Bequest Stories #4 – Building Improvements

Joe was considered to be your average church member in terms of financial assets but everyone knew that Joe loved his church. A few months after Joe died, the church learned that not only had Joe remembered his church in his will, but he was uncommonly generous. He gave the church an outright $500,000 and a few pieces of property; the total gift was about $650,000. Joe did restrict how the church could use the money – to pay for building maintenance and improvements.

In response to this gift, the church assembled a dozen leaders to discern the appropriate action. Over several months I worked with this group and we worked through the steps in this blog. The original church building was about 50 years old. A new worship center was built about 20 years ago but only cosmetic changes (paint & carpet) had been made to the original buildings since it was built. People had been making their own list for years but prioritizing that was tough. An early decision was made that we’d spend about half of it now and save the other half of the gift for future needs. That decision enabled us to focus on the high priority needs that also had significant savings on energy savings and/or visual impact.

The church spent $100,000 on retrofitting eight old bathrooms and another $125,000 on new windows. Guests and members had long criticized the condition of the bathrooms and how unappealing they were – the completely gutted and refurbished bathrooms are no longer a hindrance. The new windows improved the look of the building but also saved money every year. A few other improvements were made but the church still had over $300,000 to be used in subsequent years for new HVAC equipment, carpet, etc.

There isn’t a memorial plaque to Joe at the church; he wouldn’t have wanted that. His beloved church looks so much better and that is what would have pleased him the most. The church budget wasn’t stretched, the buildings look better than before, new people find the building attractive and clean, and members saw an example of how one person can help his church in his will. Joe was a great role model in death.

Lead On!

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