FAQs

Can I visit a project? 

People passionate about helping others through ALWS may be interested in visiting an ALWS project. Our highest priority working in developing countries is always to put efficiency and effectiveness of development work first. As you’d understand, that means we must always consider the project’s work schedules and local program objectives before we can offer to facilitate a project visit. 

Where it is possible to organise a project visit, and local security conditions and Government travel advisories allow, the following conditions apply to single visitors or couples:

  • all travel expenses are to be met by the visitors
  • time of visit is to be determined by project and ALWS staff to ensure minimum interruption to the project's planned activities.

If wanting to take a group, the following additional conditions apply:

  • no more than 8-10 people in the group.
  • an ALWS staff member must accompany the group
  • the cost of ALWS staff travel expenses must also be met (unless the visit coincides with an already planned visit to the country by the ALWS staff member)

Please contact us on 1300 763 407 * alws@alws.org.au  for further information.

I’m interested in volunteering in an ALWS-supported project – what opportunities do you have? 

Volunteer opportunities can be offered if there is a request for volunteers from a particular country program or project. To ensure our development work is of a high quality, and efficiency isn’t compromised, conditions are quite stringent, and include the following:

  • usually the minimum period of service is at least 3 to 6 months.
  • specific skills, training etc are necessary to match the position available.
  • A preference for people with working ability in the local language as many projects are in non-English speaking countries.
  • Travel costs are generally met by the volunteer.
  • Accommodation & basic living costs are usually met by the project.

Please contact us on 1300 763 407 * alws@alws.org.au  for further information.

Can we send books/clothes/other goods to projects? 

Many generous people, recognizing how blessed we are here in Australia and New Zealand, feel moved to share what they have with families in poor communities.

However, the mechanics of sending goods overseas generally make this an impractical and inefficient way to help people:

  • shipping costs are very expensive
  • customs duties can cost more than the value of goods themselves
  • ALWS projects are often in remote regions, and transport costs can be high
  • managing transport and distribution of goods can use a large amount of staff time, better applied elsewhere
  • the proposed goods may not be appropriate for the local situation, and therefore may end up being discarded
  • it can be difficult to make certain all members of a community benefit equally
  • sourcing goods locally provides employment opportunities and benefits the local economy

For these reasons, ALWS does not support sending gifts-in-kind overseas. Donations of money are by far the most practical, efficient and effective means of helping.

Where does ALWS ‘fit’ in the total ministry of the church? 

ALWS has been established by the Lutheran Church of Australia to meet human need, without any strings attached. This work takes us into places where there may not be local churches and involves us with people who may not be Christian.  This gives you the wonderful opportunity to reflect God’s unconditional love to others and display in actions Jesus’ love for us.

ALWS has been set up as a complementary body to the LCA’s Mission International (MI), which has a mandate to spread the Gospel message. MI works primarily in partnership with overseas partner churches to strengthen and support their ministry.

ALWS and MI work together as an expression of the total ministry of the LCA to both proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel message to the world.

Can we sponsor a child through ALWS? If not, what do you offer? 

ALWS does not offer a child sponsorship program. A key reason is that our partners do not support this form of giving, as it’s not consistent with proven integrated and empowerment approaches to development. Another factor is the amount of resources required to operate such a program often means that a great deal of time and money is used up in running the program, rather than directly helping the people who need help.

However, we do offer:

a. The opportunity for Easy Regular Giving
Your donation supports the work of ALWS, including our overseas program that assists whole communities in their long-term development, in countries such as Cambodia, Nepal and Sudan. You receive written updates twice a year on how your support is helping people around the world.

b. Gifts to specific projects
Although ALWS especially values gifts that are provided on an undesignated basis, donors are able to specify their gifts to particular projects with the ALWS Overseas Program. Currently, these projects are:

Click on the countries to read more about what is happening there.

c. Village Partnership in Cambodia

This initiative involves being linked with a village in Cambodia and providing financial support for their development activities. Find out more

See also question 6 below for more details about supporting a specific activity. 

Rather than making a donation to the overall work of ALWS, we’d like to support a specific activity. Can you find us one? 

It’s wonderful that you want to help others through ALWS. However, supporting only a specific activity can take up a lot of resources in terms of time and money relative to the size of the activity, and therefore it is not always the best or most efficient way to help. The following paragraphs may help to explain this.

60 years of experience has demonstrated that individual activities which don’t fit within an overall development program don’t achieve sustainable outcomes. That’s why we support integrated development.

  • Integrated development = all of the development activities work together. For example, rather than just a well being built, the project also makes sure that there is training in how to fix the pump if it breaks, training in good water and sanitation practices, and a road to get to the well! Just a well on its own isn’t so useful.

