Financial projections from now through the end of 2020 are showing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is likely to experience a budget shortfall related to the COVID-19 pandemic of around $9.1 million by the end of the year, if current giving patterns continue.
Those projections include likely shortfalls in per capita giving of about $3.1 million, and in giving to the Presbyterian Mission Agency of about $3.7 million.
And other shortfalls are expected as well, including in income at Stony Point Center outside New York (which has already laid off most of its staff).
From March through July this year, per capita collections were down 22% or $1.16 million over the same period in 2019, with $4.1 million collected during those months this year compared to $5.3 million in 2019.
During those same months – as the pandemic was hammering the United States – giving to the Presbyterian Mission Agency was down 30% or $4.1 million compared to last year, with $9.8 million donated from March through July this year compared to $14 million in 2019, a decline in giving of $4.1 million.
If those trends continue, the projection is that revenue will total about $62.4 million for the year, about $9.1 million less than the $71.5 million budgeted for 2020, according to a report that Denise Hampton, the PC(USA)’s controller, presented Aug. 21 to the board of the PC(USA), A Corporation, the denomination’s corporate entity.
Overall, giving is projected to be about 25% less in 2020 than in 2019, Hampton said.
These are projections – and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding.
“Things change so quickly,” Hampton said. “Next month, we might look at this and be in a different place.”
Per capita giving fluctuates through the year – “it’s not predictable at all,” said Kathy Lueckert, the A Corporation president. And the Presbyterian Mission Agency is reporting that while the number of gifts Presbyterians are making is up, “the amount of gifts is smaller” – the dollar value is down.
During the previous day’s meeting, board had members heard other budget reports and discussed the importance of communicating the denomination’s budget realities to congregations and mid councils. “My deep suspicion is that presbyteries have money they have not yet turned loose of,” said board member Cynthia Campbell.
Among the ideas that Lueckert said she expects to be discussed next week during a meeting of the COVID-19 Financial Team with top PC(USA) leaders: the possibility of some kind of denominational fundraising campaign.
Ongoing work. Lueckert also discussed ongoing work of the A Corporation – which includes a number of places where the pandemic is having an impact. In discussing improvements to the PC(USA)’s policy on children, youth and vulnerable adults, for example, board member JoAnne Sharp raised a question about whether that policy applies to Zoom or online meetings. “It does not cover individual congregations, which is a weakness,” said board member Sam Bonner – leading the board to ask attorney Mike Kirk to do some research on that and report back to the board’s next meeting Oct. 15-16.
Lueckert reported that the board’s Global Language Resources division is expected to be at full staff by the end of September, provided translation services at the General Assembly in June, and is exploring the use of computer-assisted translation technology. A continuing challenge, she said: “Determining what content is to be translated,” and how that decision gets made, considering limited resources.
Blackbaud ransomware breach. Another point of discussion: a security breach this summer involving Blackbaud, which provides cloud-based services used in the nonprofit sector, including by the PC(USA) and the Presbyterian Foundation in donor management efforts. Lueckert said Blackbaud reported a ransomware breach earlier this year, telling Presbyterian officials it had paid the ransom and that any stolen data had been destroyed.
Lueckert said the Presbyterian Mission Agency has notified donors of the incident, telling them “we don’t think there was any breach of personal information.”
But Bonner said that while Blackbaud contended that it paid off the hackers and offered reassurances, once the hackers have the information “they can do whatever they want with it.” He recommended that Lueckert discuss the incident with the A Corporation’s outside auditors, as an effort to underscore, as Lueckert put it, that “we’ve done all our due diligence,” even though Blackbaud has not been more forthcoming about what happened.
Bridget-Anne Hampden, the Foundation’s representative on the A Corporation board, said “we were very concerned about the Blackbaud breach” and “it’s still very disturbing to me. The lack of clarity is something that troubles me as much as anything else.”
Updates. Board members who serve as representatives of particular agencies or entities presented updates on their work. Some of the highlights:
- Campbell reported that the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation is actually ahead of budget – with strong book sales, low travel costs and investments performing well. “Go figure,” she said. During the pandemic, Presbyterian Publishing has been providing resources to congregations and families, and publishing and curating resources on racial justice, Campbell said. What’s been more difficult: sales of hymnals are down, with so many churches meeting virtually, and “curriculum is very much up in the air,” as congregations try to determine what kind of programming to offer as the pandemic drags on.
- The Investment and Loan Program received a Paycheck Protection Program loan of nearly $300,000, said board member Tom McNeill. And it’s been reaching out to Presbyterian congregation and camps that have loans through the program – opening conversations about making adjustments to the loan payment schedule if those entities are experiencing financial difficulties. McNeill said about 80 entities (about 16% of the borrowers) made a payment adjustment because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and about 11 have made a request for a second adjustment. The Investment and Loan Program is trying to let church and camp borrowers know that, in these difficult times, “we are in it with them,” McNeill said.