatherings of people to listen to them are such commonplace occurrences that we assume that anyone is qualified to speak or to arrange a meeting. Speakers' bureaus operated by councils of social agencies are now providing hundreds of opportunities to present social information to thousands of people in our larger cities. They are beginning to realize that an important part of the task is to urge social workers to learn public speaking, and another part is to fit · information to the audiences, sometimes arranging a carefully planned series of meetings for a particular organization.

The radio, being our most recently acquired means of communication, thrills us most. This afternoon we will sample the talks which social workers have been giving over the radio during the last year. Advertisers gladly supply entertainment in order to have it said by the announcer that "The Funny Four come to you this evening through the courtesy of Dumb and Ditto, makers of fine tinware." What have social workers to offer? At least we might well consider whether or not we can tell radio listeners something that they wish to know, instead of going to them, as is our habit in all our public relations, to explain how they can help us. Rummage through your collection of experience and wisdom in the study of human relations, or of family relations, to be more specific. Isn't there something there as practically helpful in everyday life as the recipes that advertise salad oil or the lessons in French from the college extension department? Talks of this kind are probably better for the radio than those of the "asking" kind.

Social problems are essentially dramatic; therefore plays and motion pictures should offer an excellent channel for their expression. In this form of publicity we face the problem that while people's troubles are dramatic, ways of helping them out of trouble, as a rule, are not. Moreover, it seems to be the remedies to which we are most anxious to call attention. Again, if social work is dramatized, social workers must be characterized as the noble, wise, or kindly persons who make things turn out well. We cannot very well portray ourselves in these rôles, and if outsiders write the plays, they either give us halos, which we neither claim nor desire, or they picture us quite otherwise, as futile meddlers.

An interesting experiment carried out last year was in the use of puppets as actors in motion pictures. This was done by the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association in plays for children. It seems possible that the novelty of


the device might give it a value in enlivening narratives addressed to adult audiences if we do not make the mistake of merely turning the puppets into preachers, as we so often do in our use of the motion picture or the play.

Books on social problems are usually technical discussions intended for social workers themselves. An outstanding example of a book for general readers published this year is Other People's Daughters by Eleanor Roland Wembridge. Every social worker would do well to recommend this book to the mothers and fathers of protected girls. It is not only sound and informing, but so readable that it is sure to be enjoyed by many who would not ordinarily read anything more than a brief article about social work. Incidentally, it calls our attention to what part books may have in spreading interest in such topics as mental hygiene and delinquency.

These are examples of familiar means of getting information into circulation, or, as Mr. Kelso put it, of giving an accounting of the trust placed in us. In these brief comments on them I have tried to keep before you the fact that we cannot use any of them successfully unless we have the skill to engage the attention of people not at all eager to be informed. The chief difficulty, however, is that these same members of the public are approached on all sides by others who have an account to render. Mr. Smith, who is a representative member of our public, is also a member of the public in many other capacities. He is addressed through all available channels, as a voter, a parent, a buyer, a member of a trade or profession, a baseball fan, a taxpayer, a Methodist or a Catholic, a pedestrian or the driver of a car, a tenant or property owner, a 100 per cent American, a giver, and so on. In each of these capacities he receives quantities of information, appeals, requests, and advertising through letters, articles in trade papers, through the regular meetings of his group and in a host of other forms.

Meantime, only a very small percentage of his time in any of these capacities is given to learning; much of it goes to doing; and not a little to informing other people. We are, without doubt, under obligation to teach him something of the meaning of social work. But how much of his attention can we get? We may even have to ask ourselves this: How much of it are we entitled to?


Donald Vance, Publicity Secretary, Community Fund

and Welfare Federation, Cleveland

I see educational publicity from the angle of the federation as its best means of justifying the federation's very existence in the eyes of the public.

What does the federation claim to do? It says that it is a central coordinating and planning agency attempting continually to influence the social work pro

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