Lutheran Bible Translators, Inc.

Summary

Lutheran Bible Translators ("LBT") desires all people to hear and have access to God's Word in a language they easily understand. It is the only Lutheran group solely devoted to Bible translation and literacy work. The ministry relies on the financial support of individuals, congregations and foundations. As an independent mission organization, LBT coordinates its activities with the church at large and other Bible translation agencies. LBT was founded in 1964 by Rev. Morris Watkins and has played a key role in bringing the Word of God to a number of different people groups around the world. LBT works in over 20 countries with more than 100 missionaries from Australia, Canada and the USA who serve as advisors on linguistic analysis and train indigenous people as translation and literacy workers. These people are speakers of some 40 different languages. LBT missionaries do not work on "Lutheran translations" per se, they are simply Lutherans in the field of Bible translation. LBT will continue to seek out new opportunities to serve through missionaries specially trained to do sociolinguistic surveys which help identify where the translation needs are greatest.

This organization is a nonprofit, contributions to it are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. It is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).


Contact information

Mailing address:
PO Box 2050
303 N Lake St, Box 2050
Aurora, IL 60507-2050

Website: www.LBT.org

Phone: (630) 897-0660

Email: Info@LBT.org


Organization details

EIN: 952630437

CEO/President: Dr. Marshall Gillam

Chairman: Rev. Dr. Wayne Braun

Board size: 13

Founder: Rev. Morris Watkins

Year founded: 1964

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 12/31

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 1980


Purpose

Lutheran Bible Translators ("LBT") desires all people to hear and have access to God's Word in a language they easily understand. It is the only Lutheran group solely devoted to Bible translation and literacy work. It is not subsidized by any church body or sponsoring agency. The ministry relies on the financial support of individuals, congregations and foundations. As an independent mission organization, LBT coordinates its activities with the church at large and other Bible translation agencies. LBT was founded in 1964 by Rev. Morris Watkins and has played a key role in bringing the Word of God to a number of different people groups around the world.

LBT is working in over 20 countries around the globe. More than 100 missionaries from Australia, Canada and the USA serve as advisors on linguistic analysis and train indigenous people as translation and literacy workers. These people are speakers of some 40 different languages. LBT missionaries do not work on "Lutheran translations" per se, they are simply Lutherans in the field of Bible translation. LBT will continue to seek out new opportunities to serve through missionaries specially trained to do sociolinguistic surveys which help identify where the translation needs are greatest.

This organization is a nonprofit, contributions to it are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. It is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).


Mission statement

Lutheran Bible Translators expresses its mission statement as follows:

Lutheran Bible Translators makes God's Word accessible to those who do not yet have it in the language of their hearts.


Statement of faith

Lutheran Bible Translators expresses its faith as follows:

This organization acknowledges and accepts all the canonical books of the Bible as the verbally inspired and inerrant Word of God, the only source and norm of faith and life. It also acknowledges and accepts all the confessional books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 to be a true and genuine exposition of the doctrine of the Bible. This statement is irrevocable. (LBT Bylaws; Article I)

Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Foreign Missions

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating219 of 43037 of 78
Fund acquisition rating102 of 43019 of 78
Resource allocation rating223 of 43040 of 78
Asset utilization rating344 of 43067 of 78

Click here to read Lutheran Bible Translators, Inc.'s response to our ratings


Financial ratios

Funding ratiosMedian % for
all ministries in
MW database
20172016201520142013
Return on fundraising efforts Return on fundraising efforts =
Fundraising expense /
Total contributions
7%3%4%4%5%6%
Fundraising cost ratio Fundraising cost ratio =
Fundraising expense /
Total revenue
6%3%4%4%5%6%
Contributions reliance Contributions reliance =
Total contributions /
Total revenue
95%94%87%101%99%94%
Fundraising expense ratio Fundraising expense ratio =
Fundraising expense /
Total expenses
6%5%5%4%6%6%
Other revenue reliance Other revenue reliance =
Total other revenue /
Total revenue
5%6%13%-1%1%6%
 
Operating ratiosMedian % for
all ministries in
MW database
20172016201520142013
Program expense ratio Program expense ratio =
Program services /
Total expenses
83%82%83%80%79%79%
Spending ratio Spending ratio =
Total expenses /
Total revenue
99%59%72%107%82%100%
Program output ratio Program output ratio =
Program services /
Total revenue
81%48%60%85%65%79%
Savings ratio Savings ratio =
Surplus (deficit) /
Total revenue
1%41%28%-7%18%0%
Reserve accumulation rate Reserve accumulation rate =
Surplus (deficit) /
Net assets
3%37%31%-8%26%0%
General and admin ratio General and admin ratio =
Management and general expense /
Total expenses
10%13%12%16%16%16%
 
