Annual report

A review of IFES ministry 2018-2019

A word from Daniel Bourdanné

Dear friends of IFES,

We all run the risk of becoming busy with activities but dry in our spiritual lives. One of our priorities must be to guard our own walk with the Lord. So I am particularly grateful for the work of our Scripture Engagement initiative. This global team is helping our movements and staff to integrate knowledge and love in their relationship with God’s Word, equipping us to be messengers of hope. 

I am thankful that many staff have made time this year for retreat and silence. This can be hard to do in such a fast-paced world, but such investment reminds us to have depth in our spiritual lives, to come to Jesus and drink. We cannot serve our students and our movements from a place of dryness.  My prayer for IFES is that we would continue to help one another to abide day by day in the Lord Jesus and in his Word. 

This past year has seen IFES take significant steps in our use of technology to remain connected and to support one another. We are a community spanning more than 170 countries and technology is providing ways for us to dialogue and collaborate where face-to-face communication is not always feasible. E-learning courses, for example, are enabling national movements to access training, resources and network opportunities at the touch of a button. We now have developed modules in Indigenous Support Development, Governance Development and Engaging the University, which are helping us to strengthen the ministry of our national movements further.

It has also been wonderful to see our support base grow around the world, particularly in Asia. For some time, IFES has been keen to invest more in developing partnerships with individuals and churches in that part of the world, and we praise God for the progress we have seen this year. We are very grateful for the financial contributions and prayer support from new partners across Asia, and indeed from all who support IFES ministry around the globe. We could not do what we do without you.

It is through partnership that IFES is able to live out our glorious vision of strengthening the national movements, developing godly student leaders, pioneering new campus groups, and reaching unreached students with the life-changing good news of Jesus Christ.

It has been an enormous privilege to witness this vision being lived out during my lifetime, and particularly over the last 12 years when I have had the privilege of leading the Fellowship. I believe the best is yet to come, as God continues to lead IFES into new ministry opportunities.

As you read the following stories, may you be greatly encouraged, as I am, to see just a snapshot of the way God is at work in and through the student movements of IFES.

Your brother in Christ,


Daniel Bourdanné
IFES General Secretary (2007-2019)

Vision and mission

Our vision is to see students built into communities of disciples, transformed by the gospel and impacting the university, the church and society for the glory of Christ.

World Assembly 2019

Looking back

For many, the highlight of World Assembly was the chance to hear how God has been at work in the university. We rejoiced as 13 movements affiliated to IFES, each with a story to tell of God’s faithfulness and provision through challenges and setbacks.

We also looked back and gave thanks for the faithful and fruitful ministry of Daniel Bourdanné, who served as IFES General Secretary 2007-2019.

“IFES students, graduates and staff who are bearers of this torch: Go! Take the message of hope to the universities all over the world.”

Gideon Para-Mallam, (World Assembly 2019)
At World Assembly, students and staff from around the world are inspired to courageously proclaim the message of hope, in word and deed, to our broken world. 

Looking ahead

World Assembly provided the space for the Fellowship to look ahead prayerfully. In light of the current spiritual climate around the world, we discussed strategic priorities and made decisions for the next chapter of IFES ministry. Meetings and mealtimes gave delegates the space to learn from one another. We shared ideas and considered together how ministry methods might be adapted or nuanced to more effectively reach the students of this generation and in different contexts.

At a time of transition, both in our world and in our organization, World Assembly was a reminder that our calling remains the same: to be messengers of hope in the university. During plenary sessions, we reflected on the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who met the risen Jesus and returned transformed to Jerusalem. Their story became ours, as we too met the risen Jesus in his word, and returned, transformed and equipped, to our 170 countries, as messengers of hope.

“I would like to take the transformational hope of Jesus to the individualistic, secular campuses across Canada. I would like to inspire my movement with courageous proclamation of the truth, with greater depth in prayer and with compassionate action for those in need.”

Hannah, Inter-Varsity Canada Student

Global Initiatives

Breaking New Ground

The IFES Breaking New Ground initiative aims to equip and resource national movements in pioneering. The goal is to see 100 new and lasting local student groups established by 2020 in unreached cities and campuses around the world. Since it was launched in May 2018, IFES has given 403 grants to support national movements in pioneering new groups in 60 countries around the world.

The program is enabling movements to travel to unreached campuses, host outreach events, train and disciple students, and produce Bible study materials. Throughout, we have seen these strategic seed grants catalyze the efforts of national movements, who needed only small investments to release great potential for growth.

It has been exciting to see movements collaborating in their efforts to pioneer new groups. For example, GBU Spain is currently supporting the start of a new IFES movement in Equatorial Guinea; and ABUA Argentina and GBUCH Chile are working together to reach campuses in southern Patagonia.

Hundreds of students and staff workers were mobilized to pioneer student groups in new places through Breaking New Ground. 

Praying together on IFES World Student Day

World Student Day is an annual day that unites our global movement to celebrate all that God is doing through IFES, and to pray for students around the world.

World Student Day 2018 saw people from 148 countries coming together to pray for God to do something new in this generation of students. At least 480 prayer meetings were organized, including several where student groups arranged an online meeting with groups in other countries. Joshua, an international medical student from Singapore, attended one such meeting:

“I was sitting in a room with students from Russia, Brazil, Taiwan, Colombia, Great Britain and Singapore. Each hour we skyped with a different group from another country: the Philippines, Nepal, Lithuania, Canada, Israel and Mongolia. We heard about the struggles of students around the world and the work going on in the harvest field. Prayers were flying in different languages across different time zones. It felt like a sneak preview of what heaven might be like.”

