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MCC prepares to weather economic storm

Gladys Terichow
December 2, 2008

AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is preparing for leaner times but remains optimistic that a faithful constituency and diverse sources of income will lessen the impact of the economic downturn and unpredictable exchange rates.

"Just like we have weathered economic storms in the past we can weather this one," said Don Peters, executive director of MCC Canada.

"This is unnerving, humbling and even frightening, but at the same time we remain optimistic and encouraged that we can continue to do the work that we have been called to do, domestically and abroad."

In Canada, MCC is anticipating that income from donations, designated giving, thrift shops, MCC’s account in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and government grants will make it possible for MCC to meet financial commitments that were approved in its 2008-2009 financial plan.

However, the amount forwarded from Canada for international programs will be less than projected because of the sharp decline in the value of the Canadian dollar. MCC's work in the developing world is calculated in U.S. funds. A lower Canadian dollar buys fewer U.S. dollars.

In the U.S., executive director Rolando Santiago projects an overall budget shortfall of approximately 5 percent.

MCC's international program is currently facing a budget shortfall, says Jerry Shank, interim director for these programs. There are three main reasons for this: the declining value of the Canadian currency; decreased income from investments; and the possibility of a decline in giving as is happening at many other charities.

MCC has a rainy-day fund to help cover unexpected expenses or a sudden drop in income. A portion of this fund will be used to cover the initial budget shortfall. MCC will also begin tightening its belt to bring down expenses. In the short term these steps should not affect the people that MCC is called to serve.

However, further reductions may be required in the new year if contributions to MCC are lower than anticipated, explained Shank.

"This is forcing us to examine our priorities and make hard choices," said Shank.

Despite the economic turmoil MCC remains firmly committed to helping people in need. "Reports indicate that this economic crisis will bite deeply and that many lives will be profoundly affected," says Arli Klassen, executive director of MCC's binational operation, which is responsible for most of MCC's international programs.

"In the face of all this we are deeply grateful for people's steadfast support and prayers. Together we will continue to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless and welcome the stranger, in the name of Christ."