Investing ratiosMedian measure
for all ministries
in MW database
20172016201520142013
Total asset turnover Total asset turnover =
Total expenses /
Total assets
1.320.520.761.191.151.51
Degree of long-term investment Degree of long-term investment =
Total assets /
Total current assets
1.532.113.163.262.754.49
Current asset turnover Current asset turnover =
Total expenses /
Total current assets
2.531.092.403.883.166.76
 
Liquidity ratiosMedian measure
for all ministries
in MW database
20172016201520142013
Current ratio Current ratio =
Total current assets /
Total current liabilities
9.0921.8811.514.328.273.44
Current liabilities ratio Current liabilities ratio =
Total current liabilities /
Total current assets
0.100.050.090.230.120.29
Liquid reserve level Liquid reserve level =
(Total current assets -
Total current liabilities) /
(Total expenses / 12)
4.0710.494.562.373.341.26
 
Solvency ratiosMedian % for
all ministries in
MW database
20172016201520142013
Liabilities ratio Liabilities ratio =
Total liabilities /
Total assets
10%2%3%7%4%6%
Debt ratio Debt ratio =
Debt /
Total assets
0%0%0%0%0%0%
Reserve coverage ratio Reserve coverage ratio =
Net assets /
Total expenses
63%189%128%78%83%62%

Financials

Balance sheet
 
Assets20172016201520142013
Cash$3,555,425$1,379,731$849,459$1,153,968$329,274
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$47,204$142,556$223,487$175,631$289,965
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$3,602,629$1,522,287$1,072,946$1,329,599$619,239
Long-term investments$3,299,385$2,515,259$1,883,881$1,906,852$1,780,784
Fixed assets$268,917$326,936$377,445$425,427$379,058
Other long-term assets$439,332$446,167$159,496$0$0
Total long-term assets$4,007,634$3,288,362$2,420,822$2,332,279$2,159,842
Total assets$7,610,263$4,810,649$3,493,768$3,661,878$2,779,081
 
Liabilities20172016201520142013
Payables and accrued expenses$164,619$132,304$248,238$160,780$180,269
Other current liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total current liabilities$164,619$132,304$248,238$160,780$180,269
Debt$0$0$0$0$0
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total long-term liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total liabilities$164,619$132,304$248,238$160,780$180,269
 
Net assets20172016201520142013
Unrestricted$6,116,052$3,564,131$2,295,231$2,724,445$1,732,494
Temporarily restricted$963,686$747,105$587,124$412,753$503,718
Permanently restricted$365,906$367,109$363,175$363,900$362,600
Net assets$7,445,644$4,678,345$3,245,530$3,501,098$2,598,812
 
Revenues and expenses
 
Revenue20172016201520142013
Total contributions$6,285,491$4,441,412$3,947,592$5,059,132$3,921,129
Program service revenue$0$0$0$0$0
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$333,106$217,997($54,888)$34,396$245,193
Other revenue$82,108$433,705$19,107$13,451$12,523
Total other revenue$415,214$651,702($35,781)$47,847$257,716
Total revenue$6,700,705$5,093,114$3,911,811$5,106,979$4,178,845
 
Expenses20172016201520142013
Program services$3,232,069$3,056,275$3,343,988$3,305,852$3,293,709
Management and general$511,224$424,272$660,453$659,428$655,138
Fundraising$190,113$179,752$162,938$239,413$236,482
Total expenses$3,933,406$3,660,299$4,167,379$4,204,693$4,185,329
 
Change in net assets20172016201520142013
Surplus (deficit)$2,767,299$1,432,815($255,568)$902,286($6,484)
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$2,767,299$1,432,815($255,568)$902,286($6,484)

Response from ministry

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the rating system as well as the rating received by Lutheran Bible Translators.

Since our rating is in an "acceptable" range, I trust that the following comments will not be construed as merely sour grapes. Rather, they reflect some concerns about procedure and methodology.

The Summary Overview lists four basic principles.

#1-The system rates financial efficiency not programmatic efficiency. However, the summary statement clearly places a programmatic value on financial efficiency ("the most mission-related activity for the least amount of financial resources"). It is probably impossible to avoid, but the rating system clearly implies programmatic judgements without programmatic review.

#2- The system claims objectivity. That may be accurate for organizations that file IRS Form 990 if Wall Watchers consistently uses that information to calculate ratios. If, however, some organizational ratios are calculated from the audited financial statements, there may be a lack of consistency which results in a lack of objectivity. While auditors follow certain broad principles of consistency, there are allowable exceptions. Does Wall Watchers reclassify audit lines so that organizations will be treated consistently and, therefore, objectively? Or is the audit accepted "as is" resulting in some inconsistencies and, therefore some lack of objectivity?

