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Facing the final quarter, focusing on a “win”

   

Winnipeg, Man.— Like the final quarter of a Grey Cup football game, Mennonite Church Canada is well into the final quarter of its fiscal year.

And like the game, the results of the final quarter will soon play out. The score so far is close: as of November 28, about 64% or $2.5 million of anticipated donation income has come in. By the time you read this in Canadian Mennonite, there will be just six weeks left in the fiscal year (it ends on January 31-2004), and 2 weeks or less left in the calendar year. This year’s donation target is $3.9 million.

But hope in God’s faithfulness suggests that a clear run to the goal line will clinch this year’s final in favor of MC Canada. Last year, 43.7% of donations arrived at MC Canada offices in the fiscal year’s final quarter; this year, 36% of total annual giving must yet come in during the months of December and January. An early touchdown this year would set the stage for a field goal – an opportunity to exceed giving targets and help ensure the stability of programs and ministries over the longer term.

Al Rempel, Director of Resource Development, is a bit concerned by a trend that is consistent with more recent years: congregational giving is trending downward, while individual and corporate giving is trending slightly upward. “So far, the two are balancing each other out,” he said.

To help even out the money flow, congregations and individuals are being encouraged to use the relatively new Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) – a banking feature that allows donors to pre-authorize and pre-set automatic transfers from their account to MC Canada at regular intervals. “EFT can really help smooth out the year,” says Rempel. “Having access to income earlier in the year or just at regular intervals helps us to reduce our reliance on a line of credit during the early months of the fiscal year, when giving normally subsides.”

Donors who have been too busy to post a cheque can make a last minute contribution via the MC Canada web site. “It’s a very convenient way to give at the last minute for anyone who may have forgotten to write and post a cheque before the close of the income tax year,” said Rempel. The web site (www.mennonitechurch.ca/give) offers secure transactions via major credit cards.

Like a field kick at a Grey Cup game, the final MC Canada score is still in the air and won’t be settled until the books are officially closed in February, 2004. But the analogy of a football game goes only so far; the church is deeply aware that being a part of God’s mission is much more compelling than a game. “The light of God’s grace continues to shine through to us in many ways,” says Rempel. “I’m praying that we can abandon ourselves to Christ’s message this Christmas like we never have before.”

Rempel says he’s cautiously confident in the outcome. He’s been stacking the team – talking with congregations and asking them to inform MC Canada of their giving intentions, this year and next. “In our last communication with church treasurers we included a short form asking congregations to advise us as to what level of giving we can expect. These are starting to come back, and it’s gratifying to see congregations respond. It’s a tremendous help, knowing what to anticipate,” he said.