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Cooperative Program reporting moved to cash flow budgeting

NASHVILLE (BP) – A different method of reporting gifts through the Cooperative Program has provided a clearer picture as to the state of giving, SBC Executive Committee staff say.

Dynamic – or cash flow – budgeting more closely mirrors giving patterns throughout the year as well as seasons where more is required of the budget, such as costs associated with the annual meeting.

“The change was made to better match the budget with the actual CP cash flow,” said Michael Bianchi, interim chief financial officer for the Executive Committee. “Straight line budgeting is unhelpful as it does not reflect the true state of income when compared to actual CP receipts.”

As an example, the history of Cooperative Program giving shows a higher rate of receipts received in January and February. That is reflective of a typical increase in giving in December that needs time to cycle through in reporting.

“Historically, January and February CP receipts are each 10 percent of total CP receipts for the year,” said Bianchi, who led in making the change. “Most other months are around 8 percent of total receipts for the year, but we carry that out to 4 decimal places so there are slight variations in the months.”

Straight line reporting, he added, would place January 2024 receipts at $2.4 million over budget “when by historical standards they are $857,000 under budget.”

The change was instituted at the start of this fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2023.

EC Interim President and CEO Jonathan Howe said just as household or church expenses (and income) vary throughout the year, the change is helpful in planning out the SBC calendar.

“It’s more effective for us to take these ebbs and flows into consideration,” he said. “If not well-planned, a straight-line budget can lead to a false sense of security or panic” whereas the new method brings “a better sense of reality when making important budgetary decisions.”