SBC Life Articles

The SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget Process

The Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program Allocation Budget (CPAB) is the budgetary mechanism that funds the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, the six SBC seminaries, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the SBC Executive Committee and Operating Budget, and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.

The SBC CPAB is totally dependent on the support of two sets of Baptist bodies.

Local Baptist Churches

Members of cooperating Baptist churches that believe in and support the missions and ministry causes of the Southern Baptist Convention adopt their churches’ budgets to include giving a percentage of their churches’ contributions through the Cooperative Program.

These cooperating churches make up the primary and most important piece of the CP equation. Members give of their tithes and offerings and churches adopt a percentage of their annual budgets for the missions and ministries of their respective state Baptist convention and the SBC. These funds trickle downward from the headquarters of Baptist life (the local church) to the collaborative ministries mutually supported by thousands of other Baptist churches.

Cooperating State Baptist Conventions

Messengers to the various state Baptist conventions determine what percentage of the state convention’s Cooperative Program gifts are forwarded to the missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Neither the state conventions nor the SBC (or any of its ministry entities) solicit direct contributions from local churches; rather the conventions and their entities promote what has been historically called “the whole Cooperative Program” (see the SBC messenger-adopted Business and Financial Plan, Articles V and VI.D.).

The “Whole” Cooperative Program

When the Cooperative Program was established in 1925, it was forged as a threefold cord of cooperation: (1) local churches, in cooperation with (2) their respective state Baptist conventions, promote the missions and ministries of their respective states and (3) the SBC. Though there have been occasional challenges with this cooperative method, this threefold cord has withstood the test of time and helped create Southern Baptists’ vibrant set of missions and ministries throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century.

The National CP Budget Process

How, then, does the Executive Committee develop the SBC CP Allocation Budget it presents to SBC messengers each year?

First, the Executive Committee reviews key charitable giving surveys produced by a variety of researchers as well as the budgets adopted by the state Baptist conventions at their annual meetings each fall. The EC analyzes three key elements of the state convention budgets: (1) the state convention percentage split of CP gifts with the SBC for the fiscal year; (2) whether the state has shared ministry items (items which benefit both the state convention and the national convention and are not part of the CP apportionment to either the state or the SBC); and (3) the state’s projected total CP budget amount.

From these figures, the EC performs a predictive analysis of the portion of church gifts that will be channeled through the state conventions for distribution to the missions and ministries of the SBC. Drawing from historical data, the calculation includes a statistical margin of error (see the accompanying chart for the fall 2015 state convention analysis).

Second, the Executive Committee does a historical review of other revenue sources that fold into the CP Allocation Budget—direct gifts from churches, direct gifts from individuals, a rolling average of estate gifts left to the SBC, and other related gifts. Based on that review, the EC projects an estimated amount of other income it anticipates it may receive in the year to come.

Third, the Executive Committee invites each SBC entity to make a presentation to its Cooperative Program Committee at the February EC meeting. The entity leaders report ministry accomplishments, ministry plans, and financial data, as well as proposed ministry goals and strategies for the following fiscal year.

Fourth, in order to provide predictability to our entities, the EC proposes a fiscally conservative budget projection of CP gifts. To that end, the EC voted in 1989 to limit its projected annual CP Allocation Budget to the amount received in the most recently completed fiscal year.

Fifth, in anticipation of overages in national CP gifts to the CP Allocation Budget, based on the calculations outlined above, the EC has historically recommended, as part of its budget proposal, that any overage be distributed according to the same percentage as the base allocation budget. Since 2011, the EC has modified that proposal, requesting that the IMB receive a slightly larger share and the EC a slightly smaller share of any overage.


Cooperative Program

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    About the Author

  • Roger S. Oldham