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Ministry Spotlight

Ministry Spotlight: Ligonier Ministries

Organization has stopped releasing public 990s and audited financial statements

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This week, Ligonier Ministries’ Donor Confidence Score dropped from 66 to 35, and its Transparency rating moved from an A to a C.

A Q&A session with Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, and Burk Parsons from Ligonier’s 2024 National Conference / Video screenshot

The new score of 35, “Withhold Giving,” stems from a number of changes. First, the organization has stopped releasing public Form 990s.

According to Guidestar, Ligonier Ministries “is not required to file an annual return with the IRS because it is a church.”

In order to obtain the tax category of “association of churches” an organization has to petition the IRS to be reclassified. This is becoming a trend among large Christian organizations, and one The Trinity Foundation has called a “warning sign” for donors.

Ligonier Ministries’ last public Form 990 is from 2019, and shows a revenue of $25.8 million with overall expenses at $23.8 million.

While Ligonier does not make its financials public, the ECFA does release limited financial data on its member organizations. According to its report, Ligoniers’ overall revenue jumped more than 60% from 2019 to 2022. The report notes the organization has $43.4 million in total revenue. Its net assets also grew from $45.5 million in 2019 to $53 million in 2022.

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In addition to its 990s, Ligonier Ministries also does not make its audited financial reports public, causing it to lose additional points on its Donor Confidence Score. They do, however, make it available upon request.

Its president and CEO Chris Larson sits on the board of directors. The chairman of the board, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, is also a teaching fellow for the ministry.

Ligonier Ministries was founded in 1971 by theologian R.C. Sproul. Its website states that its mission is “proclaiming, teaching, and defending the holiness of God in all its fullness to as many people as possible.” The organization does this through its app, podcasts, video series, books,“Tabletalk” magazine, an internet radio stream called RefNet, and conferences.

MinistryWatch Donor Confidence Score: 35 (out of a possible 100) “Withhold Giving”

MinistryWatch Financial Efficiency Rating:  1 Star (out of a possible 5 Stars)

MinistryWatch Transparency Grade:  C

ECFA Member? Yes

Revenue in Most Recent Year Available (2019 Form 990): $25,858,613

Five-Year Revenue Trend: Increasing (by about 7.9%)

Percent of Revenue Ligonier Ministries Spends on Fundraising: 11%

Percent Peer Group Spends on Fundraising: 7%

CEO/President: Chris Larson

President’s Salary and Other Compensation: $311,022 (in 2019)

A complete MinistryWatch profile for Ligonier Ministries can be found here.

Find recent MinistryWatch articles mentioning Ligonier Ministries here.

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Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith is a freelance writer living in Colorado Springs. She is the co-author of Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life and Choice.