By Baptist Press Staff
NASHVILLE (BP) — The Southern Baptist Convention ended its fiscal year 0.76 percent below last year’s contributions and missed its Cooperative Program allocation budgeted projection of $191.5 million by 2.58 percent, according to SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page.
The SBC received $186,567,610.63 in Cooperative Program Allocation Budget gifts during the fiscal year Oct. 1, 2013–Sept. 30, 2014, or $1,433,665.07 less than the $188,001,275.70 received during the last fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013.
“We have been monitoring CP gifts closely since the Great Recession and believe we may have reached the nadir, or lowest point, for national Cooperative Program gifts,” Page said. “Individual giving to churches continues to lag behind other sectors of charitable giving in the United States, but we remain prayerfully optimistic that through a combination of the ‘1% CP challenge’ and a renewed commitment of individual giving through churches, we will see an uptick in CP funding for our missions and ministries over the next several years.
In designated giving, the fiscal year’s total of $194,678,166.09 is 0.81 percent above the previous year’s $193,106,285.82. Of this amount, $193,926,534.53 was received and disbursed to IMB and NAMB through the seasonal missions offerings and Global Hunger Relief (the former World Hunger Fund). The balance was designated for other SBC entities or the SBC Operating Budget. Combined designated gifts to SBC causes and CP Allocation Budget gifts showed a slight 0.04 percent increase over the same time last year.
“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 actually slightly up shows we are bucking the trend,” Page said. “The ‘1% CP Challenge’ coupled with focused prayer may have made all the difference for Southern Baptists over the past few years.”
The CP is Southern Baptists’ channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC with a single monthly or weekly contribution. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the 2013–14 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
The convention-adopted budget was distributed as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“The budget projection of $188 million that began this week is a realistic goal — a 0.76 percent increase over this past year’s actual receipts,” Page said. “It will take confidence in our ministries and personal sacrifice to reach and surpass our 2014–2015 budget goal for impacting our world and our nation with the Gospel. I ask you to join me in asking the Lord to let it be so.”
The budget outlook comes at a time when the SBC continues to encourage Cooperative Program giving from local churches through the “1% CP Challenge.” Page has challenged Southern Baptist churches to increase their CP contributions by 1 percentage point of their annual church budgets. If every cooperating Southern Baptist church would accept the 1% CP Challenge, Page said, “it would generate millions of dollars for the Convention’s aggressive international missions outreach, its intentional church planting and evangelism strategies, and its programs for ministerial preparation,” in addition to numerous state and other national ministry initiatives.