ALWS and our partners also want to ensure that all projects are carefully monitored and evaluated. Therefore, any specific activity requires this same high standard of monitoring and evaluation. This follow-up in terms of proposals and reports which must be written creates a great deal of work for program and project staff and means that time and resources, which are  very stretched already, are perhaps not used as efficiently or effectively as they could be.

We understand that it’s easier for people, especially children, to visualise how they are helping others by having a specific activity. That’s why we’ve tried to put in place a number of ways for people to understand the help they are providing while at the same time, making sure we use your donations as effectively and efficiently as possible:

  • Our Gifts of Grace catalogues provide you with concrete examples of the kind of help you can provide to people in need through ALWS.
  • Our Village Partnership  initiative links a group here in Australia with a developing village in Cambodia.
  • Each year, we identify a number of specific activities which fit within our current programs and which you’re most welcome to support. In this way, we’re able to offer the link to specific support while at the same time making sure that specific activities don’t consume a disproportionate amount of resources and still fit within an overall development program. Contact us on 1300 763 407 or alws@alws.org.au for further information.

We value very highly donations made to the overall work of ALWS, as this allows us to use the funds where they are most needed to help the most number of people possible. Of course, we are also greatly appreciative of any support for specific activities and understand the need for these. Because of the increase in resources required for managing specific activities, any contribution you or your group can make to the overall work of ALWS throughout the year would be greatly appreciated.

For further information or if you have any other questions, please contact ALWS on 1300 763 407 or alws@alws.org.au. 

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How and why does ALWS access funding from the Australian Government (DFAT)? e.g. Does the Australian Government match supporters donations dollar for dollar? 

ALWS accesses Australian Government funding through a number of avenues. However, in order to be eligible for any funding, ALWS has to be accredited by the government. The accreditation process is a very rigorous one, demanding transparency and accountability, effective and sustainable partner development, and a proven track record in delivering a development program to name but a few foci.

Avenues of Funding:

i. ANCP (Australian NGO Cooperation Program)
This funding scheme aims to subsidise Australian Non-Government Organisation (NGO) community development activities which directly and tangibly alleviate poverty in developing countries. The level of subsidy is assessed on a complex formula, but is based on how much ALWS raises from its own constituency. In other words, under this scheme the more generous our supporters the greater the support from the Australian Government. However the ANCP funding subsidy does not match ALWS funds dollar for dollar. Once the level of funding is known Annual Development Plans are submitted to the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for approval, which must meet the criteria governing the ANCP scheme. DFAT subsidises the approved projects on a 5:1 basis. At the end of the year ALWS must submit to DFAT a Development Plan Report accompanied by a Financial Report by a set date. The value of the ANCP is that it increases the financial support available to community development projects supported by ALWS.

ii. PNG CPP (Church Partnership Program)
This program is funded by the Australian Government and was introduced in 2004 with the view to enhancing the capacity of the main PNG churches to contribute to PNG development and social stability. Its purpose is to help PNG Churches promote good governance, through strengthening their role in policy dialogue, service delivery and peace and reconciliation activities. The CPP reflects a greater recognition by the Australian Government of the churches in PNG society and their potential to play a prominent role in civil society in promoting good governance. ALWS does provide some minor level of funding to this CPP. As with the ANCP funding scheme, eligibility to CPP funds requires any participating development agency to be accredited by the Australian Government.

Similar Plan and  Report expectations apply to the PNG CPP.

Why does ALWS operate through partnerships such as LWF/Dept for World Service, actalliance and the Church Partnership Program (CPP) in PNG? Is it just a cash register for LWS? 

Whilst ALWS benefits from and contributes to the collaborative strengths and experiences of the international network of LWF/Department for World Service and LWS Field Programs, it is an autonomous organization within that network. The benefits of this network membership are many and include:

  • access to a well established and long term partner in the field projects
  • the application of a transparent and accountable financial package to all program/project financial matters
  • the sharing of professional development opportunities and materials.
  • access to a wide range of resources and expertise.
  • the shared use of LWF/LWS facilities, staff and other necessary infrastructure in project areas which enables the donors' dollars to achieve the maximum.

However, as the official overseas aid/development and resettlement agency of the LCA, ALWS does support projects in countries where there is a strong link with the LCA through its Board for Mission, but where there is no established LWS program. e.g. PNG and Indonesia.

ALWS works through ACT alliance during emergencies. ACT alliance is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. Its coordinating office is based with LWF and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Switzerland.

Why is ALWS located in Albury? 

There are historic, economic and strategic reasons for this location.
(i) Historic (Mission, Vision, Story )
(ii) Economic... cheaper rent etc
(iii) Strategic... easy access to Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.