Final figures from the 2009 Cooperative Program giving report were as bleak as was anticipated through the year.
North Carolina Baptists for the fifth time in the past seven years gave less to their cooperative ministries than they did the year before. Following a 4.8 percent drop in 2008 — the first year of a two-year budget — Baptist State Convention (BSC) staff reduced the operating budget internally. Three people were laid off and six staff positions eliminated.
Gifts from churches fell short even of the reduced budget and were 5.4 percent below 2008 levels. Gifts were short of the actual 2009 budget approved in 2007 by 16.9 percent.
“We are not anticipating that kind of decrease for a third straight year,” said Milton _ÑŒA. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer. “In fact, we are encouraged by the receipts we have been receiving in early January.”
In the final report that will reflect multiple giving plans, gifts were down in every line. The only bright spot was an increase to international missions of 6.7 percent. Even that increase is misleading because 2008 gifts to international missions were down 15.6 percent because of the timing of some receipts.
Ultimately though, while 2009 designated gifts to international missions were $856,177 greater than in 2008, they were still $1.6 million less than in 2007.
Gifts to the North Carolina State Missions Offering were down 9.6 percent or $191,522, after meeting the $2 million goal the previous year. North Carolina Baptist Men is funded through the state missions offering, as are partnerships and part of church planting.
In 2009 churches affiliated with the BSC contributed $32,633,166 to their cooperative ministries. That compares to $34,485,968 in 2008 and $36,232,960 in 2007 — a 9.9 percent drop in two years.
Jan. 4 began a new budget year with a single giving plan. The 2010 budget is $34.8 million, a decrease of $4.8 million over the 2009 budget and the smallest since year 2000. Still, it is almost $2.2 million greater than 2009 receipts.
“It is no secret that there is a lot of competition for dollars that North Carolina Baptist churches choose to send beyond their local church ministries,” Hollifield said. “We can hope that all our efforts to encourage our churches to increase the missions dollars budgeted for CP in their 2010 budgets have been successful.”
Despite the shortfalls, Hollifield said “careful attention to the bottom line enabled the Convention to finish 2009 about $63,000 in the black, but those results have not been without sacrifice and pain.”
- Plan A gifts were down 2.5 percent to $21,784,103.
- Plan B gifts were down 11 percent to $2,515,913.
- Plan C gifts were down 26.9 percent to $1,215,922.
- Plan D gifts were down 3.8 percent to $5,791,497.
These four plans do not add up to the total given because they do not include giving to the plans with various exclusions made.
Designated gifts were down to national missions 4.7 percent to $5,782,791.
“It is uncertain what the return to a single giving plan with options is going to have on Cooperative Program giving,” Hollifield said. “However, what is clear is that churches want to cooperate. The vast majority of the calls and letters we’ve received regarding the 2010 budget have been encouraging and complimentary, both in the focus of our allocations and the presentation of the material.
“I believe North Carolina Baptists have a better understanding of how their missions dollars are being allocated than they have had in many years. We’ve simplified, focused, and communicated our mission and vision, and look forward to serving North Carolina Baptists in accomplishing God’s purpose and will in the coming year.”
CBF gifts up
Gifts to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC), a fellowship of churches which were once aligned solely with the Baptist State Convention, are up significantly. Most of the 282 churches that contributed undesignated funds to CBFNC and 58 others that have designated money in this fiscal year also contribute to the BSC.
However, 109 churches now contribute through the mission resource plan — CBF’s cooperative distribution plan — an increase from 75 the year before. It is likely churches that contribute through that plan significantly decrease or even eliminate contributions through the BSC Cooperative Program, but neither entity tracks that.
CBFNC Director Larry Hovis said that through the first three quarters of their April to March fiscal year undesignated giving through their mission resource plan is $915,840, a 15 percent increase over the same period the previous year.
Designated giving, most of which goes to the institutions already gone or being eliminated from the BSC budget, is up 25 percent to $1,540,292 through nine months.
Hovis said inquiries grew about the mission resource plan after messengers to the Baptist State Convention annual meeting voted in 2008 to eliminate multiple giving plans through the Cooperative Program.
When asked why CBF income is growing, Hovis said, “It is our desire to collaborate with the Baptists of North Carolina, including churches and institutions, to participate in positive, healthy ways in what God is doing in missions in North Carolina and worldwide. A broad coalition of partners and people respond to that kind of positive, missional engagement.”
The 2009 Southern Baptist Convention Annual reports that 77 North Carolina Baptist churches contributed $1,133,476 directly to the SBC, bypassing the Baptist State Convention. Those funds are not counted as Cooperative Program gifts.
The number of churches bypassing the BSC is down from 83 last year, but the dollar amount is consistent.