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Lutheran World Relief: branding the problem

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Thanks to the new focus they’d given to articulating a New Ambition and by actively pursuing a refreshed strategy Lutheran World Relief noted a double digit increase in fundraising income from individual giving.


Lutheran World Relief (LWR), a division of Corus International, is an international NGO based in Baltimore, Maryland.


Tackling global poverty by helping people adapt to challenges that threaten their livelihoods and well-being, they provide development, relief and disaster prevention services to over 40 targeted countries.


After noticing declining revenue in their long-established individual giving programme, the VP of External Relations and the Associate VP of External Relations and Engagement chose to attend the Great Fundraising Masterclass in November 2019.


Focus on the problem


Though they arrived with doubts the Masterclass opened their eyes to the challenges they were facing. In particular, they saw how the organization had a long list of problems to solve but not the focus they needed to structure their fundraising and communications in a powerful way for donors.


As a result, LWR sent a significant body of cross representational staff to a bespoke New Ambition seminar in December 2019. And through this, more than 60 members of staff contributed to the search to define a new focus and ambition for their organization.


No compromise


By the time the new year came around, LWR began working more closely with directors at Philanthropy and Fundraising North America (PFNA). And in doing so, they were able to stay true to their organizational mission without compromising their focus on a New Ambition and continuing the process of creating cultural change within the organisation.


Soon afterwards Covid-19 arrived, and they found a new set of problems to manage.  Quickly holding a co-creative lab with PFNA allowed them to dive into Covid-19 because they were operating at ground zero throughout Africa and Latin America. This process allowed them to further refine their problem and view it through a new lens.


Investing in growth


LWR understood how much they needed to invest in their individual giving programme to drive the focus of their New Ambition. New donor acquisition increased by 54% in year one.  In addition, LWR developed a new individual giving programme for monthly givers that focused communication on their New Ambition. And, having discovered the potential to reactivate lapsed donors, over a few short months they were able to bring back more than 10% of their lapsed donors.

One of the areas of greatest impact in working with PFNA is the culture change.  Not just in our fundraising and marketing teams, and there has been dynamic and transformational change on those teams, however across our entire organization.  For myself seeing the impact of getting the entire organization behind not just the concept of fundraising, but also the message and the team has been absolutely transformational at LWR.  The result has been double digit growth.  PFNA have played a crucial role in that outcome.

David Fuerst, Associate VP of External Relations and Engagement, Lutheran World Relief

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