As proportional gifts from dioceses to General Synod—voluntary donations that make up nearly 90% of the national organization’s net revenue—enter a third year of decline, Council of General Synod (CoGS) is evaluating the system by which dioceses apportion their income to the national church, aiming to possibly propose changes at the meeting of General Synod in 2022.
General Synod treasurer Hanna Goschy gave a presentation on the church’s proportional giving on the second day of the spring meeting of CoGS, held in Mississauga, Ont., March 13-15.
Goschy gave a quick overview of the history of the current system for proportional giving, which she explained was developed in the 1990s and approved by the meeting of General Synod in 1998, then implemented in 2000. “At that time there was some agreement, an intent, that dioceses were asked to give a common percentage of income to General Synod, and the income would be reported on a consistent and common basis on what’s called the ‘proportional giving form,’” Goschy said. The 1998 synod agreed upon 26%.
While 26% is still the target percentage, Goschy noted that “proportional giving is voluntary…[dioceses] choose how much of a gift they give to General Synod to support its ministries.”
Showing a line graph of the trajectory of proportional giving over the past 25 years, Goschy noted a fairly stable period between 2007 and 2017, followed by a steep drop in 2018 and 2019.
Goschy said that giving had “drifted a bit from what was agreed to 20 years ago,” for many reasons, including staffing changes, confusion about how the proportional giving form might be filled out, and an erosion of the financial base across the church. In response to a question from the floor, Goschy said the average percentage of diocesan income contributed to General Synod in the 2020 budget was 20%.
The 2020 budget for proportional gifts equals $7.6 million, which includes a $300,000 contingency to allow for dioceses that may not meet their proportional giving goals. The 2020 budget, approved at the November 2019 meeting of CoGS, included the contingency.
Total proportional giving in 2019 equaled $7,814,914; the budgeted amount for that year was $8,015,420, leaving a shortfall of $200,506.
In response to the financial presentation, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, told CoGS, “The reality is that we need a conversation…with the Council of General Synod, with the House of Bishops, with dioceses.” Citing, among other things, the trends of decreasing giving and attendance in Anglican churches, Nicholls added the conversation would require “transparency and frankness.”