#3 - The ratings are relative. That may be an accurate statement, but is it desirable? Very large organizations with a larger revenue and asset base are compared with smaller organizations. Economies of scale may adversely effect the smaller organization suggesting diminished efficiency. In fact, the smaller organization may be far more efficient because they are forced to "count their pennies" more aggressively. The ratios, however, may still appear to project lesser efficiency.

#4 - The ratio categories seem appropriate. There is a question about the Risk/Return motif. While business ratios use this language, does it really apply to nonprofit ministry organizations? The Contributions Reliance Ratio is "higher is better" if there is greater reliance on contributions. That means organizations with active endowments would rate lower because endowment return is not a contribution. That conclusion would seem to be a value judgement not an objective ratio analysis.

Calculating the Rating

On a methodology level, I have some concerns about the whole issue of averaging ratios. Tyran, in "The Vest-Pocket Guide to Business Ratios", speaks about the "deviation method" for determining the Mean of a distribution. Interestingly, his example is the calculation of the arithmetic mean for a distribution of Current Ratios. In his algebraic mean calculation, however, he does not illustrate with averaging a distribution of ratios. While Tyran is not the only resource, calculating the average of a distribution of ratios poses some problems. While it is "technically" possible, does it result in logical or useful product? Is it possible that such a calculation creates the illusion of meaning without actually producing a meaningful answer?

Step 4 is based on subtracting the risk score from the return score (based, I assume, on the fact that the Return ratio should be larger than the Risk ratio). My concern, however, is that steps three and four are based on averaging and dividing ratios of individual organizations from averaged ratios based on a distribution of ratios. Is it possible that this rather convoluted process gives the illusion of precision while actually yielding little valuable information? The average donor may well be persuaded to a conclusion without actually understanding the process involved.

Step 6 presents an interesting distribution of Stars. Given the calculation process based on individual organizations compared to the distribution, I would assume that there are very few 5 Stars and that the end result was heavily loaded to 3 Star.

The final computation is based on an average of percentile ranks. Again, we question the mathematical validity of averaging percentiles. The result "looks like a number" but is the number meaningful from a mathematical standpoint?

Assume for a moment that 3 Stars is just average - a "C" on the Ministry Watch Efficiency scale. I'm not a mathematician, but my strong impression is that the system tends to force a mid-range result. The repeated averaging of ratios and percentiles tends to force the end product of the calculation to the middle, creating the impression that the organization is inefficient and, by extrapolation, ineffective.

While our overall rating was above average by the ranking methodology and more-or-less average by the rating methodology, my concerns remain. It appears that Wall Watchers has an admirable motivation but a system with significant methodological flaws. In addition, the focus on financial efficiency will not be clear to most donors who will read the numbers and make some assumptions about the organization that Wall Watchers did not intend but which are reinforced by the methodology.


Sincerely,
Marshall R. Gillam


History

Lutheran Bible Translators was founded in 1964 by Rev. Morris Watkins. LBT is an independent mission group, founded in 1964, and is the only Lutheran organization totally devoted to this specialized ministry.

LBT has brought the Scriptures to about five million people through 15 New Testaments which have been produced. More are nearing completion and could be published in the next five years. In addition, LBT workers have begun to produce non-print media. A video portraying the life and ministry of Christ based on the book of Luke has been dubbed into the Bandi, Grebo, and Kisi languages.


Program accomplishments

Accompishments for 2003

  • Three new missionary teams were deployed in Ghana: a translation team and Scripture use team in one of Ghana's northern languages; and a Scripture use consultant who will be working in Ghana and across West Africa.
  • Two new missionary teams were deployed in Namibia: one team will be working in one of the northwestern Namibian languages; a second team will be working on one translation project while supervising several other projects.
  • A new missionary team was approved for service in Nigeria.
  • An Associate missionary team in Guatemala transitioned to full-time LBT missionary status.
  • New Testament dedications were held in Liberia (Vai language), Sierra Leone (Mende language) and Brazil (Wayampi language).
  • Advanced Training: Two missionaries engaged in doctoral programs; two missionaries engaged in master's degree programs; one missionary engaged in undergraduate degree program; one missionary engaged in advanced, non-degree, program; a prospective missionary team engaged in pre-service training; seven indigenous personnel involved in formal training at the undergraduate, master's, and non-degree levels.

Needs

Because the ministry of Lutheran Bible Translators is supported by the prayers and contributions of fellow Christians, LBT is always in need of both prayers and financial contributions. In addition, missionaries are needed to fill the open translation, literacy, and vernacular media positions around the world.