10 Ways for a Church to Have More Money, Guaranteed (part 1 – saving money)

There are two different ways for a church (or any organization) to have more money: spend less and receive more. I want to give five ideas in each category that every church should implement so they can have more money to spend on their God-given mission.

5 Ways to Save Money

  • Install Motion Detectors Everywhere!
    • Humans are quite imperfect especially when it comes to turning things off (or on). That’s where motion sensors come in. I use motion sensors for everything: dispensers for paper towels and soap in bathrooms; for urinal flush valves on toilets and urinals; for lights in halls, bathrooms, classrooms, and offices; and soon for thermostats in classrooms and offices.
    • Motion sensors save money by ensuring that lights and thermostats are on only when a human is present; that toilets get flushed; that only a certain amount of paper towel and soap is dispensed; and that lights are on only when people are moving around. Yes, it costs money to install these, but they pay for themselves in both dollars and in public relations.
    • Motion sensors for lights have cut the electric bills in the church I work by 20% per year. Members think it is cool that their church is so progressive – they like to “show off” their church and talk about how “green” we are. It’s a way cool thing!
    • Full disclosure – you’ll need to buy batteries for the sensors but in the long run, you will save money with the sensors.
  • Invest in Energy efficient lighting and less inventory
    • Most of the building I administer has 4 foot fluorescent lamps. In the past two years I’ve been a multi-year process of changing all my T-12 lamps to T-8s (and in a few years, once the price has come down, to T-5s). I’ve removed my 2×2 fluorescent fixtures and replaced them with 2×4 fixtures and put in T-8s.
    • T-8s are 30% brighter and are 30% more energy efficient than T-12s. I’m saving money, I’m helping the environment, I’m reducing the different types of lamps I have around here so I can buy just 4 foot T-8 lamps. I love the KISS principle – keep it simple, stupid. That’s what I’m doing!
    • Here’s how I found the money to make this happen: at the end of one fiscal year, I explained to my electrician what I wanted to do and asked him to come the first couple of weeks of my fiscal year. I gave him a budget of what I could spend on the project. When he had spend the total amount allocated for that year, he stopped installing T-8s. When I got his bill, I paid half of it out of the maintenance budget and the other half out of the utilities budget. My rationale is that the efficient fixtures are going to save money that would have otherwise been spent on electricity. I’m repeating this as many years as I have to and my electrician loves getting the money that would have gone to to the utility company!
  • Pay bills by ACH and online
    • Use technology to pay your bills without paper. I calculate that every paper check costs about $1 between the check stock, ink, envelope, and postage. Every ACH costs less than 30 cents. After writing several hundred checks a year, you’ll save hundreds of dollars.
    • Paying bills online also means you keep the money in your bank account longer. Keeping money in your account means more interest income during the year, too (well, that would be IF the banks were paying more interest than they are now at half a percent per year).
    • Paying bills online also means that you can track your payments and be assured that the money actually reached the vendor and didn’t “get lost in the mail.”
    • Work with your bank to make this happen. They’ll be glad to help.
  • Use Email and Voicemail Heavily
    • Communication with members must evolve from beyond the Ben Franklin post office system. That’s been around for 200 years, move on to something more efficient, effective and a whole lot cheaper!
    • I email statements of contribution to every person who gives money. Emailing statements of contribution saves me about $750 every time. I still snail mail 450 statements of contribution every time at a cost of $450 ($1 each for postage, envelope, paper, and ink). Believe it or not, I’ve not had any resistance to this method of getting statements of contribution – the business world has helped people become accustomed to email in all its forms.
    • Various ministries email or voicemail different groups (small groups, teachers, choir members, etc.) about upcoming meetings or opportunities. The ministers have learned which method is better to use with which group. Some age categories prefer a voicemail and we have PhoneTree to send out messages that way – it is slower than email but effective. Other ages like emails. Oh, I’m not (yet?) to tweeting or mass texting but I’m sure that will come along.
    • My administrative assistant also emails the weekly bulletin every Thursday or Friday to everyone in our database with an email (and give them the opportunity to “opt out”) and she also emails the monthly news-magazine. We use Constant Contact for some of our communications, too.
    • Find ways of using mass communication methods that don’t involve postage or paper. You can save some serious money by getting away from paper. It will save lots of paper and younger mindsets will appreciate the church helping the planet!
  • Bid out contracts regularly
    • Every 3 to 5 years put all of your regular contracts out to bid. This includes EVERYTHING from your food supplier, elevator contract, dumpster, commercial property insurance, copiers, postage meter, financial audit, custodian supplies, etc. I can’t stress this enough.
    • In times like this, some companies are so hungry they’ll really cut their prices just so they can get business to keep their employees (so they don’t have to lay off anyone). They know they won’t make a profit but they will also retain good talent.
    • Some companies gave you price when times were good and with a weak economy, they are willing to do anything just to keep you as a customer, even in the middle of a contract. They want you to stay with them and they’re willing to void a current contract, reduce their fees, and renew you for several years at a cheaper rate.
    • Recently I cut our commercial property insurance by 42% saving the church $18,000 per year. I got a smaller postage meter because we don’t have the same volume of letters as we did five years before. I upgraded to a color copier for less than what I was paying for a black & white copier. We talked with our bank and got a good rate on our fees. AND, I made sure that none of these savings affected the service we are getting.

Lead On!

Next post: 5 Ways to Make Money