Monday, October 26, 2009

Financial Leadership Mistakes Churches Make

  • Low Expectations of members - Are people living up to our low expectations? How high do churches set the bar or are we just too scared that people will go away? In reality, people are more willing to live up to higher standards if they know what they are.
    o Set the bar as high as God sets the bar. To do less is to undermine God.
  • Low Teaching by leadership of biblical financial principles - Many church leaders are scared to talk about money because they don't know how to. They don't know how to talk about money because they're scared to talk about it. They've got to get off the merry-go-round. Find a God-model for your talk on biblical financial principles – “just because the church needs it” or “because tithing is biblical” is not sufficient.
    o Make biblical financial teaching a regular practice. As with all habits, once you do it enough, you’ll get used to it and do it regularly. However, get a God-model to challenge your members.
  • Low Accountability of church leaders (both paid and volunteer) - Who holds church leaders accountable for what they spend and how they spend it? Do those expenses advance the Kingdom or are they just frivolous spending?
    o Can church members get a copy of the church's monthly financial statements without hassles? If your church's checkbook were posted online, would you be embarrassed at any expenses? Did they spend church money wisely? I have a saying that church money should work hard twice - once when the donor earns it and again when the church spends that money.
  • Low Transparency of church finances - Do churches have fuzzy numbers? A church’s monthly financial statements should be in a readily accessible place and questions should be answered clearly and completely.
    o Make your financial statement accessible. Answer all financial questions to the satisfaction of the person asking the questions.
  • Low Leadership and Management – Leadership is guiding the church toward a vision that captures most people’s imagination and gets them on board the ship. Management is ensuring that you have the right people in the right places on the ship and rowing in the same direction. Leadership is about positions; management is about people.
    o Every five years do strategic planning so that you know what positions your church needs in order to accomplish its mission and vision.
    o Then, find the right people to put into those positions even if it means letting go of some great staff. If they can’t lead the church in its strategic plan, then help them move on so that your church can move forward.
    o This means that every few years you’re going to kill some neat programs that no longer fit into the church’s mission and vision and you’re going to let go of some fine friends and colleagues. But you’re the leader of the church – decide what is most critical to the future of the church – its mission or keeping people and programs that distract from the main thing.
Lead On!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Email to a Colleague at my Church

I thought I'd share an email to a fellow minister. My goal is to get ministers and members to think "outside the financial box" and think if new ways to get money for church needs, especially capital needs.

For a couple months I’ve heard you all getting info about new drop down backboards for the gym. The latest figures I have are costs in the $24K range which is way out of anyone’s budget and designated funds. That got me to thinking about asking the Upwards parents if they would be willing to make a gift or contribution to this project.

In my years as a church administrator, there have been countless times when people wanted to make a gift and asked me what are some pressing needs. My experience is that people want to give back to a ministry or the church that has blessed them or helped them. Unfortunately, the church too often feels that “we can only do it if we pay for it” or “that’s rude to ask people for money.” Both of those concepts are wrong – we shortchange people when we don’t give them the opportunity to give. People want to return the favor, we just need to be open to it, especially to be open to new ways of paying for the church’s needs. Having been in church business for my entire life, I can see a distinct pattern downward in the typical way of funding church – the offering plate is drying up.

I’ve been in multiple conversations with members of the church’s financial leadership team, Ministry Coordination Council members, and the senior pastor on the subject of developing new streams of revenue for the church. The senior pastor asked an MCC member and me to make a presentation to MCC in November on the why and how of new revenue streams. This is a subject that is gaining importance and visibility within our own church.

The Minister of Recreation and I partnered recently on a basketball camp that was a tremendous success and we split the revenue – some for the Rec Ministry and some for the building maintenance (to fix holes in the walls from “stray” basketballs). This is a great model for how we can move forward to fund needs of various ministries and the buildings. I would like to propose that you consider yet another stream of revenue to help meet a need of the Rec Ministry – the backboards.

