The first stock gift I ever received as a church treasurer was several shares of Coca-Cola Company stock from a wonderful member named Char. Char wasn’t a multi-millionaire. She was just like so many ordinary people that happen to own stocks, bonds, or shares of a mutual fund. You don’t need to have a Bill Gates in your church to receive a stock gift. Ordinary people make these extraordinary gifts each year. Because of Char’s example, I actually made my own stock gift a few years later to support the church’s capital campaign.
I was fortunate enough to have David Nash (a financial guru) to guide me on receiving this gift. Not every church will have a David Nash. You don’t need special knowledge to accept a stock gift. You just need the right connections. If you are a United Methodist in the Dakotas, the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation is your David Nash.
Normally I aim for helping church finance committees, pastors, and other leadership. With this pandemic, a lot of energy has gone towards helping the church as a small business, but what about the church as a group of individuals? If you go to long without considering the well-being of the individual, the church is going to struggle.
While there’s a ton in the CARES Act to benefit folks, I see three that are probably the biggest ones directed to individuals. Most of this is with the United Methodist pastor in mind, but they definitely do apply more broadly.
Many churches recently applied for the Paycheck Protection Program through the Small Business Administration (SBA). It’s all well and good to receive those funds, but will you receive forgiveness from the SBA? The forgiveness will depend on your churches ability to properly track expenses related to this program.
I used to be an auditor for the State of North Dakota. The government isn’t too forgiving when you don’t follow their rules. If you don’t watch the video, here’s my key advice: Read the loan agreement and take notes. I know we usually don’t read those long documents, but this pain could save you from a whole lot more future pain.
A lot of businesses are struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. Many people are staying home…either out of work or working remotely? This is a perfect opportunity for one business to flourish…the Email Scammer. Think about it. How many more emails are we sending to the people we work with? How many us are used to conducting business like this? How many of us are a little panicked or on edge? This is a perfect storm for email scammers. Here’s some helpful hints:
Check the email address: Depending on the scammer, sometimes the incoming email address looks fine, but when you reply, it’ll reply to a different email address.
Does the email sound right: While scammers can make an email look like it’s coming from the person in charge, they can’t impersonate the tone. Does it sound like the Pastor or the Boss? Does it have their regular email signature?
Text or call to confirm: If something looks fishy, but you still aren’t sure, instead of emailing back, give them a quick text or phone call.
Below is a video where I document an attempted email scam. After seeing a TED Talk by James Veitch where he messes with email scammers, I decided to have some fun too. I figure that if I’m wasting the scammers time, he’s not ruining anyone else’s finances. Someone was pretending to be my co-worker Sheri so I played along. I’m not recommending you do this with any scammer.
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.
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:
Have your church leadership (Trustees, Finance Committee, Admin Council) approve applying for the PPP Loan.
Fill out the application (link below).
See if your bank does SBA loans for this program. If not, find a bank or credit union that does.
Bring application and supporting materials in.
Get approval…and money.
Track carefully how loan money is spent over next 8 weeks.
Submit documentation to get all or most of loan forgiven.
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.