Church Finances during COVID-19 (part 2 of 5) – Paycheck Protection Program

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As part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, Congress approved the Paycheck Protection Program. This program is aimed at small businesses including churches and religiously affiliated non-profits. It is a rare time when Congress authorizes money to be given to churches.


I’ve done the application for a few churches and organizations. The amount of money is you can get is dependent on your payroll but in the churches I’ve worked with it amounts to about 5-6 weeks of income. Word is that the program is so popular that it ran out of money in its first few days but Congress is already working to supply additional money.


  1. It was launched on Friday, April 3, 2020 and the deadline is June 30, 2020.
  2. Work with your bank, you’ll need to calculate your spending on payroll for the past year, complete some forms, and get some signatures. Your banker is the key to the program.
  3. The PPP provides for a 100% forgivable loan by the US government for 2.5 months of your payroll expenses (based on some calculations). If you have the same or more employees after June through December 2020, then the loan is entirely forgiven.
  4. If you don’t need or want the money – get it anyway. You can always
    1. Return the money later
    2. Give it to a non-profit that you partner with
    3. Use it for missions in your community
  5. The CARES Act also has some changes in charitable giving laws which might be of benefit to some people in your church. Please consult your tax professional to see if these laws would be beneficial in letting you give more money to your church. And even if the laws aren’t in your favor, give anyway – you’ll rarely regret giving money to your church.


Lead On!


Listen to the podcast:–the-CARES-Act–and-Making-Tough-Decisions-ecfgm7


Church Finances during COVID-19 (part 1 of 5)

Issues to address immediately:

  1. Online giving – if you don’t have it, get it now. My currently preferred vendor is Tithely. They can get you set up in a few hours (they say they can do it in minutes but…). Then, promote the heck out of your online giving.
  2. Audio & video technology – This crisis has forced many churches to acknowledge their AV equipment wasn’t ready. PLEASE invest more money into this area. You won’t regret it. After this is over you’ll have really good microphones. With your video equipment, you can improve or launch an online service so that members can watch you whether they’re homebound, traveling, sick, in a retirement community, or just want to watch the service again during the week.
  3. Paycheck Protection Program – the $2.2 trillion CARES Act (and its related additional acts) provide churches federal money. This is the first time the US government has offered money to faith groups. Fill out the forms, work with your local banker, and get the money. If you don’t need or want the money – get it anyway. You can always
    1. Return the money later
    2. Give it to a non-profit that you partner with
    3. Use it for missions in your community


I think every church in the world has realized the need for those two things. These are no longer “wants” but actual needs. Yes, it will cost some money but it may be the difference in survival and closing your doors.

Lead On!


Listen to the podcast:–the-CARES-Act–and-Making-Tough-Decisions-ecfgm7

An Expensive Football

Years ago my church had an auction to raise money for a summer missions trip for the youth. It was a big event – it took two days to stage, the youth were waiters, we had a professional auctioneer (he donated his services), it was an event! One of the live auction items was a football signed by a nationally known coach who was a legend in the state. The football started at $100







At this point everyone dropped out except for one older man and a younger man whose 10-year old son was sitting beside him. The boy was incredibly excited about the prospect of getting this football.







The father bid again, $4,000

The other man bid $4,500


The father looked down at his son, shook his head and said he couldn’t go any higher. The son was crushed. He hung his head and was terribly disappointed.

The auctioneer awarded the bid to the older gentleman who came forward, wrote a check, and was handed the prized football. The man looked at the football and walked to the boy and handed him the ball. “It’s yours.” And he left.

This is a completely true story – you can’t make up this stuff.

Lead On!



When I was a poor college student I had barely enough to get by. I certainly didn’t have any money to tithe. And when the offering plate was passed, I wanted to give but I couldn’t. I had no financial margin in my life.

One Sunday morning I walked from my parking spot to the church and noticed on a ground a $10 bill. I put it in my wallet knowing I could use it for a meal or some expense. Before going too far I felt a nagging question (from God? Probably): why don’t you put this found money in the offering plate.

I sat through the service and when the plate was passed, I passed. The money never left my wallet. I felt guilty afterward – I was given money, I was asked to give it away, and I didn’t.

That was almost 40 years ago but I remember it quite well. The lesson I’ve tried to learn is to be generous whenever I can. Opportunities will appear out of nowhere and you’ll be asked to give. Do it – you won’t regret being generous but you will regret being stingy. I still do.

Lead On!


