Should my church apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?

Last week the question was: How can churches apply? That was my first thought as I heard stories of churches struggling with the restriction about meeting together as a result of COVID-19. Three days later I started getting the question: Should my church apply for government relief? That’s a good question, and probably a question I should have asked first.

Honestly, I’m a little biased towards churches applying for the Paycheck Protection Program. From what I’ve read and seen, if your church is struggling as a result of this pandemic, it seems like a good thing to apply. There are valid concerns that need to be addressed about whether or not to apply. Hopefully this video helps flesh those out without being too biased.

Check out the video below:


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How churches can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program and is run through the Small Business Administration (SBA). All the guidance I have at this point makes me believe this applies to churches…many of whom are struggling financially because of the pandemic. There seem to be very few strings attached…you just need to be struggling financially because of the pandemic. If you are a church with any employees and have seen a large drop in offerings recently, you should consider applying.

The video will walk you through it better than I can write, but here’s the gist of what you need to do:

  1. Have your church leadership (Trustees, Finance Committee, Admin Council) approve applying for the PPP Loan.
  2. Fill out the application (link below).
  3. See if your bank does SBA loans for this program. If not, find a bank or credit union that does.
  4. Bring application and supporting materials in.
  5. Get approval…and money.
  6. Track carefully how loan money is spent over next 8 weeks.
  7. Submit documentation to get all or most of loan forgiven.

Check out the video below:


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How do I setup my church to receive Facebook Donations?

The first concern of our churches during the Coronavirus Pandemic was: How do we connect with people now that we can’t worship in person? In the first two weeks, most of our churches quickly adopted Facebook Live or YouTube if they didn’t have anything before. Many of them greatly beefed up their online offering. It was truly remarkable to see how churches stepped up to the challenge of how to get the message out to the people.

The next concern: How do we allow people to financially support the church when we can’t worship in person? Some of our churches had electronic giving, but many did not. I was able to guide churches through setting up electronic giving through Vanco, but Facebook Donate seemed like a good solution too. I’d see Spirit of Faith in Woonsocket do this, but I had no experience.

Below you can watch the video on how to set your church up with Facebook to receive donations. Facebook covers 100% of any fees. Some drawbacks are that you can’t do recurring giving and Facebook is pretty rigorous in vetting charities so you need to have your paperwork in order.

Check out the video below:


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Donated Services and the Church

A number of years ago, I received a call from a pastor who just had someone volunteer to do some painting for the church. After the job was done, the volunteer asked for a gift receipt because they actually ran a painting business. The gift of service is so priceless that the IRS won’t let you assign a value to it.

So…what do you say to the volunteer that was expecting a gift receipt? How do you handle that situation?

Check out the video below:


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Does the Church need a Car?

About a decade ago, Elmer Brinkman basically donated his 1998 Toyota Corolla to the Conference. That was our first fleet vehicle. I knew it would save us a ton of money. Before this, we reimbursed mileage at the IRS rate whenever someone had to travel for work. I was so proud of it, I actually put in gold letters “Elmer” on the back of this vehicle. Because of this donated car, my travel costs went way down so that I could afford to travel more. I saved $15,000 over four years!

I have often wondered if this would work for one of our rural parishes. If you have a pastor serving two or three churches, could you save the church $3 – 4,000/year in mileage? I love the idea so I’m sharing it in hopes that it will help someone.

Check out the video below:


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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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Donating Farmland to the Church

In the Dakotas, many of our churches are connected to agriculture. We have members that our farmers, retired farmers, and/or children who inherited farmland from their folks. The scary thing about farmland transactions is the tax basis. Most farmland has been held for decades so the tax basis could easily be $100/acre or less. If you sell that land, you’ll have to pay capital gains on all the gain over those decades.

If you have people in your church that are considering cashing out of the farm or maybe they don’t have a next generation willing or able to take over the farm, they may be wanting to donate that land to the church. You would be surprised by how many churches have received a quarter of farmland that is now a huge benefit to their current ministry.

Check out the video below:


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