March 4, 2020
A fundraising update from AJS Executive Director, Jill Stoltzfus
Many of you have been asking how AJS-Honduras is doing financially after the sudden and unanticipated budget cuts last year. The short answer to that question is: God is so good!
When we learned last year that the U.S. government had suddenly decided to cut all funds to Honduras, we felt shocked, overwhelmed, and so discouraged. For AJS, that decision meant we would lose more than half of our budget. It meant we would have to close good programs and lay off almost half of our hard-working staff. It felt like a crisis we could not fix.
But then, we shared what was happening with all of you and you immediately began to respond. You asked good questions, pledged to pray and write letters, and gave so generously that we were completely blown away. Our discouragement gave way to immense gratitude as hundreds of you showed your support for AJS’s justice work in Honduras.
I like numbers, so here are some that show how generously you gave. Within 44 days of the announcement about aid being cut, you sent us our entire annual budget. We now have committed to send $1.2 million dollars more to Honduras in 2020 than we had expected. All of this will help to fill the financial gap left by the loss of our U.S. government funds.
When I was in Honduras last month for the building dedication (which was pretty awesome), I was talking to Kurt and he put it like this:
“Shortly after we found out that our funding was going to be cut in half, we put together eight budget scenarios, from worst to best, based on how much money we were able to raise. These scenarios were pragmatic and even our best case scenario still meant we’d need to cut staff, as we didn’t think it would be possible to find all the funding we were losing. Each scenario detailed what programs and staff would be cut and what we could keep. It was such a depressing task and those numbers woke me up many a night.
But, then AJS supporters showed up and we have now blown past even our most optimistic scenario. We are so grateful, and what I didn’t realize was how much that support would mean for our Honduran staff who were feeling unjustly attacked and unappreciated. It lifted their spirits and renewed their commitment to their work. For them it was especially significant to meet so many of you in Honduras last month, it made that support and this AJS community so much more real to them.”
But, all this good news doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. While it’s much better than we expected, our budget is not where it was in 2019. 42 staff were still laid off, which means their colleagues must cover more tasks with fewer resources. And while we are working hard to get new long-term funds, that process is long and complex, meaning funding for our work in 2021 is not secure.
So, the long and the short of it is: Thank you so much for stepping up for AJS when we needed you most. We are so grateful and humbled. And please stay with us for the long haul. Kurt likes to say the work of justice is hard, but not too hard; it takes a long time, but not too long. We hope you will partner with us for the long, hard, beautiful work of bringing God’s justice to Honduras.
Thank you and God bless,
Association for a More Just Society – U.S.