Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma President Robert Kellogg shoulders a weighty responsibility as the chief executive officer of an organization with more than $293 million in assets under management—an all-time high, by the way in 2010.
But talk to him about “D Day” and his eyes light up like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning! The big difference is Kellogg—and the Foundation, et al—is not on the receiving end of gifts, but is providing the gifts in the form of distribution checks that go to more than 300 beneficiaries who reap the blessings generated by the generosity of generations of Oklahoma Southern Baptists.
“D Day” is “Distribution Day”—the day the Foundation mails out those checks to beneficiaries—large and small—all of whom have been remembered by Oklahoma Baptists in their estate planning.
“Probably one of the things that’s really unique for us—we’re not a grant making foundation—is that we are a gatekeeper for charitable Oklahoma Baptists who have a desire to give,” Kellogg said. “We invest those gifts all year long, and the income that is earned on that every year, we send out to our endowment clients.”
“That’s exciting for us. On that one day, we really get the full impact of all of Oklahoma Baptists’ generosity who have given through the years. Some dating back 50 years, some dating back to our beginning 65 years ago, some five years ago; all of that money is collected together, regardless of the size of the gift—a $1 million or $2,000 gift. The income that is earned on those gifts is collected together, and we distribute it out in a lump sum to Baptist causes.”
The Foundation’s total distribution this year was $8.1 million, up 15.8 percent over last year.
“Last year was retarded some because of the financial markets,” Kellogg said. “But to know that you have given $8 million and that’s more than a 15 percent increase and it’s going to all of these Baptists ministries; that’s about the most exciting day here.”
Almost all, 99.9 percent of the assets managed by the Foundation are designated by the donor.
“Our Baptist clients can say, ‘Here, BFO, you manage this money for this Kingdom cause,’” Kellogg explained. “Oklahoma Baptists come to us for estate planning. We help them with their wills, and offset a portion of the expense they incur in writing a will if they give 10 percent to a Baptist cause. The interesting thing is, 20 years ago, Baptists gave to the Baptist entities, and they still do—such as Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Baptist Village Communities, the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, but, increasingly, they’re giving to their local church.
“Today, collectively, not any one church, our fastest growing beneficiary of new estate gifts is the local Southern Baptist church. Those are people who are doing their estate plans and have not gone home to be with the Lord yet, but we know there will be future monies. The money we have (coming in) now was written by people primarily through their wills years and years ago that have come to fruition and are being managed.”
In addition to the beneficiaries already mentioned, others include the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, associations, rescue missions and southern Baptist ministries in other countries such as orphanages, seminaries and hospitals.
“It’s almost unlimited. If you can imagine a Baptist cause that Baptists would get excited about, we’re pouring their money into it at some point,” Kellogg said.
The Foundation President, who moved into his position in 2002, said he continues to marvel at the faithfulness of Oklahoma Baptists.
“In spite of a down economy, 2009 and 2010 were two of our largest years in terms of gifts,” he said.
Knowing that makes him aware of the enormous responsibility he and the rest of the Foundation’s employees and its Board of Directors face.
“I recognize at the end of the day that it’s other people’s money that we manage. Oklahoma Baptists give their gifts and it’s our honor to oversee that, but it’s also a burden to make sure we manage that in good stewardship so that it has a good impact,” he stressed.
“I’m anxious about reporting to the Board. You always want to do right. They’re your employers. I’m anxious about reporting to our clients. But, I’m more concerned about having to give an account of myself at the end of my life. Was I a good steward with these resources?
“I never cease to be amazed at the charity of Oklahoma Baptists. And, it’s our honor and privilege to be at the crossroads for people who have a desire to make gifts to organizations and churches that benefit from those gifts.”
Kellogg personally knows how important those gifts—even those that might be considered small in the eyes of some—are.
“My family didn’t have the money for me to go to college at OBU when I graduated from high school,” he shared. “However, a preacher’s wife had set up a small scholarship in her husband’s name, and that made it possible for me to go to OBU. I just thank the Lord for that.”
It’s knowing that Oklahoma Baptists’ generosity results in thanksgiving to God that makes “D Day” a very special one for Robert Kellogg and the staff at the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.