Giving trend shows “new normal” – lower

Published Feb 01, 2012

FRESNO – Cooperative Program giving by California Southern Baptist Convention churches during “this uncertain economic season” may have “closed in on a ‘new normal'” in 2011, according to the CSBC chief financial officer.

Steve Pearson, leader of the CSBC business services group, said unaudited Cooperative Program gifts from churches totaled $6.59 million, or just over 95 percent of the CP objective for 2011.

However, the 2011 figure is more than $318,000 below the $6.9 million received in 2010. Pearson said, “We definitely have found ourselves, like many others, in a declining environment, but are thankful the trend in decline wasn’t as bad as the past two years.

“I believe we may have closed in on a new normal for CP giving by churches during these challenging economic times,” Pearson added.

Over the past three years the Convention has registered a decline of $1.4 million in CP giving, from just shy of $8 million in 2008 to the 2011 figure of $6.59 million, he said.

Once again, churches met the challenge in December by giving $662,172, which exceeded the monthly objective by $85,505, or a total of 114.8 percent. In comparison to 2010, Pearson said the December figure trended as the overall CP objective did by falling short of 2010 gifts for the same time period by $45,964, or 6.5 percent.

He noted one of the brightest financial spots in 2011 was exceeding the California Mission Offering goal. Gifts to CMO, used specifically to reach the Golden State for Christ, totaled $395,908, exceeding the $350,000 goal by $45,908, or 13.1 percent.

“CSBC churches and their members are to be commended for sacrificial giving in 2011,” said Fermin A. Whittaker, CSBC executive director. “Our economy certainly has affected the income stream of many CSBC church members and congregations. I am thankful that our churches still value cooperation and commitment to evangelism and missions locally, statewide, nationally and internationally.”

The 2011 CMO figure is $60,157, or 17.9 percent, more than 2010 gifts of $335,751. Pearson noted the 2011 goal of $350,000 was $100,000 less than the 2010 goal.

“I’m excited about the increase in our California Mission Offering,” Whittaker declared. “I believe it shows a commitment on the part of CSBC churches to reach California communities for Christ.

“We truly are reaching the world in California because the nations of the world have come to our doorstep. California Southern Baptists are strategic in fulfilling the Great Commission as outlined in Acts 1:8, because we influence world evangelization as we reach those from other countries who make their home here and then have the opportunity to witness to family and friends.”

Gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions were up in 2011, totaling $688,548, an increase of $21,469 or 3.2 percent over 2010.

Gifts for international missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering fell below the 2010 mark. In 2011, gifts totaled almost $1.48 million, down $65,559, or 4.4 percent, from the 2010 total of $1,544,001.

Pearson noted all figures are unaudited and reflect CSBC gifts received from January 1 – December 31, 2011.

Pearson also said the new normal relates only to Cooperative Program giving. “We still have uncertainties related to North American Mission Board resources. We have not reached the new normal in that respect.”

He added that while the 2012 NAMB budget is in place, “the next five years will be challenging as we find what the new normal is in relation to jointly funded ministries.”