PWRDF cuts budget by $700,000

By on May 9, 2009

The Primate’s World Development and Relief Fund has weathered the global economic storm so far, but preparing for tough times ahead, revised and cut its budget for 2009-2010 by about $700,000 when its board of directors met from April 30 to May 2 in Halifax. PWRDF executive director Cheryl Curtis said the board made “a very responsible decision” and made “slight revisions within all areas of the budget, which allows us to proceed knowing that we’ve got a strong program committed to partners, and that should we need it, we’ve got strong reserves and we have the capacity to access those reserves to keep that support for partners at the end of ’09-10.” However, she acknowledged that “there was a slight revision to partner programs, a decrease of $200,000,” and there were further reductions in development grants. The development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada, PWRDF has a $3-million dollar reserve fund, but accessing it for spending requires board approval, said finance and administration team leader Jill Martin. The budget for the current fiscal year was cut to $6.3 million from $7.1 million, which is about $500,000 less than the 2008-2009 budget.There is an “internal process underway” to decide where and how costs will be reduced, Ms. Curtis said, adding that priority was given to maintaining a strong partner program. Unfortunately, a $700,000 cut is too large to be made up in efficiencies, she said and praised staff for working together in an exemplary way. “I think the most difficult part is for the development team staff who carry for PWRDF the direct relationship with partners and convey reductions changes in financial support.”Ms. Curtis added that Anglicans have always been generous in challenging times that affect the global community, so staff hope that they will not need to touch reserves in order to balance the budget. “If we do, we have the capacity and sign-off from board to do that,” she said. PWRDF investments were affected by the market crisis, noted Ms. Curtis, which meant that the board had to make an adjustment for lower interest income in the budget, but “our investments are very strong because of our conservative portfolio, and it’s just a 19 per cent equity investment, so we’re still quite strong.” She said expenses also had to be adjusted to allow for an increase of close to $100,000 in rent and facilities costs.The communications budget was cut by about $43,000, which means that some work will be postponed and there will only be three issues of PWRDF’s newsletter Under the Sun instead of four. The administration budget was cut by about $70,000 and public engagement funding by about $30,000. Travel costs of $80,000 have been cut by $35,000.Spending for PWRDF’s 50th anniversary has been reduced, including postponing a planned major gift fundraising campaign, which was aimed at bringing in large amounts of revenue, but also would have added costs as well. “It just seemed imprudent and inappropriate to have that kind of a campaign now,” said Ms. Curtis, referring to the global economic climate and its negative effects in Canada and on potential donors. Ms. Curtis said they also decided not to hold a spring leadership forum for diocesan representatives, the youth council, refugee network, board and staff that would have focused on the 50th anniversary. “We’re finding some different ways to do that, hence some teleconferences and more print communication,” she said.” And we’ll roll some of that into the fall leadership forum.” Typically, the forums are held once every two years, she said.Two roundtable discussions with partners from indigenous communities and a global roundtable have also been postponed until the next year, she saidConsidering the difficult economic times, Ms. Curtis said PWRDF finished the 2008-2009 fiscal year with “a strong balance.” An audited statement will confirm figures, but prior to the board meeting, Ms. Martin said that PWRDF received $3.935 million from the dioceses, pointing out that that figure includes donations from individuals and organizations within the geographical region of the diocese, even if they are not connected to the church. Ms. Martin said that the support is above last year’s by $455,000, noting that large designated funds such as the $546,000 received this year for disasters in China, Burma and for HIV/AIDS are not included in order to get clearer year-to-year comparisons of levels of core funding. The net, she said, is $3.388 million, which is $121,000 above last year’s and above PWRDF’s average net over the last 10 years of $3.15 million.The income-expenses for the year were in deficit, Ms. Martin said, but it was covered by funds brought forward from the previous year when there was a $2.3 million surplus, leaving a balance of $600,000 for 2008-2009. Ms. Curtis said that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) made some dramatic changes in recent years that necessitated changes at PWRDF. Early in PWRDF’s 2004 to 2008 program, 46 partners received funding from CIDA and PWRDF, with CIDA providing $3 for every dollar from PWRDF. After the change of policy at CIDA, however, PWRDF decided with advice from a church task force to focus on six partners in four countries – three in Africa and Bangladesh. “Forty partners were no longer CIDA funded … and the board took a decision during a transition year with CIDA and forward into the early year of our new program to make sure that those 40 partners were maintained at the same level, so we used funds available to us to meet that commitment,” she said. “This year was the first year since that commitment ended where we would be looking at any possible adjustment.”While in Halifax, the board also heard an update on a PWRDF branding exercise, which Ms. Curtis says is intended to help “us tell our story of what we are and who we are in a much more focused, intelligible way and in a more dynamic and compelling way.” She described it as “a highly participatory process with representation from across the church.” Research is now completed and its findings have been reported to the executive, and upcoming work involves questions of identity and whether there should be any name changes. (Some argue PWRDF’s name is confusing because it is separate from the primate’s office, although Archbishop Fred Hiltz is the president of the board.) “We’re aspiring to take the branding results for approval to our annual general meeting this fall,” Ms. Curtis said. “That’s what we’re working towards and a phased-in launch of the results of that with a more formal launch at the General Synod 2010.”

Author

  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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