by Audrey Riley
Women of the ELCA carries out our mission through three expressions—our congregational units, our synodical women’s organizations and our churchwide organization. Together, we mobilize women to act boldly on our faith in Jesus Christ!
Churchwide women’s organization
When we say churchwide, we’re talking about our organization in its entirety. Churchwide includes all the women who participate in Women of the ELCA in our congregational and special units, and in our synodical organizations, as well as the work of the 21 elected members of the churchwide board and the 13 staff members at the office in Chicago. All the ministry carried out by all the expressions of Women of the ELCA is entirely made possible by generously supporting one another in our callings. Together, we accomplish so much more than any one of us could do alone—thank you!
All thanks to you
Every year, individuals, units, conferences, clusters and synodical women’s organizations forward their offerings and gifts to the churchwide organization. In 2015, we gave a total of about $1,429,000 to our churchwide organization—thank you!
Other income—including our purchases of subscriptions and identity items, registrations, bequests and the income from our unrestricted endowments, among other sources—added about another $838,000 to the annual revenue of the churchwide expression of Women of the ELCA.
Total revenue from all sources in 2015 was about $2,267,000. This is what makes it possible for the churchwide expression of Women of the ELCA to carry out our mission. Thank you!
Alongside that, we also sent designated gifts through Women of the ELCA to Lutheran ministries, including ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran World Relief, totaling about $270,000.
We gave another $47,000 to our special endowment, Katie’s Fund—which added up to $1,021,520 at the end 2015—thank you!
The Ministries We Support
The ongoing ministries of the churchwide expression of our organization can be described in five categories: Communications, Programs, Operations, Governance and Executive and Membership.
Communications account for the biggest part of the expenditures of the churchwide expression – almost half. That includes Gather, Gather Bible study, Daily Grace, Café, Bold Connections, Interchange and Intercambio, the Monthly Message for synodical leaders, our social media presence, the many free resources available on our website welca.org and so much more. All these things help us strengthen our connections across the miles.
Our Evangelism, Global Education, Cross-Cultural, Racial Justice and Advocacy, Stewardship and Intergenerational programs take up only about a sixth of our annual expenditures, but they change lives—and no one can put a dollar figure on that.
In 2015, a dozen women from throughout our organization traveled to Tanzania to meet our sisters in Christ there—and it was a life-changing experience. Also in 2015, Women of the ELCA helped the youth of our church learn about human trafficking with an award-winning exhibit and advocacy opportunity at the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit.
The churchwide organization also administers grants and scholarships, supported by our giving and special endowment funds. In 2015, Women of the ELCA awarded nearly $50,000 in grants to 18 domestic and nine international programs to promote women’s total health: physical, emotional and spiritual.
For the 2015-2016 academic year, 14 Women of the ELCA scholarships were awarded to women who are members of ELCA congregations, totaling $22,000.
Also in 2015, six Raising Up Healthy Women & Girls seed grants were awarded to congregational units working to make a difference in the emotional, spiritual and physical health of women and girls in their congregations and communities. This year’s Raising Up Healthy Women & Girls seed grants brings us up to a total of 57 congregational units who have received grants since the program began in 2010.
Behind the scenes
Our communications and programs are the most visible parts of our ministry together, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, too.
This slice of the pie is just about a sixth of our annual expenditures. Included here are such things as the annual audit, liability insurance and ordinary office expenses. The biggest single item in this slice is our annual $165,000 payment to the ELCA for our office rent, which also covers technical services and other business expenses.
Our 21 elected churchwide board members and officers crisscross the country, attending training events and synodical events, leading workshops, developing local leaders and so much more, all on a volunteer basis. Did you know that every one of our elected board members is also a generous donor? That’s good stewardship and good leadership.
In 2015, governance accounted for about 14 percent of our annual expenditures. Travel costs are a big part of this piece of the pie, as we’d expect for a national organization like ours.
Executive and Membership
This part of our churchwide ministry adds up to a little less than 10 percent of our annual expenditures. Travel costs are a big part of this piece, too.
In fiscal 2015, our churchwide organization just missed our spending budget, going over by about 2 percent. That wouldn’t be much of a worry, except that our revenues— our offerings, gifts and other income—came in 6 percent under budget.
Let’s pull together and grow our ministry so we can motivate even more women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s all pledge to make at least one generous Thankoffering this year, to make generous Regular Offerings every time we gather and to help put together a Thankoffering service in our congregations. We can do it—together!
Audrey Novak Riley ([email protected]) is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA.