Rising giving helps SBC
agencies, but challenges remain
___By Mark Wingfield
___NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Funding for Southern Baptist Convention ministries through the Cooperative Program unified budget continues to set records, but specific fund-raising campaigns at SBC agencies and institutions are meeting with mixed results.
___Gifts to the national Cooperative Program this fiscal year should exceed budget by about $12 million, Morris Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said Sept. 20. This would be the sixth consecutive year for record giving.
___Final figures will be released after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, but Chapman told Executive Committee members enough overage already has been received to ensure the SBC will distribute its remaining $3.5 million in capital needs allocations to agencies.
___A budgeting change was enacted this year that will cease the practice of providing agencies funds for building projects through a capital needs budget drawn from Cooperative Program overages. Once the current capital needs allocations are fulfilled, any overage in Cooperative Program giving will be divided among all SBC agencies according to the same formula used to distribute the normal budget.
___This increase in funding must continue and accelerate, said Jerry Rankin, president of the SBC's International Mission Board. Rankin said his agency is appointing record numbers of missionaries and anticipates increasing numbers of applicants in the years ahead.
___The increasing number of missionary appointments also presents another financial dilemma for IMB leaders. The Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, Md.--where most missionary appointees go for intensive training before shipping out to their fields of service--needs to be doubled in size, Rankin said.
___IMB leaders asked the Executive Committee for permission to embark on a $23 million fund-raising campaign for this purpose. According to documents filed with the Executive Committee, the IMB intends to spend less than $100,000 to raise the $23 million.
___That could be a challenge, if the recent experience of other SBC agencies and institutions is any indicator.
___Among reports on special fund-raising activities filed with the Executive Committee during the same meeting, only Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth showed evidence of a high return on money spent in fund raising. As of July 31, Southwestern reported raising $13.43 million toward its $100 million goal in the "Touch the World ... Impact Eternity" campaign. This was accomplished at a cost of $3.26 million, the report said. The campaign has completed its third of 10 years.
___A recently ended campaign by LifeWay Christian Resources to fund improvements at Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers was less successful, however. The $20 million "Renewing the Place of Renewal" campaign raised only $3.49 million, according to the Executive Committee report. This was done at an expense of $1.11 million.
___At the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, $139,201 has been raised toward a $250,000 goal to provide support for the agency's new daily radio program. However, the report to the Executive Committee notes the agency has expended $96,285 to raise the $139,201.
___At Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, $90,189 was spent in the past 17 months to raise $26,325, according to documents filed with the Executive Committee. This was part of the seminary's "First Step Toward Tomorrow" capital campaign, with a goal of $12 million.
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