The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) is re-inventing itself as an incorporated charity, even as it struggles to cope with lower donations this year.
“We’re concerned (about the decline),” PWRDF director Andrew Ignatieff told Canadian bishops at their October meeting.
In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Mr. Ignatieff declined to give details about the drop in donations, but attributed it to worry about the national church’s viability due to the residential schools crisis. “People are deeply concerned about the future of the church. People who are considering donating or are preparing their wills contact me and say, ‘Can you guarantee the money will not be used to pay legal bills or pay claims?'” he said.
Council of General Synod, at its May, 2000 meeting, approved incorporation as a way to keep contributions to the fund apart from any claims on General Synod’s assets. The fund is now legally independent of the church’s national office, but the incorporation documents state that it is “a response by Canadian Anglicans ? to bear witness to God’s healing love in a broken world.”
PWRDF was incorporated as of May 30, 2000 and registered as a charitable organization effective September 1, Mr. Ignatieff said. He said that no contributions to the fund will go to pay legal costs or claims. “We can now guarantee the intent of all contributions; they are fully protected.”
Most of PWRDF’s fund-raising takes place between fall and year-end. “I am hopeful that Canadian Anglicans will be as generous as they have been in the past,” Mr. Ignatieff told the bishops. However, he also said there is a need for better planning. “We used to say, ‘Just wait for October.’ Now we need to plan our cash flow more regularly,” he said.
Parish and individual donations totalled $3.223 million in the fiscal year ended December 31,1999, down 2.4 per cent from $3.303 million in 1998, according to PWRDF annual reports. Total receipts for those years were $4.919 million in 1999, down 4.0 per cent from $5.124 million in 1998 – a particularly strong year for donations due to Hurricane Mitch, which devastated Central America, said the director. Financial statements for 2000 will be released by February, said Mr. Ignatieff.
Beyond the question of maintaining – and increasing – income, PWRDF now must think differently, he said. “We are embarking on a strategic planning process. We have a board of directors and we are forming standing committees.”
The board consists of the eight people formerly on the committee that oversaw PWRDF’s affairs. It includes representatives of Canadian bishops, clergy, and laity as well as international and indigenous partners. There are 20 staff members at the PWRDF office at Church House and Mr. Ignatieff said he doesn’t anticipate that number will change.
One important task will be communication, since many Anglicans do not appear to know that they have their own relief and development agency, he said.
PWRDF was started in 1959 in the aftermath of the Springhill, N.S., mining disaster of 1958, in which 167 miners died. In 1969, development was added to its international relief mandate. A Canadian development program was added in 1995.
Among the projects it now supports is Trails of our Ancestors, administered by the community council in Rae-Edzo, Northwest Territories. The program puts young Natives together with elders and sends them out on the land to learn traditional skills and hear the stories and history of their culture, Mr. Ignatieff said.
In Cuba, the fund supports a village market garden that allows women to consume and sell what they produce as well as give some of it to children’s centres and seniors’ homes, he said.