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Wycliffe Associates Sees Revenue Decline

The Bible translation organization Wycliffe Associates saw a 6 percent revenue decline for the year ending Sept. 30, 2020, according to its recently released 2020 annual report.

Revenue for 2020 was $45.9-million.  Revenue for the year before was $49.1-million.

That revenue decline came despite an increase in fundraising costs, to $7.26-million, or more than 15 percent of total revenue.  The 104 Foreign Missions organizations in the MinistryWatch database spent an average of 6 percent on fundraising.

The release of the annual report caps a tumultuous 2020 for the ministry.  In March, Wycliffe Associates resigned from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) while it was under review for possible non-compliance with the ECFA’s financial standards.

In May, an investigative article by MinistryWatch questioned claims the organization had been making regarding the effectiveness of a Bible translation program called MAST:  Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation.  Former Wycliffe Associates President Bruce Smith called MAST a “miracle,” saying that it had been integral to more than 300 New Testament translations.  However, Wycliffe Associates did not respond to multiple requests from MinistryWatch for a list of these Bible translations.

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Soon thereafter, a number of key Wycliffe Associates executives departed, followed by Bruce Smith, who resigned as president in October.  Since his departure, Tim Neu, a longtime Wycliffe Associates executive, was named interim president.

And experts in Bible translation have characterized MAST as something less than a miracle.  Scott Moreau is a professor of intercultural studies at Wheaton College.  He said, “MAST is a translation process that much (if not most) of the translation world considers a draft and not a completed translation. There are no consultant checks involved in this process. It is simply a community-based translation done by people with abbreviated training.”

A recent press release from Wycliffe Associates continues to make robust claims about its Bible translation efforts.  The Feb. 1 press release said that in 2020, “New Testament translations were completed in 141 languages, and 8 languages now have completed translations of the Old Testament.”  Once again, MinistryWatch made repeated requests to Wycliffe Associates for a list of the languages so we could attempt to verify the claims.  We have so far received no response.

Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.