Fundraising programs under review

Published September 19, 2005

General Synod has asked a leader in the area of gift planning and annual giving in Canada to conduct an independent audit of the Anglican Church of Canada’s annual fundraising programs to look at ways of improving the way Canadian Anglicans are approached for donations.Lorna Somers, vice president of McMaster University Foundation and McMaster University’s director of development, has been asked to conduct a review/assessment of the fundraising efforts of the Anglican Journal, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the Anglican Foundation and the Anglican Appeal. Results of the audit, which will contain recommendations on how best to enhance these appeals, are expected this month. “Our belief is that there are ways of improving what we do,” said Canon Geoff Jackson, senior financial development officer in charge of the national church’s Letting Down the Nets stewardship and gift planning initiative. “We believe that notwithstanding the resources received by the appeals, there are still many more opportunities out there.” Mr. Jackson said the audit is also expected to help improve the appeals’ database recording and overall system. Some donors have stated that they are confused due to the four separate national appeals that they receive each year. The audit comes at a time when donations to some appeals have showed a steady decline in recent years. For instance, in 2004 the Anglican Appeal exceeded its 2003 contribution level but still fell short of projected revenue – it did not reach its goal of $850,000, taking in only $760,000. The Anglican Journal Appeal declined by seven per cent in 2004, raising $460,119 compared to $490,976 in 2003. On the other hand, an appeal issued by PWRDF for the victims of last year’s tsunami in Asia raised an unprecedented $1.1 million in just one month. The drop in donations has been attributed by some General Synod officials to the controversy surrounding the same-sex blessings issue and year-end payments by dioceses to the residential schools settlement fund. All dioceses are contributing to a $25 million fund that will compensate natives who attended Anglican boarding schools and can prove they suffered physical and sexual abuse. “The recommendations may be challenging for us, but we have to sit and review them,” said Mr. Jackson, adding that, “we need to understand why donors may assist in one (appeal) and not another.” Ms. Somers, who has been involved in gift planning in Canada since 1989 and is a frequent speaker to charitable organizations worldwide, has been involved in every fundraising program of McMaster University. In 2003, she and her team were responsible for securing the largest single cash gift in Canadian history – $105 million from Canadian businessman and philanthropist Michael G. DeGroote, which benefited the university’s medical school. Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson said the steering committee of Letting Down the Nets expects to choose the dioceses eligible for the campaign’s pilot projects by next month. The initiative, approved by General Synod in 2004, is a plan that seeks to “educate and empower church leaders to improve their financial capacity and resources for ministry and mission at all levels of the church,” said Mr. Jackson. Each pilot project is expected to run for three years at a cost of $125,000. “We hope it will be a partnership agreement when possible,” said Mr. Jackson. Dioceses are expected to provide both human and financial resources, but majority of the funds will come from Letting Down the Nets. “The money isn’t there yet. We’re still raising funds; the target is to raise $3 million over a four-year period,” he added. Letting Down the Nets has so far raised $500,000. Eleven dioceses have already asked to be considered for the pilot project, slated to begin early next year, but only four or five will be chosen. “We’re looking for dioceses with a clear sense of vision for the next five to 10 years, a willingness to make stewardship education a priority for the next three years, and a local leadership willing to support parishes in their effort,” said Mr. Jackson. Dioceses not chosen to be a pilot project will still receive assistance in such areas as program planning. The committee is also looking at ways of expanding the partnership agreements between General Synod and dioceses so that all dioceses will have the services of a planned giving consultant. Mr. Jackson said that he and other members of the committee have been accepting invitations to visit dioceses across the country to talk about why Letting Down the Nets is important for all levels of the church. “Anglicans typically have a reluctance to talk about money, to think that money is part of Christian life. The view is that if we’re able to balance the budget then we’ve achieved our objective,” said Mr. Jackson. “It’s a question of trying to change attitudes. Stewardship is a way of life, each of us has a need to donate our time, talent, and treasure and we should not be frightened.” Mr. Jackson noted that universities, hospitals and the arts receive bequests more than churches do. “We never ask for such support and yet we continually wonder why we don’t receive it,” he said. “Part of our task is to have a sense of vision, to plan for our ministry and mission and we’re asking people to support that.”


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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