New Annual CRCNA Budget Process

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The new CRCNA budget process announced in the Banner of November 2013 is slated to go into effect for the 2014/2015 budget year. Simplistically, the design includes a 10% removal of funding from all of the ministries (shares) to create a new "Strategic Response Fund" of about $1,000,000 to spend at the Synod (meaning BOT) discretion.  I trust this proposal will be declined by synod. (I wonder how World renew will be treated in this situation — no effect I hope because donors would never allow it!)

The fancy words used to promote this proposal are of course "strategic budgeting" and "we're not cutting the agency budgets".

Would it not have been easier for the BOT to announce a 10% cut in all the Ministry Share allocations and create a new line called "Strategic Response Fund" with a designated share amount? That way Synod members could see what was going on more directly. Calvin College took a seismic hit to their budget (due to past less than stellar management of their finances) and this new change would just add another special burden for them. Why not take out the Calvin College Ministry shares out all together and create the "Strategic Response Fund" from that source? Calvin could then be spun off from the CRCNA and become independent. It would even be worth something if it could be sold. That would then create a "Strategic Response Fund" of some magnitude with no pain to the remaining CRCNA ministries.

Should this proposal pass Synod the unintended consequence could be that many churches could create their own Strategic Response Fund. I would certainly recommend this to my local Council. In our church's case we could reduce our Ministry Share Budget from 75% to 50%. We would not even have to create a fund because we have enough ministry items on the go that would really benefit from immediate funding. No more overhead costs either.

I wrote in this space recently of how the 2012-2013 budget of the Faith Alive Ministry was handled to move a great deal of funding to oversight of the BOT. Is this another one of those instances?

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I will add here what I wrote about the budget changes at Faith Alive:

At synod 2013 some significant changes were announced regarding Faith Alive.  A week or so ago we received in the mail an 88 page catalog for products offered by Faith Alive. I thought this ministry was eliminated but obviously not. I went back to the acts of synod to find the financial info on this ministry. In 2011/2012 the actual loss of this ministry was about 1.5 million on an income of five million. Low and behold the budget for 2012/2013 was  balanced on a budget income of about 6.5 million. And the budget for 2013/2014 was about 6.6 million. The only major change was was that the FTE budget was down by 4 people!

The implicit message here is spend more with less people. Somehow this ministry (including Faith formation - not sure what that all entails) received an extra 1.5 million in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. I wonder how many World Missions missionaries this could have funded?

The Faith Alive catalog has an introduction "dear faith alive customer". But has no ending with "yours truly" and a name. Who is responsible for this ministry? Where does it report? Who is in charge of "faith formation" if that is in fact a ministry and does it have any employees?

Synod should have an interesting discussion on this in June.

Admin

I can't speak to how/when the changes get reflected in financial statements, but I can speak to why your church received a catalog. I believe the plan all along has been to continue making resources available to churches under the name/imprint of Faith Alive Christian Resources. See the first sentence of this Banner article (published a year ago, before Synod 2013's decision).

In reading the Agenda for Synod 2014, I noted the highlighted point below: 

"A large part of the Board of Trustees’ work relates to the ministry programs, personnel, and finances of the denomination. The program and personnel details are reported to synod by way of the reports of the agencies and this section of the BOT’s report in this agenda. Additional information regarding financial matters is contained in Appendix H to this Board of Trustees Report as well as in the Agenda for Synod 2014—Financial and Business Supplement that is distributed at synod. The final budget and the ministry share request will be presented to synod by way of synod’s finance advisory committee.” Agenda for Synod 2014 – Board of Trustees Report, page 33

QUESTIONS: 

1. By not publishing the proposed budget and ministry share request in the Agenda of Synod, is BOT/Synod forgoing it’s fiduicary and due diligence obligations to the local church of the business to be dealt with at the CRCNA AGM?

2. By not including the proposed budget in the Agenda of Synod are legislated notice requirements for not-for-profit non-government organizations being overlooked?