Epic Ablaze! money fail, by Mollie

We’ve discussed before how poorly Ablaze! has done according to its own rigid counting criteria. We’re supposed to Gospel touch 100 million people by 2017 and are less than 10 percent of the way to the goal — even though 1/3 of the time has already elapsed.

Well that’s NOTHING compared to the fundraising arm of Ablaze! As of the end of the last fiscal year, Fan Into Flame! had raised a grand total of $14,885,950 in the bank. They have more pledges — in fact, they claim over $31 million in pledges — but that’s the grand total of actual funds raised.

Not bad you say? Well, guess how much it cost to raise that money. A whopping . . .


Which means that we’ve cleared all of $4.8 million. Ouch.

The LCMS spent $2.1 million on fundraising CONSULTANTS alone in 2007. Which is actually $600,000 more than it costs to run KFUO-AM for an entire year.

Many of us have problems with the poor theology underlying Ablaze! But everyone has to have problems with the financial and administrative mismanagement on display.


Epic Ablaze! money fail, by Mollie — 6 Comments

  1. Mollie, thanks.

    I was thinking about sharing this with some others, but when I saw that the 2.1 million linked to another post that just said the 2.1 million, I hesitated. Is there a post somewhere that breaks down or shows where the LCMS paid $2.1 million to consultants in 2007?

    Much appreciated,


  2. Dan,

    From the “LCMS Board for Mission Services LCMS Board for Mission Services annual report The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod on the Fan into Flame Campaign June 30, 2008 2008”:

    “CCS professional fees (five full-time equivalent staff and three executive consultation representatives in FY 2006 and seven full-time equivalent staff and two executive consultation representatives in Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008): $5,276,659”

    I know I’ve seen a report where this figure is broken down into individual years, but I can’t locate it right now.


  3. Even more amazing when you consider what contributions are called “Ablaze.” My contributions to world missions are credited to “Ablaze” and the receipt comes back in an “Ablaze” envelop.

  4. Dan,

    The number is actually higher. In the last three years alone, Ablaze’s fundraising arm spent a whopping $5.3 million on fundraising consultants.

    This despite the fact that LCMS headquarters has a huge money-sucking fundraising operation (LCMS FOUNDATION) and World Mission has a huge staff.

    I found out that Missions has over two bureaucrats sitting in St. Louis for every pastor actually out in the field.

    The numbers can be found in Missions convention reports and Fan Into Flame’s most recent accounting of funds.

  5. 1. Assuming these numbers are correct what would other non profit agencies such as the United Way or the American Red Cross think of a ratio of 3 to 1 dollars raised to dollars spent. Would they be okay with that, or would it be time for an audit?

    2. Is that 10 million plus spent on fan the flame a static number, meaning that’s all that will be spent, or will that number also go up in the next eight years as we continue the program? As I recall Ablaze is running on borrowed money, how much interest will the Synod (meaning we) pay in addition to the principle spent on the campaign?

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