The stewardship challenge we are facing at World Vision Australia is a common one in World Vision around the world.
Like us, there is a mixture of reasons for the partnership needing to pull in its expenses belt.
Some of these reasons are good ones.
For example, the need to ensure that money is used for the purposes for which it is raised. The need to avoid situations in which a sponsor’s gift is used for something entirely irrelevant.
Most sponsors would accept that some small portion of their gifts are used to cover World Vision’s essential fixed costs.
For example, the work we do in policy dialogue with the United Nations impacts on the quality of ministry to children all around the world. Next year this might consume a bit less than one-three hundredth of each sponsor’s dollar—about a third of each cent.
I see this as a necessary and important part of our ministry to children. It is reasonable to use this tiny part of a sponsor’s donation.
However, if we were to take 5% of my sponsor gifts intended for my Indonesian sponsored child, and spend them on emergency relief in Rwanda, that would not be right. Even though the need might be great, and the work worthwhile, it is not keeping faith with sponsors to use their money in ways that have no relevance to their intentions.
Fortunately we do not take 5% of your sponsorship $29 and send it to Rwanda. And we won’t.
Faced with the many constraints we found that next year’s international budget of $300 million was short by just over $3 million.
Not a bad result, and we worked to make it balance.
I am pleased to report that we made it balance without taking any money away from the field ministry.
Some Things Are Too Costly, No Matter How Cheap They Are.
If someone gave World Vision a Mercedes-Benz for us to use as a pool car for free, we could not drive it.
Why? It’s free!
It’s a problem of what people would think. And, often in our work, this must be considered.
And often, the choices we make are difficult. Our building is one such. We made the cheapest decision in moving to East Burwood. I judged that the cost of dealing with the public relations challenge was less than the millions of dollars it would have cost us to take one of the other options.
But not all decisions are as difficult as this.
The international leadership team met at the Lodge at Kananaskis, Canada. It’s hard to pronounce, but that’s the only bad thing about it.
It is on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in some of the most wonderfully spectacular scenery on earth.
God’s handiwork came for free. I had no problem with that.
And Don Scott and his team had negotiated a special deal for World Vision that meant it was cheaper to stay there than at the Manor Motor Inn!
From a cost point of view there were no problems.
Nevertheless, most ordinary people staying at Kananaskis were paying much more than us for the privilege. Most people would assume the same for us.
Two of the staff were from Australia. I stopped short of telling them who I worked for, and felt compromised in my heart. Of course, I could have explained about the deal and satisfied them, but I resent having to be on the defensive all the time.
I’ll bet you often feel the same way.
I wish I had a neat answer to this dilemma, but there is not one.
We simply have to recognise that the resources we have are not our own. We are stewards. Of money. And of public perceptions about money.
With integrity we must use all these resources wisely.
It’s a Small World, After All!
I mentioned a primary school classmate in the “Personally” column of the latest “World Vision News.”
Clarence Ng was one of my best mates at Granville Central Primary School. Up to the “Sixth Class”.
The other day, the Company Analyst at Arnott’s Biscuits in Sydney was approached by a colleague.
“Dr Ng,” he asked, “did you know a bloke at school named Philip Hunt?”
Dr Clarence Ng called me to renew acquaintances.
He graduated from University of NSW with a doctorate in Chemistry.
These days he works for Arnott’s. One of his jobs is to ensure the continuing chemical quality and development of High Energy Biscuits.
It’s a small world.