In December 2012, the Ministry Advisory Panel (MAP) of Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU) was asked how they plan to allocate their budget in 2013. After going through their five expense categories and 32 budget-line items, some important observations were made.
- Even though budget allocations vary every year, on average they remain more or less consistent across churches of varying sizes.
- All responding churches allocated the highest percentage of their annual budget to the category of personnel expense, 58% being the figure in this particular survey.
- While 9% respondents tried to cut down on programs because of reduced funds and other resource constraints, 3% increased their programs.
Even though economists expected 2013 to be the year of recovery, economic changes like dipping GDP and increasing unemployment claims, compelled the ministries to remain cautious about their expenditure in 2013. The data in this survey reveals that despite some churches reallocating their budget differently, certain expense items were left unattended. For instance, no money was allocated to expense items like contracts, grants, scholarships and debt retirement fund.
These findings were later compared to a 2009 survey conducted by Catholic Theological Institute. Upon combining both surveys, seven budget categories created. As one can see in the chart below, large-sized churches seem to be allocating lesser funds for missions support, as compared to medium and small-sized churches.
You will also notice a difference of 19% in personnel expenses between 2009 and 2013. Though the survey did not reveal a definite reason for this striking difference, economists speculate that it could be linked with the drastic measures adopted by different churches to reduce their expenses in 2009, including pay cuts, salary freezes and layoffs.