An Ablaze! Fundraising update (Mollie)

Here’s an interesting update from the August 21-22 Board of Directors meeting:

70. Fan Into Flame Report

Jeff Craig-Meyer, Associate Executive Director of LCMS World Mission Development Services, provided an updated report of the Fan Into Flame fundraising effort, noting that the campaign has passed the one-third mark of its goal with contributions totaling $33,512,734, of which $16,108,681 has been received in cash. Of the total amount, approximately $20 million has been received from major/individual gifts and $13 million through congregational appeals. He also called attention to campaign expenses totaling $9,841,923 through May 31, including $5,274,286 for the CCS consultants’ contract, $1,026,508 for CCS campaign expenses, $2,026,508 for LCMS World Mission expenses, and $1,137,412 for LCMS Foundation expenses. . . .

After reviewing the coming schedule of major gift events and their potential long-term benefits, the presenters responded to questions regarding the involvement of all districts in the campaign, the professional assistance of the CCS consultants, the cause for expenses exceeding earlier predictions, and optimism that the $100 million dollar will be exceeded to such extent as to cover increased campaign expenses.

It is certainly interesting that over 61 percent of the Ablaze! contributions actually received as opposed to pledged ($16.1 million) have been eaten up by fundraising costs. It will be interesting to see how this proceeds.

I’m wondering what incentive the LCMS Foundation has to improve its operations. If all they have to do is answer a few tough questions a few times a year, I don’t anticipate much of a change in these bloated fundraising costs.


An Ablaze! Fundraising update (Mollie) — 13 Comments

  1. Please help me to understand this better. Is LCMS Foundation responsible for all $9,841,923 or just $1,137,412 of the Ablaze! fund raising expenses? If it is the first number Ablaze! is really getting ripped off in the percentage it pays for LCMS Foundation fund raising. If it is the second amount KFUO is really getting ripped off in the percentage it is paying for fund raising. On second thought, either way they are both really getting ripped off for the amount they pay their fund raisers. What do I know though? They suckered me into donating some of the gifts God made me a steward of before I found all of this out.

  2. I don’t understand how the LCMS foundation works. What is it’s relationship to the Synod, and why does it eat so much money?

  3. At this rate, it will cost Ablaze! $61,000,000 to raise its goal of $100,000,000.

    On what planet is that good stewardship?

    Or, look at it this way: $33,512,734 has been pledged for far, but only $16,108,681 has actually been received.

    So, if you subtract the total raised in cashed so far ($16,108,681) from the total cost for Fan Into Flame ($9,841,923), Fan Into Flame has only cleared $6,266,758.

    That’s not “the one-third mark of its goal.” That’s the one-sixteenth mark of its goal.

    While you still have your calculator out, add up the CCS contract and campaign expenses of $5,274,286 and $1,026,508 respectively, you get $6,300,794 for CCS’s services alone.

    These must be some darn good consultants.

    Add to that the Foundation’s expenses of $1,137,412, and you get $7,438,206 just for fundraising.

    That’s a cost-per-dollar-raised of 46%.

    46 cents to raise a dollar.


  4. called attention to campaign expenses totaling $9,841,923 through May 31

    Oh. my. word. Is that NINE MILLION? That would fund 75 missionaries on the field for year at a generous $120,000 each. I also can’t help but think what a fiscally responsible missions organization like Wycliffe Bible Translators could do with NINE MILLION.

    $9 million would fund Issues, Etc. for over 20 years or build three new small churches. How many African seminaries could have an entire new library built and furnished for that?

    I find this
    “the cause for expenses exceeding earlier predictions”
    quite troubling, too. Honestly, what is anyone basing their “optimism that the $100 million dollar will be exceeded to such extent as to cover increased campaign expenses” on?

    How do they know that? What is the contingency plan if it doesn’t? To me it sounds like the contingency plan is “happy thoughts.”

    Will the synod be left holding the bill for all the fund raising costs for a campaign that ends up barely covering its own expenses?

  5. Apparently, at Synod level, math is hard.
    TW and his calculator made it look so easy.
    If only Synod would listen to TW…
    Maybe Ablaze! will end up throwing itself on the mercy of its victim-contributors for bail-out. Seems to be the going thing these days.

  6. We can only hope and pray that the LCMS will realize how bankrupt the Ablaze! initiative is doctrinally and simply snuff it out before it wastes any more money or spreads any more false legalistit notions. By this I mean notions like those that indicate that God needs our consultant driven help in order for the Holy Spirit to call a lost world to faith in His Son.

  7. I predict that the district conventions and the synodical convention will be entirely about ‘if only we had more money’. ‘See, we’ve cut and cut and cut our budget (sorry Issues, Etc. listeners) and we know we can make our goals but we have to do something more. This old constitution is really hampering us. Can’t we make it go away and adopt a new one? One that requires all congregations and RSO’s to give/pay money to synod. Then we could get on with the Great Commission and reach our goals.

  8. TW:
    My abacus works a little differently from yours, but I still get an atrocious “expenses plus contract vs income” ratio of 31% (if everything proceeds along the lines already established to the final 100 million goal.)
    You’ve put your nimble fingers on it. The watershed year will be 2009…the District conventions. If this nonsense isn’t stopped at that level (and I’m not encouraged out here on the left coast)the Synod convention in 2010 will be cut and dried party line. A fait accompli. Synod, Inc. will prevail big time and it’ll be time to man the lifeboats.

  9. I noticed that one of my relatives (we have the same surname and there aren’t that may of us with this spelling and he is from the same area of Ohio where my grandfather was born) is part of the CCS “Fan into Flame” contract for the CNH and English districts (I found this out one day when putting my surname into a Google search.). I’ve never met him, but if I ever do, I’d like to ask him why it costs so much money to raise funds.

