A modest proposal for calculating MaM contribution

I am firstly going to tell you why a funding purely on membership and one purely on income fail.

The simple reason is that people are canny, to use a good northern word. They won’t do anything illegal but if funding depends on either of these they will do their best to reduce the amount they pay by minimizing the funds for this. The way not to have members is to de-stress membership and to rarely ask if people want to become members. The way to shrink income is to put money into trusts for the congregation rather than directly into the congregation funds.

What at present you get in the URC is a swapping between these two methods of calculating Mission and Ministry contributions. I am going therefore to make a sugggestion that is more complex and harder to therefore fix.

The contribution should be worked out as follows

.5*ministry received+ A*(members + (adherents&children)/B)+C*(income)+D*(Financial Reserves)

Let me take each term on its own

Ministry component
No congregation should pay less than half of the ministry it receives in a give year. That is why the first amount is actually calculated from the ministerial stipend. Members get to understand that MaM is tied to the Ministry they receive. There probably needs to be a cost for non-stipendiary ministry put in as well to cover insurance and such.

Membership component.
A is a set amount worked out on the number of members and the number of children and adherents reported. Adherents is the posh name for those who regularly come to church but aren’t members. B will be greater than 1 but less than 5, and weights the fact that there are genuinely less committed members.

Financial component
I have split this into two, income generated in the year. Is the money that goes through the accounts of the congregation as their income. This must include, free will offering, money raised from hire of premises, fundraising and other donation. It may exclude grants from external bodies that are ear marked  specific purposes.

Also I have suggested that reserves which means trust funds and other savings under the control of the congregation should be rated separately. There are congregations with huge reserves and there are congregation with no reserves. Reserves in my opinion actually are a hindrance to mission as they make a congregation feel secure where it is. However I do not think this can be taken at the same rate as the actual income. So I suggest that it is rated at a level no higher than the interest it would get in a normal savings account.

Penalties for not supplying information on time

  1. If a congregation fails to  provide its financial year end, then it will be allocated a sum of twice the (median church income per member)*(no of members)
  2. If a congregation fails to provide membership numbers its membership will be taken from last recorded figures but calculated as membership+adherents +10% for each year since last reporting
  3. If neither figure is returned the first calculation will use the figure in the second calculation to estimate the second.

These figures should usually work out as considerably more than the figures that a congregation would have if it supplied the necessary information.

What should be charged for a synod:
I suggest that at a synod level the MaM should work out as:

Cost of local ministry in synod (excluding all synod staffing)+ Synod costs(including all synod staffing) + central office costs + mission correction.

You have noticed I have split the cost of ministry and mission into three.  I think that needs to happen. We need to know what goes centrally, what is spent at synod level and what is spent on local ministry. It is important because at present the fact that we only have stated amounts for the overally amount, and that if synods appoint a minister to a central role, they get the funding out of the same pot as that which pays for local ministers, means that there is little accountability of synods about this. If they appointed a lay person to such a role they would have to find the money for the post out of reserves. That is wrong. These posts need taking out of the calculation for local ministry and put on their own. We need to have equal funding from central for posts whether they are filled by an ordained or lay person. I would suggest that central office costs are simply divided between the number of synods.

Finally I have put in the mission correction. This is the fiddle factor. It can for instance allow central resources to be directed towards specific work within a synod. It can be used to even out the income of synods from trust funds and the like and it may take into consideration deprivation experienced within a synod.

This amount should be the amount the synod is expected to raise from local churches minus the amount it contributes from its own funds.

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