by Dr. David Hankins
Cooperative Program Advance Plan
The goal of the Cooperative Program Advance Plan is to aid Baptist state conventions in forwarding to the Southern Baptist Convention an increasing percentage of the total Cooperative Program gifts received from the churches.
Although the original idea of Cooperative Program allocation was to divide the proceeds from the churches 50/50 between the Southern Baptist Convention and the states, that goal has never been attained. Some state conventions have reached it from time to time before readjusting. The aggregate division of Cooperative Program between the states and the Southern Baptist Convention is approximately 64/36. The aggregate percentage forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention has been in the range of 35% to 39% for the last twenty years. Currently, three of the 41 state conventions send at least 50% of the Cooperative Program receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention (one after deducting shared, or preferred, items).
It is the consensus of the study committee that there ought to be a concerted effort by Southern Baptists, as they grow the Cooperative Program, to forward an increasing percentage of the receipts to the ministries of the national convention. There are several factors that motivate such an effort. One is an attempt to maintain the original 50/50 concept of the Cooperative Program. Another is to achieve a proper equity between the states and the SBC. Still another is the recognition that many of the ministries of the national convention serve all of the state conventions (e.g., seminary education, cooperative agreements with the NAMB, GuideStone ministries).
However, the primary motivation is the challenge of extending the Kingdom of God. The sheer magnitude of the needs of the whole world demands that Southern Baptists continue to look outward. We must aggressively expend our energies and deploy our resources in the vast regions of the world where the work of the Gospel is not as well founded as it is in the southern part of the United States, the traditional stronghold of Southern Baptists. As we challenge individual Southern Baptists to give larger percentages of their incomes to the Lord’s work instead of spending it on self, and as we challenge congregations to give larger percentages of their receipts outside the local church field, we must also commit to sending an increasing percentage to the farthest places. Without minimizing at all the necessity of maintaining and strengthening our home-base, the increasing allocation of Cooperative Program resources to national and international endeavors honors the mandate to take the good news to the ends of the earth.
How does the Advance Plan work?
There have been emphases and efforts in the past which intended to grow the percentage of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention, usually involving an incremental increase of the percentage over a period of several years until the target goal was reached. The Advance Plan does not suggest an annual incremental increase or a certain numbers of years to complete. It is built on the concept of a fifty-fifty division of the future, cumulative dollar increases in Cooperative Program contributions.
The primary key for making the plan work is a commitment by state conventions to allocating 50% of all new CP income to the Southern Baptist Convention. This means the states would pledge to add to their state convention budget no more than fifty per cent of their increased Cooperative Program income in the future.
Two practical factors are critical to make the plan succeed: a growing Cooperative Program income and a conservative budgeting policy. A growing Cooperative Program income is critical because the Advance Plan begins with the status quo. It does not recommend the states reduce current state convention ministry budgets in favor of the SBC. It does not call for states to commit to giving new amounts to the SBC that the state does not first receive from the churches. It envisions the increase to SBC coming from new money. It is apparent that this plan is dependent on the success of other recommendations in this report regarding improved stewardship on the part of Southern Baptists and growing CP percentages from the churches.
A conservative budgeting policy is critical because the Advance Plan begins with the allocation of Cooperative Program receipts in excess of budget. It will not work if Cooperative Program allocation budgets are not regularly exceeded. Therefore, it will be necessary for a state convention to adopt Cooperative Program goals it is likely to reach.
The suggestion is to set each new annual budget total at a goal equal to the income of the previous year. As incomes increase, the budgets will increase but the budget goal will lag behind the actual income. The net result is that, with even the smallest income growth, there will be a budget surplus. It is that budget surplus that triggers the Advance Plan. This conservative budgeting policy is already used by the Southern Baptist Convention and some state conventions.
Someone may ask, how do you have your convention vote a budget if you do not know the total income yet? You must use a previous reporting period. The SBC uses the total income of the last fiscal year of record. A state convention may want to use the total income of some agreed upon 12-month period. For example, your convention could decide the total CP receipts from July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006 will be the amount set at the 2006 state convention for the 2007 budget. It could be September 1 through August 31, or any chosen 12-month period that works with the state convention’s budget adoption process.
Implementing the plan:
Step One: Adopt a Cooperative Program Budget at the annual meeting that is not more than the total income of the selected previous 12-month period (e.g., September 1 to August 31) and set the initial percentage division between the SBC and the state.
Step Two: Beginning in January, distribute to the SBC according to the set percentage.
Step Three: In the fall, adopt your next budget based on the total income of the designated 12-month period. Since you did not distribute any overages 50/50 the previous year, the percentage split remains the same.
Step Four: In December (or once the budget is met) distribute 50% of all remaining income that year through December 31 to the SBC.
Step Five: As you prepare the next budget, again compute the actual amount received in the designated 12-month period. That will be the total goal for the next year. Then, calculate the actual percent sent to the SBC in that 12 month period, including the 50% of excess. That will be the new percentage of division for the new the budget.
Adjusting the Cooperative Program Percentage Division:
This is the kicker. If you do not recalculate the actual percentage division and make it the new percentage division for the following year, you will only forward 50% of new money the first time it is received. In subsequent years, it will revert back to the state convention and your division will remain static. By adopting the recalculated percentage for the following year, the “50% of new money” accumulates and continues to go the SBC. Also, the percentage division to the SBC, obviously, continues to increase. It will take two budget cycles for the percentage division to the Southern Baptist Convention to start to grow.
Let’s assume your state divides CP 60/40 and you set a 2007 budget of $10 million based on the previous 12-month period’s receipts. You anticipate keeping $6 million and forwarding $4 million to the SBC. However, you actually receive $11 million in 2007. What happens? Of the last million over the budget, you keep $500,000 and forward $500,000, a 50/50 split.
In preparation for the next budget cycle, you total the amount received from September 2007 through August 2008 and discover you received $11 million in that pre-designated period. That will be the budget cap for 2009.
And, even though you distributed 60/40 for most of the receipts, the 50/50 split of the $1 million budget excess made the actual division $6.5 million and $4.5 million or 59/41. So, your new percentage split for the new 2009 budget is 59/41.
The Cooperative Program Advance Plan hinges on a 50/50 split of increases in Cooperative Program receipts. When these increases are used to recalculate the percentage division forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention, the results will be a continual shift of percentage to the SBC. Each year the Cooperative Program income grows, it will increase the actual percentage forwarded to the SBC. As this increased percentage is applied to the next budget, it moves the percentage division toward 50/50. If there is no growth in income, the percentage remains static. However, the faster the income grows, the faster the percentage will grow. The dream of the founders of the Cooperative Program can be realized—a shared missions process that aggressively propels the Gospel to the ends of the earth.