    I’m wondering if it would be worth the effort to try to get congregations to send in overtures to district conventions to demand that synod give a better accounting of finances. Whether it would get any results, I don’t know. A problem is that floor committees (appointed by the district president at least in the Pacific Southwest District) sometimes completely reverse overtures that are sent to them. For example, one year several congregations submitted an overture to eliminate the four district mission and ministry facilitators (MMFs) and the floor committee turned it into an overture to commend the them instead. If you are not on the floor committee, the only chance you get to meet with any the committees is an hour before the convention begins on Sunday afternoon.

    I told the (Pacific Southwest) district president that I thought that it was a bad idea to begin the convention on a Sunday afternoon because pastors who don’t live close to Irvine have a hard time making it to the start of the convention. He mentioned that the district provided a lay-led service and sermon. I told him that the sermon was stupid and could have been written by Rick Warren and that the jokes weren’t even funny. He said the congregation didn’t have to use it. I told him that was missing the point. If a congregation had only one pastor, they’d have to skip the Lord’s supper that day when the convention could have been scheduled (as it is in, for example, the Indiana District) so as to prevent this problem.

    Those in power in this district are going to do again in 2009 what they have done in the past and precede the convention with an “equipping conference” and start the convention on the Sunday afternoon. The equipping conference is basically a waste of time and money (except that one year they had Dr. David Adams for one of the sessions, but they also had Dr. John Huber complain that the LCMS isn’t part of the World Council of Churches and tell people that within 30 years the Holy Spirit would lead all churches to understand that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality.)

    (I’d like to see an overture demanding that unrepentant false teachers like Dr. Huber and his buddy Pr. James Hallerberg [who teaches that the women should be ordained as pastors and who stated at the last district convention that the Bible is NOT inerrant] be removed from the LCMS clergy roster.)

  10. Stan wrote:

    “I’m wondering if it would be worth the effort to try to get congregations to send in overtures to district conventions to demand that synod give a better accounting of finances.”

    The Constitution and Bylaws of Synod require full financial disclosure upon request. Synod’s Treasurer, Tom Kuchta is happy to send whatever information is requested.

    So, it sounds like a few requests and a some simple math could render some answers.


  11. We just had a pastor from the Lutheran Church in Haiti visit our congregation. He told of the devastation to his home country and the challenges of his ministry. He asked for prayers and financial support for his ministry.

    Imagine what 9 million dollars would by for this pastor mission work in Haiti! But the LCMS removed its support of his work (a few years ago I believe he said). Apparently we just didn’t have the $.

    Or maybe there just wouldn’t be a good enough return in an investment there?

    How pathetic.

  12. The needs of Haiti’s Lutheran Church were put before the classes of CTS by the sainted Pr./Prof. Kurt E Marquart.
    The graduating class following his death in 2006 set up an endowment for Haiti in Marquart’s memory.
    Contact CTS Fort Wayne and ask how you can help.
    As I understand it, this summer’s hurricanes have wiped out much of the industry which supported the people and the church.

    If you can do w/o Uncle’s tax help (i.e., you take a std deduction anyway) contact Lutheran Church Canada which provides school lunches, (often the only meal of the day) to students in Lutheran schools in Haiti.

    This is off topic, maybe…. or maybe just a further indication that to get real mission work done we have to go around the official structure of lcms, inc..

  13. I served as a LCMS-WM missionary (Africa) from 1997 until June 2007. My role was always as Business Manager – Business Manager to Nigeria – the ABM to English Speaking West & South Africa – the ABM for all of West & South Africa – then since about 2004 as Regional Business Manager (RBM) for all of Africa. As RBM for Africa Region I had a front row seat for all the financial activities for LCMS-WM and WR for all of Africa.

    As it is with any organization there is always going to be some problems. But when Africa Region restructured in 2005 (my 8th year in Africa) things really turned from problems that could be managed to being completely out of control.

    For countless reasons too numerous to explain in this forum – my wife and I resigned from LCMS-WM in June 2007. Really are only regret is that we didnt resign from LCMS-WM 2 months earlier. Had we done so our lives would have been far less complicated.

    The summary is that LCMS-WM (perhaps even WR) is one big huge tail spin. I have my thoughts on some of the reasons. it is not just one thing but several – ranging from the spiritual to the managerial. As RBM I certainly had access to the numeric facts and could what was happening to the funds (certainly at least for Africa). There were nights would I would be in the Jos business office and would simply cry as I plied through the financial data coming in from the other countries in Africa.

    I feel that my wife, office staff, others Area Business Managers under me, Jos office staff, and I did all that we could – but the biggest problem we faced is that we simply couldnt find anyone willing to listen – anyone willing to face realities.

    You can not operate a mission organization when administrative cost fall somewhere in the range of 25-65% – all while other mission agencies keep their admin index in range of 10-20%. Likewise you can not tell a mission Region like Africa that budget is $2,300,000 for fiscal year 06/07 then allow overrun on budget to be an ADDITIONAL $650,000….then to cover it all up by dismissing mission field/regional reports.

    It was just crazy. My wife and I left (10+ years for me) LCMS-WM and are now doing our own thing as independent missionaries (aka Direc Hire Missionaries). We were thus those that jumped ship as Matthew Harris takes about in his firsty paragraph. We were certainly not alone.

    Continuing on In His service

    Brent Friedrichs
    Missionary to Africa
    Persistent LCMS member
    Former Regional Business Manager (RBM) – LCMS-WM – Africa Region.

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