Born in Brighouse, England, Ballington Booth was the second child of William and Catherine Booth. As a teenager, he began preaching at Salvation Army open-air meetings, where he would often end by singing and playing his concertina. He became a Colonel in The Salvation Army at the age of 23, when he was positioned as a Training Officer. He was later moved to Australia, followed by the United States and Canada.
In 1886, he married Maud Charlesworth, who changed her name to Maud Ballington Booth, and they were soon assigned to the United States. Although Ballington and Maud Booth played a great part in organizing and structuring The Salvation Army in the United States, the couple left The Salvation Army after a rift between them and William Booth developed. They went on to form their own organization to reach out to the poor and the marginalized of American society. On March 8, 1896, they started God's American Volunteers, which was soon renamed Volunteers of America.
As William Booth was called the General of The Salvation Army, Ballington Booth became the General of Volunteers of America. In this capacity, he spoke with Woodrow Wilson about the effect of World War I on society and with Franklin Roosevelt about charity efforts throughout the Depression. He led Volunteers of America for 43 years.