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Direct Giving Drops for Falwell Ministry

November 30, 1988

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) _ Contributions to the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s ″Old-Time Gospel Hour″ have dropped by more than $10 million and the ministry’s net worth has fallen by nearly $5 million from last year, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for Falwell, said the organization is deliberately moving away from dependence on direct public contributions and said revenues have increased almost $3 million.

The Lynchburg News & Daily Advance, citing the latest available tax records, reported that for the fiscal year ending June 30, public contributions to the Old-Time Gospel Hour totaled $40.7 million, the lowest level since the 1981-82 fiscal year.

″We have made a conscious effort in the past year to look for other sources of income, realizing that contributions can and will drop depending on climate of the country,″ DeMoss said.

Combined with indirect public support, which DeMoss said included deferred giving, estate planning and grants, total contributions were $44.2 million, comparable with 1985-86 levels. The ministry’s total revenues increased from $60.9 million in 1986-87 to $63.7 million in 1987-88, he said.

″While contributions may drop in a given year, we feel like we can maintain a pretty stable bottom line, which we’re most concerned with,″ DeMoss said. ″The key thing is that even though direct public support dropped by as much as $10 million, total revenues are up. As far as we’re concerned and as far as any business or company would be concerned, the bottom line is the bottom line. And that’s encouraging.″

DeMoss said separate sex scandals involving former PTL leader Jim Bakker and television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart may have contributed to the decline in contributions.

″I think we’d be a lot more concerned about a bottom line drop of $10 million than we are about a difference in contributions,″ he said. ″We are prepared and preparing for the possibility that contributions may be harder to come by year after year and we need other income sources.″

The newspaper said records also show Falwell, as president of the televised Gospel Hour, received a $25,000 raise, bringing his annual salary to $125,000. He also continued to receive $33,000 in benefits from the ministry.

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