Finances for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continue to look challenging — with expenses being held in check for now, but with the possibility that revenues at year’s end may drop below projections and fall short of what fundraisers had hoped to raise.
As of July 31, undesignated giving to the denomination was lower than had been expected, but spending also was lower than projected, Earline Williams, the denomination’s new chief financial officer, reported to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board at its meeting Sept. 25-27. Through the rest of this year, Williams will be tracking that funding gap — and working to prepare a new budget for 2015-2016, which will come to the board for its consideration at its next meeting, Feb. 5-7.
That new budget will focus on ministries with high measurable impact and which align with the PC(USA)’s mission work plan, Williams said, adding that “you’ll see some realignment.” She said the denomination needs to figure out what it does best, and what Presbyterians are willing to financially support. Williams asked for prayer — for herself, for the staff and for board members as they prepare to make difficult budget decisions in the coming months.
The board also heard from Terri Bate, who directs the denomination’s funds development ministry, about its effort to raise money, including fundraising with major donors.
Fundraising for world mission — money the PC(USA) uses to send and support mission-coworkers in service around the globe — is lagging significantly behind projections. Here’s how the numbers look:
- The annual goal for world mission fundraising in 2013 is $8.2 million. As of July 31, only 41 percent of that — $3.4 million — had been raised.
- Of the money contributed so far this year, $2.4 million came from congregations and just over $971,000 from individual donors. Congregational giving has actually increased in 2013 — with churches already giving $241,000 more through July 2013 than congregations gave at that same point in 2012.
- Gifts from individuals in 2013 are significantly below what individual donors contributed in 2012. A key reason is that 2012 brought two major gifts totaling $1.5 million (one of $1 million and the other of $500,000), and no similar donations have been made so far this year. The funds development staff has been short-handed this year, although two staff vacancies are in the process of being filled. And most major gifts tend to arrive at the tail-end of the year — traditionally, with major gifts being tendered in November and December, Bate said.
- What the year-end figures will be for 2013 remains to be seen. “I’m not exactly sure what will happen,” Bate said. Her staff is working closely with presbyteries to share what she called “high-impact stories” of the difference that Presbyterian gifts can make in life-changing ministry.
The board also heard of a new effort by the Special Offerings staff to provide an alternative giving catalog for 2013. That catalog will allow Presbyterians and others to purchase alternative gifts for holidays, birthdays and special occasions — such as bags of seed for gardens, shares in a community well, and support for the Young Adult Volunteer program. Catalogs will be available online starting in October through the denomination’s website and printed copies can be ordered through the denomination’s website as well.