The author of 32 books, Schuller was the first religious writer with two titles--"Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do" and "Tough Minded Faith for Tender Hearted People"--on the New York Times best-seller list in the same month. More than 11 million copies of his works have been printed in English alone.
The ministry estimates that Schuller's book royalties total $1.9 million over the past 25 years, although others in the publishing industry say the figure may be much higher.
Despite his huge viewing audience, Schuller's $35 million was less than other major televangelists raised in 1986. Jimmy Swaggart, by contrast, took in $142 million last year.
Schuller's television ministry had total expenses in 1986 of more than $31 million, of which which about $15 million was spent on TV production, $6 million on direct mail solicitations and letter processing, $3.8 million on administrative costs like rent, insurance and professional fees, and $2 million on free gift offers to stimulate contributions from viewers; $53,285 of that was donated to other churches and religious organizations for charitable purposes.
Schuller officials say they consider the TV ministry itself a charity of sorts since it reaches the sick and other shut-ins who cannot go to church. Russ Reid, a Pasadena-based marketing consultant to nonprofit organizations and a member of the board of directors of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, said this is a common attitude for electronic religious programs. "All the money they raise is for television and television is their mission," he said.
In 1986 Schuller's television ministry raised about $4 million in excess of that year's expenses, of which $2.7 million was used to pay leftover bills from the previous year and $1.3 million was deposited into the ministry's checking account, according to Fred W. Southard, chief financial officer for Robert Schuller Ministries.
After a decade of growth, the Schuller television ministry's income has leveled off, as competition from other TV evangelists has driven up the cost of broadcast time. In 1987, "Hour of Power" expects to spend about $13.65 million to buy time on the air, 81% more than the $7.53 million it spent in 1982. To cut costs, the number of stations carrying "Hour of Power" has been slashed from 213 in 1985 to a current total of 187 stations.
Highly Paid Lecturer
Schuller also is a highly paid lecturer, commanding $15,000 for an appearance. Before 1986, he earned as much as $100,000 a year on the lecture circuit. Starting in 1986, Schuller said, he has donated all his lecture fees to the ministry. Schuller does not earn royalties on books, tapes, cassette books or videos of his sermons sold by "Hour of Power" on the air or through the mails. Sales of Schuller books through "Hour of Power" have raised more than $25 million since the 1970s for the television ministry.
In addition to Schuller, his wife and three of their five children and their spouses are employed by the ministry.
Arvella Schuller, 57, is executive program director of "Hour of Power," responsible for the production of the program, programming budget, logistics of staging and audio and video contracts. She also supervises the editing of the program.
Daughter Sheila Schuller Coleman, 36, selects music and vocalists for the show. Son-in-law James Coleman, 38, is president of the television ministry. Daughter Jeanne Schuller Dunn, 29, edits Possibilities, the ministry's magazine. Son-in-law Paul David Dunn, 29, is executive producer and director of the Glory of Easter and Glory of Christmas pageants. Dunn and his wife also own and operate a travel agency that arranges trips to the Holy Land, weekend packages for visitors to the Glory pageants and other tours that are advertised on the air by "Hour of Power."
Robert Anthony Schuller, 33, Schuller's only son, received a $200,000 loan at 9% interest from a foundation established by Crystal Cathedral to build a church for his own ministry at Rancho Capistrano, 92 acres near San Juan Capistrano that Robert Schuller Ministries is developing into a "renewal center." Robert A. Schuller oversees the renewal center, reads Scripture on "Hour of Power" and, along with his mother and father, sits on the board of directors of the television ministry.
Robert A. Schuller's wife Donna, 31, researches broadcast projects, supervises the taping of Scriptures and prayers and helps edit the TV program. And James Coleman's uncle, Terry Larson, 44, is the Crystal Cathedral's property manager.
Family Earns $371,899
Arvella, daughters Jeanne and Sheila, son Robert A., as well as their spouses and Larson in 1986 earned a combined total of $371,899.