WMU announces voluntary retirement plan amid COVID financial crisis

In response to a decline in sales due to COVID-19, national WMU announced Aug. 5 it is offering a voluntary retirement plan to all full-time and part-time staff who meet the criteria for retirement.

“We have worked incredibly hard over the past several years to ‘right size’ our organization based on revenue projections,” said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director of national WMU. “With two difficult back-to-back downsizings and budget cuts, our goal has been to simplify and put limited resources where they can make the most impact for the Kingdom.”

Over the past four years, WMU has cut 34% from its budget, which will equal $5.2 million beginning in October for 2020-21. Sales of curriculum for missions groups are WMU’s main source of revenue and, with uncertainty related to the pandemic, curriculum sales have dwindled.

“This year we were strategically poised for growth, and then COVID-19 hit our vibrant ministry with a force unequal to anything we’ve seen in recent decades,” Wisdom-Martin said.

When churches suspended in-person services and many across the country were sheltering-at-home at the pandemic’s onset, WMU responded by providing numerous resources online. Still, WMU grappled with lost income due to decreased sales.

With diminished revenue and uncertainty of when it may rebound, WMU leaders decided to contain costs and present a balanced budget for 2020-21.

“We value all of our employees,” said Wisdom-Martin. “Each one makes meaningful contributions, and we are seeking to be as gracious and generous as possible.”

The consideration period for those eligible for the voluntary retirement offer closes on September 21. At that time, WMU leaders “will determine how much of a deficit in the budget remains and how to proceed from there,” she said.

By Julie Walters
Julie Walters is corporate communication manager for national WMU.