Thursday, July 10, 2008

"So, where do you get your funding?"

People ask me this question often.

In view of the common, popular question, and in light of the ongoing debate here about the role of public funds and the responsibility of churches and other faith communities to care for the needs of a city like Dallas, I thought a brief report about the sources of our funds might be useful.

Our certified audit for FY2007 is hot off the press, so the numbers for last year form the basis of my report.

During 2007. . .

. . .churches provided us 2% of our revenue

. . .corporations gave us 2.8% of our funding

. . .individuals offered 14.6% (no doubt, many from churches)

. . .foundations awarded 13.7%

. . .public funds amounted to a little over 33%

. . .United Way funded right at 6%

. . .special events brought in about 3%

. . .fees for services provided (we do ask our neighbors to participate) 4%

. . .sales contributed less than 1%

. . .in-kind donations totaled 9%

. . .the balance included other income, interest earned and restricted funds released for use during the year.

I'd love to receive your reflections and impressions on this breakdown.



Adam Gonnerman said...

The libertarian in me has ethical questions about using taxes to generate "public" funds to distribute.

As a Christian, I think society in general as a duty to the poor and needy, and the church has a calling to serve and reach out to the margins.

I'd rather churches and Christians supported you more.

I'm not losing any sleep over your public funding (as though my opinion mattered anyway!).

Eric Livingston said...

Like Adam, I wish a larger percentage of your operating budget came from churches and/or individuals.

The positive thing about these numbers is that you are diversified. Not all of your income streams are in one basket.

Larry James said...

Thanks for the posts, guys.

Adam, why would our tax/revenue system not be considered the response of society to its recognized "general duty to serve and reach out to the margins"? It takes us to scale in a highly efficient manner, compared to other processes. And, thanks to our democratic system, it can be modified and adjusted. Again, as I've said so often, the scale of the problems calls for a giant, broadbased response that only government can adequately provide. The role of private charity, including that of churches, can add great value to this strong basis reflecting the duty of the general society.

I, too, would welcome more involvement from churches and individuals. We try hard to get it and we need it for many reasons beyond just the bottom line. But, consider your own church and how it spends its funds. In the early days of CDM, we did receive a much higher % of our funds from churches and individuals. But, as we confronted the problems more comprehensively and as we moved out to a larger scale, the private funds just couldn't keep pace. For instance, we are providing nutrious lunches and staff support to over 130 sites this summer. We are feeding about 9,000 children every day thanks to a Dept of Agriculture contract. Churches are supporting this effort by hosting the children in many of these sites and by providing the summer programming that goes with that. Nice partnership involving everyone. I can't see a downside and, yes, Adam, while I respect you, I can't disagree strongly enough about the "ethics" of the funding. To me the ethics of this equation is located in the empty stomachs of 9,000 kids who cannot wait for "people of faith" to do what their master asked them to. And, BTW, I'm not angry as I write this--just realistic. :)

Adam Gonnerman said...


I'm sorry, you've misunderstood me. I think you were looking for someone conservative to come on strong, and have projected the reaction you would have with them onto me. Save the righteous indignation for someone who is really a critic.

Larry James said...

Hey, Adam, I really don't feel righteous at all. And, as I tried to indicate, there is no feeling of indignation here, I promise you. However, I was responding to the word "ethical." I didn't at all mean to attack you or even the position that someone other than you who is more conservative might take. I do get a little weary with tying libertarian thought to that which is considered "ethical" while regarding any social, collective action as "unethical." That was my only point.

All that said, I sincerely apologize if I offended you. I really wasn't trying to attack you at all.

Anonymous said...

what struck me was how large the amount contributed by the clients of CDM was compared to the overall pie. This shows me that those who benefit actually give back to CDM and are givers as well as takers of the services. My guess is this is quite unique and speaks to the "model" put into place by CDM.

Larry James said...

You are correct. We've always included community participation in all that we do. Folks want to do what they can, much more than they want to be served for nothing. The community is the most dynamic force in our efforts here.

Anonymous said...

Larry-I tried to get our church to publicize in bulletin about Clint Black's fund raiser for CDM. I got a call from an elder who said he couldn't approve this. Thinking his objection was to a concert(VERY conservative eldership), I was taken aback when he said their objection was to CDM!! I asked why, was given a very vague answer, & invited to an elder's meeting where they would explain in detail. I'm thinking about doing this, but wonder if maybe you know what they're going to tell me???thanks for any input(maybe questions I can ask them??)

Call me Ishmael said...

One observation:

Churches provided half as much funding (2%) as the poor people who use the services (4%).

Something is wrong with that.

Anonymous, they likely do not have a problem with CDM as much as they have a problem with the political beliefs of some of its leaders. It is a shame that they would not fund some of the community's most effective social services for the poor just because they are being delivered by people who might disagree with them on theology, politics, etc.

Larry James said...

Anon 10:04, please call me at 214.823.8710 ext 116 or email me at and let's talk about your questions.

Thanks for your efforts on our behalf. I'm sorry for any embarassment to you. I would like to talk to you.

Anon 1:38, thanks for your observations. I think what you say about the church and the poor is important. As for the leaders of the church in question, I expect you are correct. This saddens me.

Larry James said...

Anon 10:04, I enjoyed talking to you earlier today. Thanks for calling and thanks for being brave.

For the rest of you, the church in question maintains a very narrow perspective on who is "in" and who is "out" with the good Lord. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend how people can continue to put up with such a worldview. Tony Campolo refers to such groups as modern day proponents of the flat earth society! This same church didn't like me any better when I was a pastor. So nothing new here for me at least.

I suppose it is all about the friends that are members of such a church and staying to endure with them. I don't spend any time worrying about being rejected by leaders who think in such small ways.

At the same time, I don't mind issuing the challenge: what are you doing to relieve the suffering of the poor in this city?

Anonymous said...

Larry - what church is it?

Larry James said...

Likely best that I not say.