John Tangren and Anne Choate with a member of a cocoa farming co-op in the Philippines.

Our support of Lutheran World Relief is an imperative

  • Gary Fields
  • Sep 13, 2018

John Tangren and Anne Choate remember the moment they decided to become Lutheran World Relief donors.

It was in their first year as a married couple and they were looking for a way to support recovery efforts from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 225,000 people. The couple met at the University of Chicago eight years earlier, but college, law school and wedding expenses were finally behind them. Still in their 20s, they had reached the point where they needed to find other financial priorities.

After conducting their typically thorough research of the possibilities, John and Anne were attracted to the level of accountability and thoughtfulness that Lutheran World Relief brings to its projects. They found that Lutheran World Relief works to develop solutions for the individuals who need them rather than a cookie-cutter approach developed from afar. 

And they were also impressed by the lasting impact of our work.

“What we learned was how Lutheran World Relief employs cutting-edge thinking about not just dumping resources on a community, but how it might build lasting partnerships and give those in need the ability to develop their own strategies for growth,” Anne says.


Lutheran World Relief donors Joe Carlin, John Tangren and Anne Choate stand with beneficiaries from Barangay Zillanova, Talacogon after a town hall meeting.

Since 2004, the couple’s commitment to supporting Lutheran World Relief’s mission has only grown as they have become more familiar with individual projects and our strategic vision.

John is impressed with our approach to impact investing.

“Rather than provide a grant with no accountability or plans for future engagement, Lutheran World Relief engages with a community as an investor,” he says. “There is the hope that everyone involved will receive a return for the investment, and the beneficiaries become partners in a very real sense that dignifies those in need of assistance.  Everyone is working together to bring about ultimate success.”

Anne noted our innovation in forging partnerships with the for-profit sector as well, “Lutheran World Relief utilizes partnerships with business in a way that other aid organizations don’t. Most 501(c)(3)s partner with each other and receive grants from the government. But developing relationships with businesses is really unique and has not really been explored by others,” she says.

As John and Anne move into another year of involvement with us, they agree on one thing that has surprised them:  The “multiplier effects” from our projects that extend well beyond the original planned scope.

For example, one project designed to address child malnutrition by engaging moms in growing vegetables was extremely successful not only in improving nutrition, but also in improving children’s educational outcomes and the moms’ sense of pride in caring for the family in a new way. The mothers then shared what they were learning with neighboring communities, spreading the project’s benefits beyond the initial communities.

For John, support for Lutheran World Relief is an imperative.


God has blessed us with the means to provide assistance to those who have been less fortunate.  Where Lutheran World Relief excels is identifying opportunities on a global scale where our resources can have the most impact.


Anne also hopes to foster in others a commitment to help around the world.

“There’s so much need. With disasters that hit us here at home, at least our government gives support,” she says. “There are so many places in the world where the government isn’t doing that. If anybody ever has any questions for us, please talk to us. We’re happy to talk to everyone about Lutheran World Relief.”


Gary Fields, Sep 13, 2018 email