World Vision announces layoffs

The philanthropic non-profit giant World Vision, with its headquarters in Federal Way, began employee layoffs June 29.

A decrease in cash donations for the first part of this year is the cause of the layoffs, according to the announcement. A maximum of 60 (5 percent) of the U.S. offices' 1,200 employees will receive layoff notices, according to the information. A maximum of another 36 (3 percent) currently unfilled positions will be eliminated. The employees were notified beginning the same day World Vision issued its announcement.

Dean Owen, World Vision director of executive communications, said the number of layoffs are likely to be nearer to 50 staff members and 25 eliminated unfilled positions. Federal Way's office, 34834 Weyerhaeuser Way S., employs roughly 800 staff members, he said. Owen is unsure how many local employees will be laid off.

Employee layoffs are not the only moves World Vision is taking in its attempts to balance its budget. The non-profit will reduce, by 50 percent, contributions to its employees' 403(b) plans. The plan is similar to a 401(k) and offered to tax exempt, public school and ministry workers. A retirement plan, funded fully by World Vision, will not be affected. Premiums for health care benefits will increase, according to the information provided by World Vision. Annual merit raises will also be put on hold for the second consecutive year, according to the information.

"We can no longer avoid the painful cost reduction steps that many organizations have already implemented," World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns said in a prepared statement. "The efforts of our faithful employees and donors have allowed us to swim against the tide longer than almost any other non-profit."

The changes are the direct cause of a drop in private cash donations, according to the World Vision announcement. Between October and December 2008, the donations increased 4 percent. But donations for the second quarter of the fiscal year, January through March 2009, dropped by 3 percent, according to World Vision. Currently, third quarter cash contributions are about 18 percent lower than they were at this time last year.

September marks the end of World Vision's 2009 fiscal year. A $39 million cash donation shortfall is expected. This number is 2 percent lower than what World Vision experienced last year, according the information. The lack in contributions is coming primarily from major donors and those who give periodic gifts, according to World Vision. Income from child sponsors remains strong.

World Vision's projected 2009 fiscal year cash income is estimated at $1.6 billion, according to the organization. The United States is projected to contribute 37 percent of this. Donations from Canada, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan and the United Kingdom are expected to account for 46 percent of expected 2009 income, according to the information.

"This is a time for us to come together in prayer for one another, asking for God's grace as we deal with the impact of the hard decisions that we have had to make," Stearns said. "We have an opportunity and responsibility to model Christ-like attitudes and behaviors in the midst of troubling times and to stay focused on World Vision's mission to which we've been called."

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