Despite restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Norway raised a record amount for projects in developing countries during the annual ingathering program. The total showed the equivalent of US$570,000.
“We are both surprised and very happy with this result,” Birgit Philipsen, ADRA Norway country director, said.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway has a long tradition of door-to-door collection to support ADRA projects. Because of the current lockdown, ADRA Norway's leadership feared a massive drop in income from the annual ingathering events. A decrease in funding would badly hit educational projects in developing countries.
In cooperation with Hope Channel Norway and the church’s Norwegian Union Conference, ADRA leadership 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. In November 2020, as an incentive to use innovative fundraising activities, ADRA Norway and Hope Channel Norway planned a two-hour television program to be streamed live from the Mjøndalen Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In the weeks leading up to the transmission, churches that were streaming worship services showed tailor-made video clips encouraging members to participate in the event.
The plan was successful, and 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, in 2020 only two of the eleven schools were able to conduct a door-to-door collection. However, that did not stop teachers and students. Several schools organized sponsored runs with impressive 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 a service to install winter tires on cars. Ole Martin Hofseth, a teacher at the Adventist school in Lillehammer, promised to do a push-up for every krone he received in donation to ADRA. He ended up doing 8,802 push-ups.
During the livestream program, ADRA showed a video of some 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 NOK215,000 (about US$25,000).
Gry Haugen, ADRA Norway communication director, said she is grateful for how church members in Norway showed the force of Total Member Involvement (TMI). Because many of the projects supported by ADRA Norway focus on education for children, Haugen explained, “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.”
Norwegian Union president Victor Marley said he is also delighted 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 said.