A Tough Year
Next year is going to bring some special challenges to World Vision Australia. We shall have fewer resources to spend on ourselves than this year. It will be the first time in our history that we have faced such a challenge.
Why do we face this challenge?
First, it is not about less income. It looks like revenue will grow between 5 and 10 percent.
But most of our growth next year is in corporate gifts in kind, and in funds from AIDAB. We cannot use these funds to pay our own bills. Obviously, when a company gives us 3,000 tonnes of wheat, we cannot use some of the wheat to pay salaries.
We could, of course, take the money from elsewhere. But this has ethical problems.
Let me illustrate.
Assume we just had one project - a small well-drilling project that cost $80. Our cash fundraising total for the year was $100 and our expenses $20. Thus, our overheads are 20%.
Now assume that some company gave us a pile of wheat valued at $50. And the costs involved in raising it were $5.
Now we have total income of $150 and total costs of $25. Suddenly our overheads are only 17%.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that we had to take the extra $5 from the money we had raised for another purpose.
Now, in World Vision we have a number of income sources, like investment income, and the 40 Hour Famine, where there is some discretion involved in how we use the funds.
But there is a limit to this flexibility. And we are committed to the principle that we shall use funds for the purpose for which they are raised.
It is OK to take some of the money raised for Rwanda and allocate it to cover the costs of the organisation to deliver those funds to Rwanda. It is not OK to take the money for Rwanda and spend it all on a new computer system for the sponsorship program.
As a result, the funds available for paying our costs next year will grow only slightly.
A slow growth year would not, under normal circumstances, cause us to cut costs. We could use our revenue flexibility and our cash reserves to weather the storm with tight management.
In fact, that is what we are doing in this present year. And for the past five years.
However, that brings me to another factor. We will carry forward into FY95 a deficit of about two million dollars.
This is the result of two things. A commitment we made a number of years ago to do everything we could to deliver our promises to the field projects. And a commitment to maintain real integrity between how we raise funds and how we spend them—see the example above.
We could, of course, keep our costs in place simply by sending less to the field.
This is not acceptable to me. I hope it is not acceptable to anyone. We want the money we raise for the poor, to go for the poor.
The bottom line will be a year when we have fewer resources to spend on ourselves than this year.
As we work through our plans I have asked the team to put a priority on preserving jobs and programs.
While we may not be hiring new people next year, I am working to ensure we shall not need to shed jobs. That is because I am sure this challenge is temporary. We have a good team, and we shall need them all to keep us working towards our vision.
Our main focus will be on nonessential activities. Travel, new equipment, and similar areas will be looked at. We do not plan to review salaries this year.
It will not be easy. We always feel the frustration of not having the resources we need to fulfil our important dreams.
But we will take satisfaction and joy from knowing that the temporary sacrifice is ensuring that our commitment to the poor is being expressed with integrity.
And the experience, if handled positively and prayerfully, will be good for us.
What is inside your head, is more important than what is on it.
Thus spake a Board member, Ian Breward, about my hair style.
I had been sharing with him my amazement at the reaction last year when I pulled my growing locks back into a pony tail.
“Some people thought I had been instantly transmogrified!1” I told him. “Some people liked the change. Other people did not like the change.”
“But had you changed?” he asked.
“Well I didn’t think so” I said. “I just put a rubber band around my hair.”
Of course, I recognise that the simple action of putting a rubber band around one’s hair causes problems for some people.
So too does putting a metal band through a small hole in one’s ear. Especially if you are a bloke.
Some of these people were frank enough to share their problem with me. As always, I was glad for the feedback.
“People think you’ve gone weird!”
“But I just put a rubber band around my hair,” I would protest.
“Some people think you’ve become all hippy.”
“But I haven’t changed. I still wear the same suits, follow the same football team, drive the same old station wagon.”
The truth is that, whether I changed or not, some people are convinced that putting a rubber band around your hair means you have changed.
The Apostle Paul had something to say on a similar subject.
Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God. 13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. 14I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.
I don’t want my hair style to be a stumbling block. I do not want anyone to be injured by my pony tail.
And it is not my place, as a Christian, to pass judgment, but to resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.
So I’m going back to short-back-and-sides (the top is already permanently short).
I just thought I had better explain. I would not want anyone thinking I’d changed again!
Nothing’s changed in me. I’ve just had a hair cut.