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Ecumenical aid agency ForceTen to close

After nearly four decades raising and distributing international development aid, the interchurch aid and development agency that includes Caritas Australia, has announced its closure.

Force Ten was founded in 1967 as a joint venture of the bodies now known as Caritas Australia and the National Council of Churches' Christian World Service.

ABC Radio National's Religion Report said yesterday that the reasons for Force Ten's demise are "largely financial ones". It pointed out that aid agencies have mushroomed over the past 40 years and Force Ten has found itself struggling in what's become a highly competitive marketplace. ForceTen chairman John Thomas told the program that many denominational agencies have set up during his organisation's 40 year lifetime.

He said: "I guess it becomes hard to compete in a sense for that donor dollar, and so it was felt that it was better to allow Caritas and CWS who were the two main partners, to continue on in the strength that they'd established themselves."

Caritas Australia director Jack de Groot said an independent consultant told ForceTen three years ago that its marketing would need to become more aggressive for it to survive in the now crowded marketplace, that includes high profile agencies such as Care Australia and World Vision.

He said: "[Our donors] are an ageing group, loyal but ageing. Some of them are having to drop off either because of retirement or lack of disposable income, and obviously an ageing database is also one that's not renewing itself, getting new people in."

Mr de Groot denied rumours that the withdrawal had been at Caritas' instigation and there had been discussion of a Christian World Service "buy out" of ForceTen.

This year, ForceTen has already organised Tsunami relief efforts in association with the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT). It has also planned Simply Sharing Week, which is set to take place from 15 May (pictured). Each year ForceTem acklowledges a particular injustice in the world. The focus for this year is trafficking of women and children in Asia

Force Ten closes its doors (ABC Radio Religion Report 16/2/05)


17 Feb 2005