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Ministry Spotlight


SIL International

Summary:  SIL International

SIL International (SIL) began in its current organizational form in 1983, even though its inspiration began in 1919 with William Cameron Townsend with his vision to see people groups in other countries have their needs met concerning language growth, progress, enhancements and enrichment for positive changes.  SIL’s work includes linguistic research, orthography development, training in translation principles, literacy methods and mother-tongue-based multilingual education, consultant help, and development of language materials and tools.  SIL has more than 84,000 materials related to language, representing more than 4,000 languages.  These materials include dictionaries, primers, academic papers and traditional stories.  SIL is working with around 1,300 communities worldwide with an impact of more than one billion speakers.

Organizationally, SIL is unique in that it is very difficult to see where it begins, where it ends and where another organization takes over.  All officers and directors are paid by legally “unrelated” organizations.  SIL has about 100 employees in the United States and about 800 employees outside the United States; however, more than 3,000 other people “work” for SIL, by individuals recruited and whose time is “donated” by organizations which are members of the Wycliffe Global Alliance.  SIL is a “membership” nonprofit organizanation and the majority of its member are the same individuals whose salaries get recorded as “donated” labor.  Wycliffe Global Alliance is also SIL’s primary source of revenue.  And partner organizations receive grants from SIL, such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, SIL LEAD, JAARS, First Love International, and The Wycliffe Seed Company.  JAARS and SIL LEAD are under the legal control of SIL International.  And the very close working organizational relationships, including financial transactions and contracts besides JAARS, and SIL LEAD include, Wycliffe Bible Translators, The Wycliffe Seed Company, Wycliffe Global Alliance, RIA Charitable Investments and Dallas International University.  In addition, SIL also works in partnership with another 25 institutions around the world concerning applied linguistics.  

The aim of SIL Internaitonal is to see all people groups to thrive and be successful with their own language that they value the most.

MinistryWatch Donor Confidence Score:  80 (out of a possible 100) “Give With Confidence”

MinistryWatch Financial Efficiency Rating:  3 Star (out of a possible 5 Stars)

MinistryWatch Transparency Grade:  A

ECFA Member?  Yes

Revenue in Most Recent Year Available (2020):  $37,452,784

Five-Year Revenue Trend:  Decreasing  (by about 9% change)

Percent of Revenue SIL International spends on Fundraising:  zero percent 

Percent Peer Group Spends on Fundraising:  5 percent

(The reason for zero fundraising is that the majority of its “contribution income” comes mainly from member organizations of Wycliffe Global Alliance)

President & CEO:  Dr. Michel Kenmogne

President’s Salary and Other Compensation:  $148,276

(salary is paid by legally “unrelated” organization)

The Complete MinistryWatch profile for SIL International can be found here.

Find recent MinistryWatch articles mentioning SIL International here.

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Rod Pitzer

Rodney Pitzer, Certified Fraud Examiner since 2005, has worked for audit and investigative organizations, including Oregon Department of Justice's Charitable Activities, and being Director of the Oregon Board of Tax Professionals in 1999. In 2011 founded AVOWED.org, ministering to widows, elderly and the disabled, and now scheduled to plant a church in Corpus Christi, Texas.