Building an annual budget for the denomination in the midst of economic challenges requires both careful analysis and faith that gifts and other income will offset expenses. When planning for 2010, it was important for the Church of the Brethren staff to be realistic about the impact the economy would have, but to count on faithful donors as well.
The 2010 budget for the Church of the Brethren’s Core Ministries, the fund whose many ministries are funded primarily by donations, included a planned deficit of $380,930 to be covered by net assets. Staff planned for this deficit spending to allow for stability during an uncertain economic climate. However, the 2010 deficit has been smaller than expected–$327,750, according to pre-audit results.
Overall income for Core Ministries was short of budget in 2010. Individual giving had the largest shortfall at $221,200 under budget. Income from investments fell somewhat below budget by $44,290, despite improvement in investment performance. However, congregational giving exceeded budget and totaled $2,602,590. This is a generous amount, given that congregations also struggle with finances.
Gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund reached $2,082,210–more than $1 million higher than 2009–because of giving directed to the earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010. The Global Food Crisis Fund received $182,290, about $100,000 less than the year before.
Five self-funding ministries of the denomination receive income from the sale of goods and services: the Annual Conference fund, Brethren Press, Material Resources, “Messenger” magazine, and the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center.
Brethren Press ended the year ahead of budget, with income over expense of $4,250; a continuing challenge is overcoming its accumulated deficit.
The Material Resources program that warehouses and ships relief materials from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., ended the year with a net loss of $24,690.
The New Windsor Conference Center was especially affected by the economy. A 30 percent shortfall in budgeted income resulted in a loss of $244,500, doubling prior years’ accumulated deficits. Options for the conference center are being reviewed because sales are substantially lower and accumulated deficits have reached an unsustainable level.
“Messenger” finished the year with a positive $34,560, largely because of transition in staffing.
The Annual Conference fund was able to significantly reduce a deficit that had developed from the 2009 Conference held in San Diego, Calif. The Conference Office received 9 percent more income than budgeted, saved on expenses, and received a large special gift to end the year with income over expense of $254,570. While the Conference Office made progress financially in 2010, it faces several upcoming Annual Conference sites where attendance likely will be smaller, making it difficult to cover expenses.
The above amounts were provided prior to completion of the 2010 audit. Complete financial information will be made available in the Church of the Brethren, Inc., audit report, to be published in June.
— Judy E. Keyser is associate general secretary of operations and treasurer for the Church of the Brethren.
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