Canadian mission agencies and organizations working overseas in relief and development are struggling to keep paying their bills with dollars that are worth a lot less than they used to be.
The Canadian dollar-known as the "loonie" for the waterfowl on the back of the brass-colored coin-fell in value to 63 cents U.S. in late summer before rallying to 66 cents.
The problem for Canadian organizations is that virtually all transactions overseas are paid in U.S. funds. That means money for salaries, rents, equipment purchases, supplies, and even monetary aid must be converted into U.S. currency. Agencies are faced with tough choices -cut back on overseas programs or ask donors for more money.
"The first thing we do is look at things that don't affect programs overseas," says Philip Maher, World Vision Canada's information officer. That might mean waiting until next year before buying new equipment for the Canadian office. Although wvc had budgeted for a devalued loonie this year, the dollar dropped lower than predicted.
Other organizations, such as Canadian Baptist Ministries, are preparing to ask supporters for increased donations. "We're reluctant to cut back on programs," says Blair Clark, CBM's director of resource development. "We're going after donors and asking them to dig deeper."
Asking for more money is not easy when supporters are already giving sacrificially, says Ken Reeve of Far East Broadcasting Associates of Canada. "Many of them are giving as much as they can." Despite the dollar doldrums, most Canadian agencies see little need for panic. "It's hurting us, but we won't call it a crisis to our donors," says Paul Carrick of Cause Canada, which does development work in Africa and Latin America. "It isn't the same as ...1
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