• Frequently Asked Questions

Church, Faith and Lutheran History
Why doesn’t Lutheran World Relief evangelize?

Following the example Jesus sets in the story of the Good Samaritan, Lutheran World Relief expresses faith through action, serving people in need without regard for religious affiliation. This commitment often permits Lutheran World Relief to work in areas prohibited to other church groups.

What’s the difference between Lutheran World Relief and the ELCA World Hunger Appeal?

Lutheran World Relief and ELCA World Hunger Appeal share the same goals but have different roles and responsibilities. Lutheran World Relief carries out material aid distribution, relief and development programs overseas, working with a variety of local partners in any given country, including churches, faith-based agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Lutheran World Relief receives financial support from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through the World Hunger Appeal to carry out its work.

The ELCA World Hunger Appeal is the ELCA-designated congregational fundraiser for its institutional partners engaged in anti-hunger work, including Lutheran World Relief, the Lutheran World Federation and domestic Lutheran organizations. The World Hunger Appeal provides information and educational materials for congregations on issues related to hunger and poverty.

What’s the difference between Lutheran World Relief and LCMS Disaster Relief?

LCMS Disaster Relief (formerly LCMS World Relief and Human Care) provides domestic, international, and disaster assistance. LCMS Disaster Relief’s international ministries include funding to LCMS World Mission, Lutheran World Relief, and development projects with LCMS partner churches around the world. 

Is Lutheran World Relief affiliated with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC)?

Yes, Lutheran World Relief is the NALC’s official international relief and development partner. Lutheran World Relief is also an official Mission Agency of the LCMC. In addition, Lutheran World Relief welcomes the participation of any Lutheran individual or congregation that wishes to engage with Lutheran World Relief.

When was Lutheran World Relief formed and why?

Lutheran World Relief was created by the former National Lutheran Council (NLC), whose members included eight American Lutheran church bodies. It was incorporated in 1945 as an independent agency, legally separate from, but governed by, NLC member churches. Its purpose was to provide relief to Europe after World War II by shipping material resources that Lutheran congregations gathered.

Emergency and Disaster Response
How does Lutheran World Relief respond to emergencies?

Lutheran World Relief responds to emergencies when the severity of the situation exceeds the ability of local people to cope and the ability of local, state, and national organizations and governments to respond.  Lutheran World Relief prioritizes response to emergencies in the countries and regions where we work, specifically focusing on areas where Lutheran World Relief partners and communities are located. When responding to a disaster, Lutheran World Relief prefers to work through local partners in our focus countries.  When local partners do not have the capacity to respond, Lutheran World Relief also works with international organizations, such as ACT Alliance.  Lutheran World Relief also responds to large-scale disasters anywhere in the world as resources permit.

How does Lutheran World Relief ensure emergency relief or disaster aid gets to those who need it?

Lutheran World Relief has a strong desire to provide aid in the most efficient and effective manner following an emergency.

  • Lutheran World Relief works with local partners and organizations on the ground who help ensure
    • the response is focused in the affected areas
    • the community leaders are involved and have determined an appropriate response
    • the project meets relevant professional international standards and guidelines
    • regular reporting on the use of funds and impacts on the community
  • Depending on the situation, Lutheran World Relief staff may be involved in monitoring the response.  They work and talk with community members and leaders and representatives from the local partners to review progress and ensure the assistance is working to help the community.
  • After a time period, some projects go through formal evaluations to determine results and lessons learned that can be used in future emergencies.
How much of my donation goes toward a designated disaster/emergency?

Approximately 85 percent.

How does Lutheran World Relief respond with Quilts or Care Kits to a disaster?

Lutheran World Relief often responds to a disaster with Quilts and Care Kits. However, that is determined on a case by case basis depending on accessibility, partners, need, etc. Material response is always part of Lutheran World Relief’s initial assessment.

Does Lutheran World Relief recruit U.S. volunteers for a disaster response?

Lutheran World Relief relies on field staff, partners and local volunteers to respond to emergencies as a way to maintain efficiency, expertise and empowerment. If you are interested in volunteering in disaster response, we encourage you to do so through your church body (ELCA or LCMS) or through the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity.

How is Lutheran World Relief funded?

Lutheran World Relief receives funding from individuals, congregations and congregational groups in addition to support by three major Lutheran church bodies: the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod (LCMS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) World Hunger Appeal. Additional funding comes through charitable foundations and from U.S. government grants.

Please refer to our financial documents for more information. 

Giving and Donations
Is it possible to designate donations for specific projects?

Undesignated gifts allow Lutheran World Relief to use your resources where they are needed the most. However, you may designate gifts to the following established funds: 

  • Water
  • Hunger
  • World of Good (our emergency response fund)
  • Specific regions (Africa, Asia, Middle East, Latin America)
  • Specific emergencies
  • Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund
Is it possible to designate donations to a specific emergency?

Yes, as long as Lutheran World Relief is responding to that emergency. All gifts designated for emergencies are used in that region until the needs there are met. If we receive more funding than we are able to program, those funds will be used where needs are greatest.

Where can I get more information about how you use the donations you receive?

Lutheran World Relief takes seriously issues of accountability and stewardship regarding the funds entrusted to us. Lutheran World Relief's financial information (including all salaries) is audited each year by an external firm according to generally accepted accounting principles. Please visit our financials page for our most recent audited financial statement. 

Because we take stewardship and accountability so seriously, Lutheran World Relief has worked hard to ensure that we consistently meet and exceed financial, ethical, reporting and excellence standards set by several national and international charity watchdog agencies including:

  • Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance  
  • Maryland Association of Nonprofits Standards of Excellence
  • InterAction
  • Guidestar
  • Charity Navigator
  • Charity Watch