LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Baptist Foundation (ABF) in 2023 had the opportunity to distribute a record sum totaling more than $50 million.
Since 1949, the Foundation has distributed more than $575 million for God’s work in Arkansas and around the world. This past year, the Foundation had the opportunity to distribute $50,394,184.
“It’s just remarkable,” Arkansas Baptist Foundation President/CEO Bobby Thomas said. The main mission of the Arkansas Baptist Foundation is to serve, advise and encourage the churches, agencies, institutions and ministries of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Gifts given through the Arkansas Baptist Foundation are designated to a specific ministry. Of the more than $50 million distributed, $20,451,397 was designated to the local church. That’s roughly 40% of all distributions. Seventy-five percent of gifts distributed in 2023 went to an Arkansas Baptist related ministry.
“It’s just folks saying, I have something that is of value, and I want to give it to something in Arkansas Baptist life and I want the Foundation to help me get it there,” Thomas said. “We’re just a conduit in all this.”
For instance, recently the Arkansas Baptist Foundation served as the intermediary when a truck was donated to Eagle Farms at Williams Baptist University.
Additionally, the Foundation processes gifts for the International Mission Board (IMB), North American Mission Board (NAMB), colleges and seminaries and other Southern Baptist Convention entities. The Foundation processed more than $1 million in gifts for IMB last year.
“We still process gifts for national and international agencies, but we’ve seen this real surge in Arkansas Baptists supporting Arkansas Baptist causes through the Arkansas Baptist Foundation,” Thomas said.
“It’s a sign of the Lord’s provision. The Lord has blessed Arkansas Baptists and Arkansas Baptists are being generous, particularly with churches that they are members of, and allowing us to be a small part of it. It’s certainly a sign of the Lord’s provision working through His people.”
For the longest time, Thomas said the Foundation was considered an additional funding mechanism for the other agencies and institutions. In the last five years or so, churches have begun to see there are alternatives beyond normal tithes through the Foundation. He said it was a full circle moment to realize part of the increase in distributions could be tied back to a decision they made eight years ago.
One of the changes the Foundation made eight years ago was to offer free capital campaign consultant services to Arkansas Baptist churches. Furthermore, the Foundation extended free will and estate planning, making it available to not just the pastor but laypersons.
Since taking the helm in 2015, Thomas has made it a priority to educate others on the Foundation and for the Foundation to be more intentional in communicating with churches.
“We know the bride of Christ is the local church. The Lord is coming back for the church not the Foundation. This isn’t about us. It’s about how we can serve you and how we can be an extension of your staff,” Thomas said.
The Arkansas Baptist Foundation’s first board meeting of the year was held Thursday, Feb. 8.
For more information about the Foundation, visit abf.org.