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IF:Gathering Participants Have Pledged More Than $5 Million To Bible Translations, But For What?

Women’s conference donated more than $5 million to illumiNations, but questions remain about status of projects

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Jennie Allen’s IF:Gathering and illumiNations 12 Verse Challenge have teamed up to raise money for bible translation efforts since 2021. They plan to once again partner at the IF:Gathering 2024, which is already sold out.

“Over the last three years, in partnership with Jennie Allen and the IF:Gathering, the illumiNations 12 Verse Challenge has generated $5.7 million in pledges toward Bible translation work,” according to an illumiNations spokesperson.

“Even with expected rates of attrition among those who made a pledge through the IF:Gathering, more than 150,000 verses of God’s Word will be translated into new languages,” the spokesperson added.

IllumiNations raises funds and distributes grants to eleven bible translation groups with the goal of making “God’s word accessible to all people by 2023.” It consists of groups such as American Bible Society, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Biblica, and the Seed Company.

The 12-Verse Challenge asks donors to commit $35 per month to translate 12 verses of scriptures in a year—one verse per month. It claims this strategy will help bring bible translations to the 3,617 language groups who do not have the bible translated into their heart language.

Although illumiNations didn’t reveal the cost to sponsor IF:Gathering, it said “a small group of generous donors” underwrite all of illumiNations expenses. Therefore, the $5.7 million in pledges are used to fund “translation projects among the 11 illumiNations translation agencies.”

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When MinistryWatch followed up to ask about the specific projects, how much progress had been made toward completing the 150,000 verses, and if any books of the Bible had yet been completed, illumiNations did not respond.

In 2021, the first year of the partnership, illumiNations’ IRS Form 990 shows that only eight out of the 11 translation agencies received grants from the consortium. No grants are shown for SIL, United Bible Societies, and unfoldingWord. In 2022, no grants were given to three of the 11 illumiNations agencies: SIL, United Bible Societies, and The Word for the World.

Likewise, no one at Jennie Allen’s group replied to our repeated inquiries about the partnership.

IF:Gathering is a non-profit organization that received its tax-exempt status in 2013. According to its IRS Form 990 for 2022, it had about $4.2 million in revenue. Expenses included $1.45 million for salaries and other compensation and $2.3 million for other expenses. IF:Gathering had $3.45 million in assets on hand.

The first IF:Gathering was held in 2014 inspired by the question, “If God is real…then what?” Its core mission is discipleship.

“IF:Gathering exists to equip women with gospel-centered resources, events, and community so that they may learn about who God is and disciple other women right where they are,” its website states.

IllumiNations is part of a web of interconnected grant-making charitable groups including the National Christian Charitable Foundation and Global Generosity.

IllumiNations received its non-profit status in 2019 and has grown to revenue exceeding $52 million per year. In 2022, illumiNations’ largest grant recipient was the National Christian Charitable Foundation at $23.4 million.

However, the National Christian Charitable Foundation, also known as the National Christian Foundation (NCF), is not specifically a bible translation group. Its mission is more broad: “[m]obilizing resources by inspiring biblical generosity.” It gives grants to a variety of causes including churches, crisis pregnancy centers, and anti-trafficking groups.

IllumiNations president David Wills, who according to the group’s 2022 IRS Form 990, receives no salary for his work, has also been president of NCF and is currently president emeritus. IllumiNations listed NCF as a related organization in 2021 and 2022.

In 2021, NCF gave Global Generosity $1.97 million. David Wills serves as the president of Global Generosity, where, according to the organization’s 2021 Form 990, he earns a salary of $237,540 plus additional compensation of $52,909.

In 2021, Global Generosity reported revenue of $2.88 million.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.