Have you ever wondered how faith bodies fund themselves? Although they all publish annual accounts, there has been little systematic academic research into the economics of faith in Britain, one of the rare exceptions being James Nathaniel Wolfe and Michael Pickford, The Church of Scotland: An Economic Survey, London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1980.
Within the Church of England the Church Commissioners are a key funding source. They were formed in 1948, from two earlier organizations, to support the Church’s ministry (including all clergy pensions earned before 1998). They contribute around 16% of the cost of the Church of England, most of the balance coming from the giving of parishioners. It is thus of interest that the Commissioners have just announced their results for 2009.
The Commissioners achieved a 15.6% return on their investments during 2009, despite having to write off £40 million from their property investment in Manhattan at the year-end.
They outperformed their comparator group (the WM All Funds Universe of 218 UK pension funds) by 0.5%. They have also outperformed the group during the previous five, ten and twenty years.
The asset value of the Commissioners’ fund stood at £4.8 billion on 31 December 2009, of which investments (including equities) represented 66% and property 27%.
The Commissioners’ total income in 2009 was £145.5 million, a reduction of 16% on the 2008 level, reflecting lower dividends on equity holdings and lower interest rates on cash.
Their total charitable expenditure in the year was £190.8 million, of which 58% was on clergy pensions, 22% for parish mission and ministry (primarily to less resourced dioceses), 14% for supporting bishops (mainly for staff costs), and 4% for cathedrals.
For further information, see the press release at: