How to make a video in PowerPoint

I’m an accountant that makes videos on the side. I have very limited skills in the area of video editing, and I don’t want to spend the time to learn fancy new tools. Prior to PowerPoint, I would make about 3-4 videos per year. I didn’t mind the creating part, but the video editing was intimidating.

Since I learned I could just turn my PowerPoint into a video, I make 4-6 videos a month! No more editing! Everything is finished in the creating and recording process. Once I’m happy with the recording, you just click export. Plus, it seems like every other month I learn something new…almost like Microsoft had video-making accountants in mind when they update PowerPoint.

In this video, you are going to see a recording of me making this video. Behind the scenes-ish.


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Families First Tax Credit for Clergy

Disclaimer: This is general tax advice so don’t sue me. The question I was left with last week was: Can the church claim a payroll tax credit if their pastor is out because of COVID? After doing much research and calls, I came to the conclusion that the church cannot claim the tax credit.

The primary reason for this is the pastors confusing tax status. The IRS considers them to be employees, but the Social Security Administration considers them to be self-employed. This credit is tied to payroll taxes which are under the Social Security Administration.

This does open it up that the pastor might be able to claim this tax credit on their personal tax return. This could be a nice bonus for pastors…as long as they keep documentation of their time out. My preliminary estimate is that pastors could get around a $2,000 credit on their taxes. Here’s how I calculated it:

  • $50,000 in Self-Employment Income (Base Salary of $42k + Fair Rental Value of Parsonage of $12k – Salary Withholdings of $4k)
  • ÷ 260 Work Days (The IRS assumes self-employed folks work just 5 days per week 52 weeks a year. Isn’t that cute.)
  • x 10 Days (if you were out two weeks, you would get 5 days/week.)
  • = $1,923 Tax Credit

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Letting Go to Fuel Generosity

In the 4th quarter webinar for 2020, Sheri Meister takes the learnings from Matt Miofsky’s book “Let Go” and applies them to the church fundraising world. Here’s what I got as the key teachings:

  • A New Hope: Discover who you are as a church and what success looks like for your church. Without hope of a better future, giving, volunteering, and passion will dry up.
  • Letting Go is Necessary: You can’t have it both ways. The world we were ministering to in 1970 or 1990 or even 2019 no longer exists. What ministries and methods are still life changing and what is life draining? We just don’t have the capacity to do a bunch of new things to reach the world of 2020 while still doing everything we’ve always done.
  • Value the Past without Living in the Past: This was a powerful statement from one of our attendees. Is your past a foundation you’re building off of or an idol you’ve started to worship?

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Families First Tax Credit for Lay Employees

Disclaimer: This is general tax advice so don’t sue me. I had almost forgotten about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) until I got a call from Bismarck McCabe UMC. They were on top of things and knew more than I did. The only question we still have is if clergy are covered.

Long story short, FFCRA gave employees an extra 80 hours of sick leave (or proportional if part-time) if they or a member of their family was directly affected by COVID. This is different than being affected by the shutdowns. You can see more about this in the links below. To help pay for this sick leave, you can claim a payroll tax credit! This is good news for churches that already file a quarterly Form 941.

Here’s what makes this credit so good:

  • Dollar for Dollar: You get reimbursed 100% for this sick leave in most cases. This includes health insurance costs.
  • Includes Health Insurance Costs: While few lay employees receive health benefits from the church, that portion can also be applied to the credit.
  • Refundable: This credit is refundable. A lot of our churches don’t pay in much for payroll taxes so it’s nice to know that, when the credit is larger than the taxes, you’ll get a check back.

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So you want to Preach on Giving: Part 5

A sermon on giving and generosity cannot be a Saturday night special! The subject is so touchy and sensitive, it’s like handling electricity or dangerous chemicals. If you don’t take great care in fine tuning the message, someone will get hurt…and likely that someone will be you. With being a guest preacher, I almost always have the luxury of being able to plan weeks ahead and have rarely given a message that I haven’t thoroughly polished. Being an average preacher at best, the polish makes me seem like almost a good preacher.

Here’s why you need to spend the extra time fine tuning your message:

  • Another Perspective: Up until now, this message may have come completely from you. How will a person that is older or younger hear it? How about someone of the opposite gender? People hear things differently depending on their past experiences.
  • Focus: In your research and preparation, you’ll run across great info that you’d love to share…but it doesn’t quite fit with your one point. If you include this, you will weaken your overall message.
  • Practice: People that read their sermons or rely too much on notes or stumble over the delivery seem less believable. A simple one-point message can and should be memorized.

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The Art of the Ask

One of the scariest tasks that pastors and others leaders can face is asking for money. But there are some people that seem to be able to ask for large donations without breaking a sweat. Are these people just born different? Maybe. If you are one of the normal people that doesn’t look forward to asking for donations, Sheri Meister can help you.

There are really two things you need to pay attention to when preparing to make a big ask. First, pay attention to building the relationship. Treat the donor as you would want to be treated. They are not a checkbook attached to a person. They are a person. Don’t just call on them when you want something. If you go to make the ask without building the relationship, get ready to be shot down.

Second, pay attention to building the case. Sometimes when people go to make the ask, they don’t have it clear in their mind the details. The most important thing is: What will be accomplished as a result of this gift? How will the world or the church or whatever going to be better? You should also have a good enough grasp of the strategy for using the gift. You’ll need to know the who, what, when, and where.

Sheri Meister is the primary teacher relying on her decades of experience in the non-profit and fundraising world.


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So you want to Preach on Giving: Part 4

Did you know that the Book of Discipline states “tithing is the minimum goal of giving in The United Methodist Church?” Meanwhile, the average Methodist gave just 1.6% of their income to the church according to a 2009 study by the Indiana University. 1.6%! Apparently Methodists aren’t relying too much on the Book of Discipline…or even the Bible…to guide their giving.

The good news is that there is a ton of room for growth…if people are challenged to grow in giving and generosity. Think about it. If your church is average, and they grow to just 2%, the income to the church will increase by 25%. Here’s an example of what it would look like in an average church:

  • The Median Household Income in the Dakotas is $60,000.
  • The average giving (1.6%) ends up being $960 for the year ($20/week except they miss four weeks of the year).
  • If they gave 2%, their giving goes to $1,200 for the year ($20/week without missing PLUS an extra $160 gift on Christmas Eve).
  • A church of 30 households sees their income increase from $28,800 to $36,000.

If people are never challenged or invited to think about their giving, they usually give the same amount year after year. While not everyone will accept the challenge, some will. Churches that are courageous enough to challenge their people on giving through New Consecration Sunday or the like will see their income grow year after year. Also, I and others have noticed that people growing in giving are usually more joyful and engaged.


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