For 2nd year in a row, Focus on the Family not getting enough donations to make budget

Image by Matt MahurinInfluential conservative social policy group Focus on the Family announced Friday it will eliminate about 50 jobs due to a significant drop in donations that has led to a $15 million budget shortfall, as the Denver Post initially reported. The group also experienced a $27 million budget reduction in 2010.

The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based, group, which James Dobson founded in 1977, is projected to end the 2011 fiscal year, on Sept. 30, with a $105 million budget; however, Focus only brought in $90 million to $95 million in donations this year. The organization is responding to the funding reduction with a 7-percent staff reduction.

“God has never promised us a certain budget number,” said Gary Schneeberger, vice president of communications for Focus on the Family (FoF), in a statement. “He’s only called us to spend the money He provides responsibly and to help as many families as possible. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”

In the last 10 years, FoF’s staff has been reduced by more than half. In 2002, FoF had about 1,400 employees; once the layoffs go through, it will have about 650 people on staff.

FoF has blamed reduced donations on the economy.

“Many nonprofit and for-profit organizations have had to close their doors due to the ravages of these tough economic times,” Schneeberger said. ”We’re encouraged by our donors’ trust in us and will continue to honor and earn it.

“Tears have been spilled on both sides of these decisions, because these aren’t numbers on a spreadsheet,” he continued. “These are friends who share our passion to do the Lord’s work. Given economic realities, though, we had to ensure we continue to maximize the resources we have to help spouses in their marriages, help parents raise their kids and help Christians walk out their faith with boldness and joy.”

In the past three years, FoF — along with its Washington, D.C.-based affiliate the Family Research Council – has used its donations to fight initiatives to legalize same-sex marriage at the state level. In 2008 (PDF) and 2009 (PDF), the group contributed about $200,000 to anti-gay-marriage political campaigns in California, Maine and Washington, D.C., according to financial statements submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). FoF donated about $50,000 Exodus International, the country’s larges “ex-gay” ministry. FoF also spends significant funds on donations to crisis pregnancy centers and on supporting anti-abortion-rights ad campaigns throughout the country. This year, FoF paid for a controversial anti-abortion-rights Super Bowl commercial that starred Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Many of FoF’s state-based affiliates have benefited from a massive political funding campaign called “Ignite an Enduring Cultural Transformation,” where funds are funneled to states with majority-Republican control to oppose same-sex marriage, abortion rights and transgender rights. As The American Independent has reported, most of the Ignite plans were launched with an anonymous matching-grant donor, and FoF has claimed it has no involvement in the program despite being “fully associated” with its affiliates.

FoF experienced a slight budget surplus in 2008, ending the year with about $130 million in revenue. The following year however, FoF ended the year with $109 million in revenue and a $12 million deficit. Further budget reductions in 2010 led the organization to eliminate more than 100 jobs.