Old Money, New Opportunities

How many times have you been at a church meeting where you are discussing a great ministry opportunity, but there’s no money available for it…except for the money in that one fund? Most churches have that pot of money whose purpose is not written down but is actually embodied by the committee that has historically controlled the money. That’s not healthy. It becomes a control issue instead of a stewardship issue.

Sheri Meister, Barb Brower, and I talk about how to properly setup funds and how to work with the church to rediscover the purpose of old funds. We believe the donor gave the money to bless the church…not divide the church. We hope this helps you find new opportunities for some old money.

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3 Principles that will Transform your Church Budget

Gallup did a poll some years back and found that 33% of households kept a formal budget. The adopting and living by a budget is really the first step for anyone wanting to feel more secure in their finances. The same is true for the church. While the vast majority of churches adopt a budget, few live by that budget. Why is that? Because most of them adopt a bad budget. The budget is usually unrealistic, doesn’t support the church’s vision, and feels like a waste of effort.

In our work with churches, Sheri Meister and I have identified three principles that will change the way you budget.

  1. Know your bottom line: You’re not the Federal Government so you can’t spend money you don’t have.
  2. Include your long-term goals: You should be looking forward to more than just surviving the year.
  3. Tell your story in numbers AND words: Go through the exercise of creating a narrative budget.

The first two will honestly be the most difficult and bring the most resistance. You will have to push forward because your church’s financial future depends on it.

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A Deep Dive into Endowments and Legacy Giving

Endowments are one of the best gifts you can give to a church yet they are largely misunderstood. Sheri Meister and I go over the details on how exactly endowments work and why they are such awesome gifts.

In the Dakotas, the simplest way to think of an endowment is to imagine someone gifted you some farmland. The farmland holds its value while still generating income from the church. That is how an endowment works…except without having the pain of being a landlord.

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The Why’s and How’s of Electronic Giving

Electronic giving isn’t going away yet some churches are still resistant to allowing people to give electronically. I wonder if there was a time when checks were knew and churches only accepted cash, livestock or grain. In this webinar, I try to make the case for why churches should make the switch. Long story short, 1)checks and cash usage are in decline, 2)it’s kind of silly to only accept gifts one hour per week…if the weather is good, 3)it helps people give consistently, and 4)it can be part of a person’s discipleship.

Deciding to allow electronic giving is only the first step. We also need a strategy for promoting and transitioning donors. Just because we set up electronic giving doesn’t mean that people will flock to it or even be aware of the option. You need to have a strategy for rolling it out and regularly making the congregation aware of this option.

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Year Round Stewardship Plan

Hopefully this is timely and helpful for any church struggling financially. Here’s the bad news: There is no silver bullet when it comes to raising up generous givers. If your church is struggling financially, there is no quick fix. There is a strong spiritual element connected to our relationship with money…and practically nothing happens quickly in the spiritual world. Even when you first came to faith, for how many years were people praying for you and planting seeds in your life?

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything…just don’t expect an immediate turnaround. First of all, there needs to be the right conditions within the church to grow generous givers. Has leadership proven themselves trustworthy? Do they have a clear idea of where the church needs to go (i.e. their mission)?

The next thing is to give attention to these six areas: 1)Engaging; 2)Inspiring; 3)Teaching; 4)Asking; 5)Thanking; and 6)Reporting. There’s no fixed schedule. All areas need attention…especially the areas where you are weakest. In this webinar, Sheri Meister and I share the principles of each area as well as some practical steps the church can take.

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Charting your church’s success (or failure) with the Chart of Accounts

I am a believer that many churches’ future is determined by their chart of accounts. The chart of accounts shape the church leaderships view of their finances and affect their decisions. A confusing chart of accounts leads to confused decisions. I know there are many exceptions, but the chart of accounts is one of the hidden forces either helping or harming your decision-making ability.

Sheri Meister (Executive Director of the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation) and I identify three steps in this video to cleaning up your chart of accounts. 1)Cleaning up the old stuff by either chucking it or renaming it; 2)Making sure every account has an owner; and 3)Using the roll-up (sub-account) abilities of your accounting system. Do these things, and you will greatly help your leadership in making good decisions.

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The Art of the Ask

The Finance Committee is often the least appreciated committee in the church. Pastors and program staff/committees complain because the Finance Committee is always quick to raise concerns. But here’s the deal, the Finance Committee is like the brakes, and the Programs/Pastors are like the gas pedal. Just try driving a car without a brake AND gas pedal.

For people going onto the Finance Committee, they need to have a strong understanding of the church’s vision. That should be the primary qualification…not banking or accounting experience. The Finance Committee should also have goals for how they are helping the church fulfill that vision.

Sheri Meister and I walk through ideas on how to make your church’s Finance Committee beloved instead of berated.

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