Thursday, October 13, 2016

The long, slow slog to a 50/50 Cooperative Program split

The money collected under our venerable Cooperative Program, now in its tenth decade, is divided into two parts: the first part is the money kept by the state conventions, the second part is forwarded to the SBC Executive Committee, most of which is divided among the mission boards and seminaries.

Of interest to those who pay attention is the "split"; how much stays in each state and how much gets to SBC seminaries and mission boards. A few data points on this:

  1. Historically, state conventions keep most of the money. There has never been a year that state conventions split the money equally or kept less than 50%. In nine decades of CP collections only twice (1949-50, 1950-51) have state conventions kept less than 60% 
  2.  The most recent data show that of every CP dollar, the state conventions kept 61.25% and the SBC received 38.75%. 
  3. In the past half century the percentage kept by state convention has ranged between 61.29 and 66.56.  
  4. Since the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report was adopted by the SBC in 2010 and called for a "return to the historic ideal of a 50/50 Cooperative Program distribution between the state conventions and the SBC", the state conventions have kept between 61.25% and 62.20% of CP dollars. 
  5. The most recent statistical year, 2014-2015 showed states reducing their percentage about a full point to 61.25%
  6. The Florida state convention made a drastic change that put their split at 49/51 making them the only legacy state forwarding a majority of CP dollars to SBC causes.
  7. Southern Baptists of Texas, the conservative state body in Texas, has been at 45/55 for a few years.
  8. Two smaller state conventions, Iowa and Nevada, are at 50/50.
For those who believe Southern Baptists are better served when the state conventions keep less money and forward more to the mission boards and seminaries, the call for a 50/50 split was a welcome one. Many of the states have responded with small steps in that direction. Some have responded with giant steps. 

Over 90% of CP revenue comes from 16 legacy, southern states. In these, except for Florida and the upstart state conventions in Texas and Virginia, progress towards 50/50 has been slow or non-existent.
  • My state, Georgia, is moving to a 58/42 split, a move made much easier as a result of a $25 million gift to the convention to retire the mortgage on the headquarters building. It is unclear how much progress will be made to move from 58/42 to 50/50.
  • The Alabama convention, which gives the largest amount in CP revenues to SBC causes, is at 55/45.
  • The Tennessee convention, third largest CP giver, is at about 57/43.
  • The Louisiana and Mississippi conventions have the least favorable splits among the legacy states (not counting the more moderate conventions in Texas and Virginia) at about 63/37.
I think the recent trend in state conventions relative to the CP split is healthy but I'm not optimistic that we will get anywhere near 50/50 in my lifetime. 

I would ask my colleagues what they feel is the ideal state/SBC split of CP dollars in your state.

1 comment:

Lee said...

The Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey splits 26% to SBC causes, and 74% stays at home, but you're looking at a state convention that takes in about $1 million in CP giving, and receives the lion's share of its budget--$1.5 million, from NAMB. If you just take the CP receipts from the churches, not counting the NAMB allocation, then its close to a 50-50 split.