Send Donor Statements More Frequently

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  1. Let your donors know regularly how much they’ve given. Send contribution statements five times: the first week after each quarter ends plus an extra one the first week of December. A statement in early December reminds people of how much they’ve given (or not given) to the church so far that year and provides a reminder to make a contribution. Emailing statements is feasible with most church database systems at no or low cost.
  2. Every time you send out donor contribution statements, include a cover letter which tells 2 or 3 very short stories (tweets size) about the ministries of the church. This keeps people informed about what is going on. Also, the cover letter tells the donors who to contact the church office to correct erroneous data.
  3. For churches that mail offering envelopes to donors, send those out four times year.  Handing out or mailing offering envelopes just once a year means most people are aware of giving just once a year. Also, some people lose their packet of envelopes in a month so getting packets four times a year helps those people.
  4. Five contribution statements plus four mailings of offering envelopes = 9 times a year that members are being reminded to give.

Lead On!

Steve – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

First Time Donors

  1. Coming to a church for the first time means giving up several hours of your day (getting dressed to come, driving, being there, and going home). People have to be willing to attend something where they don’t know what is going to happen and who’s going to speak to them. It can be intimidating. People who visit your church for the first time should be acknowledged. The best way to do that is with a word at the door of the church by one of the ministers or, if you get their contact information, a brief note thanking them for giving their time to attend.
  2. When someone gives to the church for the first time, they not only are giving their time but also their labor. That is a big deal and it, too, should be acknowledged. The church’s finance office can tell the pastor who are first time donors because they’ll have to enter their info in the database. Most of the time the church can capture the donor’s information from a check or the email from digital donation. Send first time donors a note thanking them for their gift – they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
  3. An extra step to thank donors is to give them a book. A couple of good ones are The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley. The cost of the book and mailing will be about $10 but it will send an important message to the donor-the church is investing in you and we thank you for your gift with one of our own.

These are effective methods to recognize and thank first-time donors in a way that doesn’t embarrass them and may actually encourage them to give again.

Lead One!

Steve – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Giving Power

On March 28, 2019 a fire completely destroyed the apartments of 48 college students in Harrisonburg, VA, the home of James Madison University. Shortly after the fire, a student created a GoFundMe site asking for $48,000; within five days, the site received over $86,000. Here are some lessons churches can take away from this:

  • Power of small gifts-more than 3700 people gave an average gift of $23.24. The two biggest gifts were $500 each. While it is important to ask high capacity donors for gifts, do not underestimate the power of LOTS of smaller gifts. That also means that your message is shared among a wider audience and the ripple effect of that is immense. Everyone who gives feels good about being part of the solution.
  • Power of urgency-there was an immediate need and someone acted quickly. When there is a crisis, leaders must be proactive and not wait on a committee’s approval. When there is a need, address it immediately.
  • Power of community-this need was seen and met by tens of thousands of students, alumni, and friends all bound by one thing-their university. Leverage “the tie that binds” so people can unite behind one achievable goal.
  • Power of storytelling-this story has been shared on social media over 20,000 times. Churches need to share their stories of generosity as often as they can in as many ways as they can so that their community will know the ways they are engaged with their neighbors and city. Tell the stories!
  • Power of integrity-a student created this site but quickly released it to university administrator. Donors were able to see that a trusted institution would dole out the gifts in an impartial way.
  • Power of opportunity-people were asked to give and churches don’t do that enough. Every church has opportunities to be generous in their neighborhood and city-look for them and challenge everyone to join in.
  • Power of meeting other needs-money is the easiest way to give but there was also a request for clothing, school supplies, etc. for the students. This provides people a chance to give in other ways if they don’t have money to share. Look for creative ways for everyone to participate.

Lead On!

Steve – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Planned Giving & Endowment

  1. When each of us die, we will give away 100% of everything we own – it is the most generous we will ever be. But estate planning is NOT only for end of life decisions. Remember the joy you see at Christmas or birthdays; imagine being able to see that joy with things in your estate: land, money, possessions.
  2. Churches should have an annual emphasis whereby members are asked to include their family, friends, and the church they love in their will. Some churches even provide attorneys who prepare wills and the church pays part of the cost (if the church is included).
  3. Hospitals, civic organizations, non-profits, universities, and even high schools are asking people to give to them in their will. But none of them will do the funeral or even send a representative. The church will do the most for people at the end of their life – why not ask them to remember the church they love in their will.
  4. Let people know the causes/purposes in the church budget which the endowment can support financially such as missions, worship, fellowship, and programs for children and youth. People will readily give to those.
  5. During the annual endowment emphasis, tell stories in writing and from the pulpit of how the previous generations planned for the future and how we are blessed by their gifts. Storytelling is powerful and people will remember their impact.

Lead On!

Steve – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of