The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


September 30, 2010

ELCA: $30 million malaria campaign 'not feasible'

A proposed $30 million ELCA campaign around malaria will no longer go forward, but the ELCA will continue raising funds for malaria, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson wrote in a Sept. 30 email to churchwide staff.

'Hard financial realities'

"In recent months, mission support [benevolence funds that congregations pass on to synods, a percentage of which synods share with the churchwide organization] to the ELCA and support of ELCA World Hunger have declined significantly, and many synods and congregations are also struggling to deal with hard financial realities," Hanson wrote. "In the light of this difficult economic situation, ELCA leadership has determined that a $30 million campaign around malaria, which was to be tested in the current biennium, is not feasible at this time. Therefore, the decision has been made to withdraw the ELCA's grant proposal to the United Nations Foundation and to end the partnership that was entitled "Lutheran Malaria Initiative."

Hanson said the church's commitment to malaria work, global health and companions in Africa is "firm."

"The new ELCA initiative, will carry forward much of the work that the ELCA had been doing under the rubric of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative," Hanson wrote. "The ELCA Malaria Campaign, as it will now be known, will direct all of its funds to our companion churches in Africa (90 percent) and to our fund-raising efforts (10 percent)." According to Hanson, the proposed UNF-related campaign would have required that "30 percent of funds raised to go to the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] and 20 percent to be used for capacity building to encourage companion churches to participate in Global Fund country efforts." Fifty percent of ELCA funds would have supported malaria work among ELCA partners.

$15 million: a challenge, but 'doable'

Hanson wrote that leaders had "right-sized" the malaria efforts given "current realities of the ELCA." Raising $15 million "will be a challenge in the current economic environment, but is both doable and ambitious enough to meet the commitments that we have made to our companion churches in Africa," Hanson wrote. "The ELCA Malaria Campaign will continue to work closely with ELCA World Hunger, and to underscore the global health connections between malaria containment and ministry with those living with HIV and AIDS."

Hanson said that rather than compete with "core World Hunger work," the ELCA Malaria Campaign will "build further capacity" by reaching new donors and allowing current donors "to deepen their commitment above and beyond normal World Hunger giving."

Synods piloting malaria fund-raising efforts in 2010 and 2011 will "continue with their current fund-raising and awareness-raising goals," Hanson wrote.

Continued cooperation with LWR

"The ELCA plans to work cooperatively with Lutheran World Relief to contain malaria in Tanzania and other places where common work can advance the cause, and also through wider ecumenical malaria initiatives," Hanson wrote. "We are also exploring a shared approach in malaria fundraising with Lutheran World Relief to colleges and universities of the ELCA."

While the ELCA and its companion churches will continue to work with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, "no direct financial assistance will be made to the Global Fund through the ELCA Malaria Campaign," Hanson wrote. Continuing the ELCA's involvement with Nothing But Nets "is still under consideration," he added.

Hanson said that 90 [percent] of gifts to the ELCA Malaria Campaign "will assist our companion churches and partner organizations in Africa to engage in additional projects to prevent, treat, and educate about malaria," while "10 [percent] of funds raised will be used administratively to underwrite continued campaign efforts."

The new malaria effort will involve ELCA companion churches in Angola, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Hanson said. 

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