Despite restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Norway raised a record amount for projects in developing countries during the annual ingathering program. The total showed the equivalent of US $570,000.00.
“We are both surprised by and very happy with this result,” says Birgit Philipsen, country director for ADRA Norway.
The Adventist Church in Norway has a long tradition of door-to-door collection to support the projects of ADRA. Because of the current lockdown, the leadership of ADRA Norway feared a massive drop in income from the annual ingathering events. A drop in funding would badly hit educational projects in developing countries.
ADRA leadership, in cooperation with Hope Channel Norway and the Norwegian Union Conference, devised a plan to inspire churches across the nation to find alternative ways of raising money other than the door-to-door collections and encouraged this as part of the Total Member Involvement (TMI) initiative. Back in November 2020, as an incentive to use innovative fundraising activities, ADRA Norway and Hope Channel Norway planned a two-hour TV program to be streamed live from the Mjøndalen Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In the weeks leading up to the transmission, churches streaming worship services showed tailor-made video clips encouraging members to take part in the event.
The plan was a success as churches and church members found alternative ways of raising money. Although teachers, students, and parents at Adventist primary schools in Norway have for many years been strong supporters of the ingathering program, last year, unfortunately, only two of the eleven schools were able to do a door-to-door collection. However, that did not stop teachers and students. Several schools organized sponsored runs with wonderful results.
The Adventist school in Mjøndalen organized a car “trunk sale” with great success. Members used social media to engage the public in fundraising activities; some used birthday fundraisers on Facebook and others advertised services to change wheels on cars to winter tires. Ole Martin Hofseth, a teacher at the Adventist School in Lillehammer, promised to do a push-up for every krone he received in a donation to ADRA. He ended up doing 8,802 push-ups.
During the live-stream program, ADRA showed a video from some of the projects they were running, and videos of what people were doing to raise money. The program also featured a live auction on Facebook and that auction alone resulted in raising kr 215,000.00 (US $25,000.00) for ADRA.
Gry Haugen, communication director for ADRA Norway, is grateful for the way church members in Norway showed the force of TMI. Because many of the projects supported by ADRA Norway focus on education for children, Haugen explains that “thanks to the efforts of church members, ADRA Norway did not have to let down the students who depend on our programs to receive an education.”
Victor Marley, president of the Norwegian Union, is also very pleased with the result.
“This proves that there is enthusiasm for mission work among our members in Norway and that everyone can play a part in Total Member Involvement,” he says.