Use Offering Time To Tell Stories

  1. Donors want to hear how their gifts are being used in ministry. A financial statement doesn’t tell the whole story. Church leadership must share interesting stories of how offerings are being used.
  2. Find 52 compelling stories and insert those in the offertory time. If the church doesn’t have 52 stories, the church has bigger issues. Work with the worship leader to coordinate where in the worship the offering time will fall so that the offertory and its accompanying story add synergy to the service. Insert stories that relate to the sermon, to the liturgical calendar, to the school year, to seasons of the life of a church, etc. Make the story/offering time a key element of worship, not just a way to kill three minutes.
  3. During the year, give every ministry a chance to be on the platform telling one (and only ONE) story. Tell a story about real people, real events. Give ministries time to announce an upcoming youth event, a mission trip, Vacation Bible School, small groups, Christmas, or Easter activity, etc. This is “thank you” time (not an announcement time).
  4. Tell the stories using different methods such as interviews, slide shows, testimonies, songs, handouts, etc. Be creative each time and vary the method the story is told from week to week.
  5. Here are some examples:
    1. I’d like for you to see what our youth did on their summer mission trip. Because of your gifts, 13 kids spent a week that will change their lives for the next 60+ years. Thanks! (then comes slideshow with cool music)
    2. In two weeks we’re launching new small groups and we want you in one of them. If you can’t afford the study book, the church’s offerings will buy you a book. We’ll even pay for babysitting so you can be there. And yes, thanks to everyone’s contributions who are making this possible.
  6. Make each story compelling and have each presentation heart-touching. Always use the words “thank you” and “generosity/generous” – those words have no negative connotations. Soon, the offering time will be something people look forward to.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Giving Cards in Pews

People who come to church often want to give but they don’t have cash or checks on them. With digital donations now available, giving to the church can be done anytime. Churches can provide a “giving card” that informs people of the various ways they can support their church.

  1. Inform your worshippers of the various ways they can support the church financially with “Giving Cards.” Create a card (about the size of an offering envelope) with all the ways that people can give to your ministry budget: cash, checks, website (include link), church app, text to give, a QR code link, etc. Put this card in the pew with the offering envelopes for people to take and have a reminder to give.
  2. In most churches, people can only give if they have cash or checks at the moment the offering plate is passed. A giving card shows people the other ways they can give from their home computer or smartphone after worship is over.
  3. On the flip side of the card you can include a verse (1 Timothy 6:17-18 is good) and/or ways for people to get involved in the church: small groups, mission trips, volunteering, etc.
  4. Use the card to educate people about how they can help their church and themselves.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Keep Your Database in the Cloud

  1. A file server is the main computer in an office which stores the central files/database and software that an organization uses. These servers cost several thousand dollars and last about five years. You no longer need a file server.
  2. Instead, you can use software such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft One to keep your files in a cloud-based storage center. Most of your programs (word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, and church management systems) can be run online eliminating the need to buy software and update it regularly.
  3. These files are pretty safe from hackers and ransomware since you’re using the resources of major companies such as Microsoft and Google. They want to keep the trust of their clients so they go to great lengths to protect all their files.
  4. Work with your IT guru to see how you can save money by centralizing your database and programs online. Many of these programs can be accessed through your smartphone or tablet from which you can forward the document or take a screenshot and share the image.
  5. If you need to buy software, use a company called TechSoup. They sell name brand software to nonprofits for 10% to 25% of the original cost.

Lead On!

Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Bid Contracts Regularly

  1. Once you get to know a vendor, it is comfortable to stay with that company indefinitely. They know the building and the equipment and the church knows the service tech. However, best practices are to bid out your contracts every 3 to 5 years. This includes EVERYTHING from the food supplier, elevator maintenance, electrician, plumber, dumpster, commercial property insurance, copiers, postage meter, phone service, financial audit, custodian supplies, etc.
  2. Some companies are so hungry they’ll cut prices to get enough business to keep their employees busy (so they don’t have to lay off anyone). They know they won’t make a profit but they will also retain good talent and they know they’ll still make a profit. Some companies are willing to do anything just to keep good customers which could mean even revamping a contract halfway through the term. In every instance, insist that the savings not affect the quality of service.
  3. One case in particular: building insurance
    1. First, ensure that you have the proper valuation on your building and contents. Never be over or under insured or you’ll be paying too much or not have sufficient coverage. An appraisal may cost a few thousand dollars every ten years or so but it can save you tens of thousands in premiums.
    2. Get the right kind of coverage for your operations specifically for child abuse, owned & non-owned vehicles, umbrella coverage, and employment practices. When looking at how much coverage to get, think about what you would do if you were starting anew today versus recreating a building that was built by a prior generation for the needs of that era.
    3. Get rid of coverages that you don’t need including terrorism insurance which is automatically charged but is unnecessary due to the limitations Congress imposed on it. Seriously, remove the terrorism insurance coverage and save money.
    4. Get at least three bids from companies that specialize in church insurance. Some national insurance companies do not understand the particular needs of churches.

Lead On!

Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

More Banking Savings

  1. Pay bills by ACH and online
    1. It costs about $1 to process a paper check: the check stock, envelope, ink, stamp, and time all add up.
    2. Paying bills online is cheaper (there are still bank processing fees and time) and has some residual benefits. Your money stays in your bank account longer and you can earn a little more interest. You know when a bill was paid because you’re controlling when the money goes out the door; you avoid payments getting “lost in the mail.” It is easier to reconcile bank statements when bills are paid online.
  2. Use a Rewards Credit Card
    1. If you have a church credit card, ensure that it accrues rewards. Over time, you’ll earn enough points to get some neat things, even a computer or tablet. When redeeming points, I suggest getting things which have a lifespan as opposed to airline miles or hotel stays. The latter are one and done whereas tangible things last several months or years which means you’re getting a better value.
    2. Some rewards cards have an annual fee. Do the math to see if you charge enough in a year to far more than offset that fee to make it worthwhile to get the card.

Lead On!

Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Banking

  1. Have one checking and one investment account, not multiple accounts of each type.
  2. Some churches have multiple accounts to stay under the FDIC coverage of $250,000, but please know that in almost 90 years of its existence, the FDIC has covered every single deposit of every bank that has gone under regardless of the size of the account. No one has ever lost money because they had more than the FDIC limit.
  3. Having one bank makes it easier and faster to reconcile your bank statement each month. And, having one investment account also speeds up the monthly reconciliation. Also, if you have multiple bank accounts, you’ll spend time, check stock, and money transferring money around unnecessarily.
  4. There is no need to have different bank accounts for different funds (an operating fund, building fund, etc). Separating the funds is an accounting function; do not mix accounting functions with banking. Banking is the physical location of your money while accounting is tracking what your money is to be used for.
  5. Multiple bank accounts is a way to embezzle money. When money gets transferred between banks and accounts, it gets harder and harder to track (certainly takes a lot more time to trace) and thieves count on that complexity to cover their misdeeds.
  6. Use a Community Bank: There are national, regional, and community (local) banks. Community banks know their cities and neighbors far better than the other two. Also, they’re rates and fees are better because they don’t have to pay for several levels of executives in other cities. They are more willing to make exceptions because they know who they’re dealing with and, in some cases, actually worship in the churches they’re working with. Stay local.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Paying for Energy Efficient Improvements

Expenditures on items to improve your energy efficiency should have a payback of five years or less. Most churches do not have ready cash to make major investments in their building to reduce energy consumption and financing arrangements often are self-defeating (the energy savings go to pay for the bank loan and by the time the loan is paid off, the equipment needs to be replaced). Here are some ideas to offset these expenses.

  1. On electrical work, always use a licensed electrician. Poor electrical work can lead to fires which won’t be covered by insurance if it wasn’t done properly. Your church may have a member who is a licensed who will do some of this work pro bono or at cost – take advantage of those skills (and thank them publicly!).
  2. Have a capital campaign or special offering for specific equipment. Ask interested members to give to a purpose which ignites their passion. You may be surprised at what some members will give and how much they’ll give. Younger members are especially attuned to environmental matters.
  3. If you need to pay from your budget, here are a couple of ideas
    1. Have the work done at the end of a fiscal year (December) and then pay the bill from two fiscal years (December and January). That will have less of an impact on your budget and your electrician still gets paid within 30 days.
    2. Do the work early in the fiscal year and pay for it out of two separate budget lines: the maintenance budget and the utilities budget. Since the utilities expense will be less for the rest of the year, it is reasonable for the utilities to absorb some of the maintenance cost in January and reap the savings over the rest of the year (and future years).
    3. Do both of the above paying out of two fiscal years and two budget lines. That spreads the expense even further.

Lead On!
Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

More Expensive but Beneficial Measures

Here are some savings on electricity which cost more, but which also have benefits beyond energy efficiency. Here are some ideas.

  1. Wooden windows need to be painted every 5 to 7 years. Instead of painting, use the money and replace them with double-pane windows. Vinyl windows are relatively cheap (about the cost of 2 or 3 paintings) and they are good for north, east, and west-facing sides of your building. South-facing windows take the brunt of the sun’s heat and UV rays and aluminum windows are recommended for that side. Aluminum windows won’t sag in the middle under the intense sun. Double pane windows also mean you can clean the windows easily from the inside.
  2. Wooden window frames can be replaced with the entire window but a cost-saving measure is to wrap the frames in aluminum. Aluminum comes in a variety of colors and it never needs repainting. Wrapping the wood eliminates forever the cost of painting.
  3. As your HVAC units die, replace them with higher SEER rated units. They will cost more but they’ll be more energy efficient. Get as high a SEER rating as you can afford each time.
  4. Older model gas boilers were 60% efficient. That means that 40% of the heat they generate goes up the chimney. New models are 97% efficient. They cost twice as much but over the 20-25 year lifespan of a boiler, it will pay for itself several times over is gas savings (and pollute less).
  5. Tankless or “on-demand” hot water systems are efficient ways to have unlimited hot water. A hot water tank holds 40 or 100 gallons and keeps that water hot all the time. A tankless system heats the water only when it is needed eliminating the constant use of electricity on a tank system. Tankless systems also use less space in the boiler room.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of