Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Designated giving UP; Cooperative Program giving DOWN for 2013-2014

The SBC Executive Committee has closed the books on the fiscal year 2013-2014 and Baptist Press reports that "The Southern Baptist Convention ended its fiscal year 0.76% below last year's contributions and missed its Cooperative Program allocation budgeted projection of $191.5 million by 2.58%..."

Here are the relevant figures as compared to the last fiscal year. These are for monies received by the SBC Executive Committee for distribution to the SBC entities IMB, NAMB, the seminaries, ERLC, and EC itself. The figures, in millions of dollars, do not include total Cooperative Program gifts as received by all the state conventions.

                                                         2013-2014              2012-2013          Change
CP Allocation Budget Gifts            $186.6                    $188.0                 -0.75%

Designated Gifts                              $194.7                    $193.1                  0.81%

Designated gifts include Lottie Moon receipts, Annie Armstrong, World Hunger, and CP monies sent directly to the Executive Committee designated for the CP allocation budget.

A few observations:

1. Frank Page believes that CP giving may "have reached the nadir, or lowest point, for national Cooperative Program gifts." While I hope so, I don't know of anything that allows for such a conclusion.

2. We are not a bad off as others. I'm all for finding a positive spin for negative news. The CP is down but, Page says, "the Atlas of Giving forecasts that giving to religious organizations will decline by 2 percent year-to-year, so the fact that  our national CP giving was down by less than 1 percent and overall giving was slightly up shows we are bucking the trend." Another way to say this is that CP giving is down less that one might have predicted and designated giving is up, against the trends.

3. For the second consecutive year, the Executive Committee received more designated funds (almost all Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, and Global Hunger Relief) than undesignated money for the CP allocation budget. The proportion is now about 51% designated, 49% undesignated. I'm not sure why this particular statistic is not spoken of more often among Southern Baptists. At the SBC level we follow a societal giving system for most of our money.

4. We are dealing in fractions of percentage points here, but churches are showing a preference for funding the two mission boards directly, rather than the Cooperative Program.

5. Frank Page's one percent increase plan has some success, but not enough to move the needle.

6. As always, it's easy to be negative but one must not forget that the CP is a mammoth ministry funding plan and on the SBC level still divides over $186 million to our mission boards, the six seminaries, the ERLC, with a little kept by the Executive Committee.

The EC has cut back the budget to the goal of 2012-13, $188 million.

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