[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Thanks to the generous support and coordinated efforts of thousands of Episcopalians and friends, Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th Anniversary Celebration exceeded its goals for fundraising and engagement throughout the Church and beyond. During the 75-week celebration, the organization raised $7.94 million as part of a special campaign, and connected with supporters through live events, webinars, stories and a traveling photo exhibition.
“After 75 years of serving millions of people around the world, Episcopal Relief & Development and our faithful supporters had much to celebrate – and what a celebration it was!” said Neel Lane, chair of Episcopal Relief & Development’s board of directors. “On behalf of our board and staff, thank you to our excellent honorary and steering committees, and to all who pledged themselves this past year and a half toward our shared mission of healing a hurting world.”
The goals of the 75th Anniversary Celebration were to build awareness about Episcopal Relief & Development’s work and strengthen the organization’s capacity to fulfill its mission through raising $7.5 million. The total amount exceeded the goal by nearly half a million dollars, thanks in part to a successful 2015 Matching Gift Challenge, which raised $979,708 and activated a matching amount of $750,000. Support for the 75th Anniversary Campaign came from around the Episcopal Church, including the General Convention Eucharist offering, the House of Deputies campaign and many diocesan and local campaigns.
“It has been an honor to chair this fabulous effort, which has united the gifts and energies of so many people across the Episcopal Church and in the wider community,” said Katy George, former board member and chair of the 75th Anniversary Celebration Steering Committee. “The support raised throughout the celebration, both in funding and in advocates who are telling the story of Episcopal Relief & Development, will sustain the organization for years to come.”
The capstone event of the anniversary celebration was the International Symposium, held at New York’s Harold Pratt House on November 11, 2015. Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry of the Episcopal Church preached at the opening Eucharist, and World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim delivered the keynote address. Four panel discussions followed, presenting case studies and perspectives on the strengths and complexities of local partnerships, as well as the role of faith-based actors in development work. The evening concluded with a dramatic performance from actress, playwright and social commentator Anna Deavere Smith.
Two celebration-long initiatives for inviting broader participation in the anniversary commemoration were the 75 Stories Project and the traveling photo exhibition. The 75 Stories Project exceeded its goal, sharing a total of 95 stories that featured voices from Episcopal Relief & Development’s staff, partners and friends, through written, video and multimedia content from the United States and around the world.
The 75th Anniversary Photo Exhibition honored the organization’s history and mission by inviting supporters on a visual journey through more than 30 iconic photos from programs around the world. The exhibition traveled to 33 Episcopal dioceses, as well as important Episcopal Church meetings and the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, where the organization hosted a celebration event with remarks from then-Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop-elect Michael B. Curry, House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings and other friends.
“This was a momentous opportunity to celebrate the legacy of those whose support and dedicated action over the past 75 years has enabled this organization to carry out Jesus’ words from Matthew 25: to welcome the stranger and care for those on the margins,” said Rob Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “My deep thanks go to our board, staff, donors, partners and friends, whose enthusiasm and energy made this a vibrant celebration of the transformative power of faith and communities working together to create lasting change.”
For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.