Building Local Partnerships

The Indigenous Support Development (ISD) program trains and equips national movements to develop sustainable funding through local partnerships. The ISD team is now working in 62 countries across seven regions. Seventeen regional champions assist with training and implementation, and this has helped regions take ownership of the program. National movements are increasingly requesting training and resources on how to invest in local partnership development. ISD modules are now available as an e-learning course, enabling even more movements to access the training and support.

It is wonderful to hear of the long-term impact of the ISD program. Alumni of GBU in the Democratic Republic of Congo managed to raise $6,000 in two months, enabling the general secretary to stay longer on staff. SLEFES Sierra Leone now has 15 alumni or volunteer staff, all sustained through local support. ISCCF St Vincent raised $1,000 within days of the training – more than the previous six months put together! GBUR Rwanda saw their annual income double, as they formed new partnerships with local alumni and churches.

Building Strong Foundations

The Governance Development program helps national boards deliver good governance practice in each movement. One of the movements that benefited from initial Governance Development training in 2019 was ESWAFES eSwatini. General Secretary Mukululi shared:

“The recent Board training has set us on a good trajectory, and we are trusting God for a great future. With the board being new, the training helped us clarify the role of the board in supporting, enabling and safeguarding the national movement.”

Over the last year, four other national movements undertook initial training and 17 received follow-up visits, altogether spanning ten of the IFES regions. A Governance Training e-learning module has now been developed, improving access to materials and providing more opportunities for interaction between national movements. Over 126 movements have now been trained, and as a result we have seen less internal conflict and staff turnover as well as increased capacity for outreach.  

A new Coaching Program has recently been launched. The aim of the program is to invest more intentionally and strategically in selected boards in order to inspire an ongoing and organic process of growth in good governance across IFES regions. The first coaching visits have already taken place in Uruguay, Gabon, Burundi and El Salvador, and were enthusiastically received.  

IFES Regional Teams and Global Ministry staff mentor and support national movement leaders to see their ministries thrive. 

Understanding Ministry Impact

The Ministry Impact program seeks to help IFES national movements understand the impact and effectiveness of their ministries in order to sustain and grow their work on campuses around the world.

Two initiatives were launched last year: the “Learning through Evaluation” e-learning course, and the Ministry Impact Evaluation tool. A total of 265 learners from 86 countries across 11 regions have participated in the course so far, and 75 movements have been helped by the evaluation tool.

“It’s a tool that will help you, in grace, to look at where you are, celebrate the good things and then also see how you can grow from where you are. It will really benefit your national movement.”

Flemlyn Ragobeer, General Secretary of IS/IVCF Guyana.

The data gathered through the Ministry Impact program is improving our ability to track key indicators such as student engagement, evangelistic activity, revenue and expense, staff turnover, and staff care. As we analyze these indicators over time, we will be able to more carefully assess the needs across our Fellowship and specific areas of ministry, helping us make more informed decisions.

Investing in Global Leaders

The Global Leadership Initiative is an 18-month program providing development opportunities for young IFES leaders. Its long-term aim is to build up a pool of leaders within IFES who are fully equipped for regional and global appointments, effective in leading multi-cultural teams and committed to collaborating across our international community.

One participant shared her reflections on the program:

“This was not just an abstract learning experience, but a very hands-on approach to understanding how to be better leaders in our Christian communities. I really enjoyed working with a very diverse group of people, observing different contexts and cultures in which Christians live, and seeing how movements have adapted to those different contexts.”

We have already seen participants from the first cohort step up to new international responsibilities. Several are now involved in supporting and training movements within their region; others are involved in planning and coordinating large international events like World Assembly and the European Student Evangelism Conference Revive 2019.

The second cohort of 21 participants, representing each of the 11 IFES regions, is now underway.

Financial Summary

To carry out the vision of IFES, we continue to invest in IFES Regional Teams and Global Ministry Programs that strengthen and serve student ministry across the globe. We are helping national movements expand student ministry to new cities and universities, interact more deeply with scripture, increase local financial support, improve governance practices, and make better informed decisions for impactful ministry. IFES administrative services continue to provide quality support for our strategic programs at the global and regional levels and help many of our 170 national movements increase in overall efficiency and effectiveness. A significant portion of IFES program income comes in at the end of our fiscal year and is set aside for the following year’s projects.

This Financial Report reflects our combined operations based on a consolidation of the audited financial statements for IFES UK and IFES USA, and the independently examined financial statements for IFES Switzerland. The Ministry Expenditure analysis presented here is categorized with our international audience in mind. The financial statements of each of the three IFES entities based in the UK, USA and Switzerland are available upon request.

IFES/USA is an accredited member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and a Valued Partner with GuideStar Exchange. In the UK, IFES is registered with the Fundraising Regulator.

Further reports

Your Partnership

With your partnership, we are able to reach more students together than we could if we were alone. Imagine a world in which every university student had the chance to hear the gospel. Because of IFES partners like you, we are closer to this shared vision.

God is already at work in the universities of the world, and he invites us all to be a part of his work. Thank you for joining us in the vision to reach more students with the gospel.

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