The idea is that for two of your eight Saturdays during the Upward games, you will distribute a half sheet of paper with the message below. The message is not threatening or guilt-inducing. Instead is makes known a need and gives people the opportunity to respond if they want to. It tells them how they can help a ministry of the church and thanks them for letting us be a part of their life. This is not a solicitation (which our church’s by-laws won’t let you do), it gives people an chance to respond. I truly believe that it is right, ethical, and scriptural to give people the chance to express their gratitude without any form of compulsion. To not give people a chance to give is to limit people and God.

In future years (or even this year), I can easily see the gift request during Upward to be for ministry opportunities in a church in Richmond, or with one of our foreign mission partners, or another recreation oriented need beyond our walls. Perhaps alternating years (between our church and another need) or even doing a split offering in the same year for two separate needs? There are many opportunities and tremendous needs out there – the real question is how can we think creatively to help meet these needs.

Will the Rec Ministry be willing to distribute this message below to its parents? Who knows what God will do through this. Thank you.

New Basketball BackboardsThe Recreation Ministry would like to install four new basketball backboard so that future Upward Basketball seasons can have better equipment. These goals will hang from the ceiling and replace our aging and hard to move floor level goals. Each new backboard costs about $6,000 or $24,000 for the entire project.

Gifts to this project are being accepted by Recreation Ministry if you would like to help. Checks can be made payable to the church and write “basketball backboards” in the memo line and given to a staff member. These tax-deductible donations are not required – it is our joy and privilege to have your child in the Upward program. Thank you for entrusting us with your most precious gift. We hope you and your family have enjoyed it and we hope to see you next year.

Lead On!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Six Generations In Church - Part 2

The trend is for each successive generation to want to be more actively involved and see tangible results. They want control over when, where, and how each dollar is spent. Younger generations want to know, see and touch where their monies are go AND they want their monies to go to causes that change lives in direct, tangible ways. Several secular non-profits are successfully reaching younger generations who feel they can (and must) “save the world.” The questions for today’s church are:
  • Remove Roadblocks
    o How does the church change its governance, bylaws, and policies to facilitate giving?
    o How does the church develop new channels and methods of giving that are in line with younger generations’ patterns?
  • Tell Your Story
    o How does the church communicate (using Websites, social networking, and even printed media) its programming opportunities and building needs in ways that appeal to younger adults?
    o How does the church encourage financial support from non-members and non-attendees who believe in our causes?
  • Be Creative
    o How does the church (ministers and members) change its mindset from funding programs and activities through the annual budget to each one being self-funding?
    o How does the church expand the types of revenue streams so that we have a diversified portfolio and are less vulnerable to risk? See “The Baker’s Dozen.
The Baker’s Dozen – Ways to Increase Church Income
1. Undesignated Gifts
2. Wills, bequests and planned giving
3. Grants and foundations
4. Endowments, reserves, investments, and interest income
5. Fees for service
6. Rental income
7. Event registration
8. Cost recovery
9. Special offerings
10. Capital campaigns
11. Designated gifts
12. Sale of materials or resources
13. In-kind services

Lead On!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Six Generations in Church - part 1

Due to increased longevity of our populations, churches have six generations alive at the same time and actively involved. Churches must deal with six different attitudes toward architecture, furniture, expectations of staff, worship styles, what to wear to church, giving, going “green” at church, etc. All churches face this logistical nightmare. As this generational shift relates to giving, there is a chasm between the mindsets of younger and older generations. Whereas the oldest generation is known for giving to appeals, Generation Y prefers to give to causes.
  • GI Generation (1901-1924)
    o They are trying not to outlive their money
    o They prefer to give to institutions
    o They have very high trust levels of institutions and organizations
    o They are the Greatest Generation that fought World War II
  • Silent Generation (1925-1945)
    o They are trying not to outlive their money
    o They like to give to institutions
    o They have high trust levels of institutions
    o They grew up in the shadow of World War II and the prosperity of the 1950s
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
    o They are in their peak giving years
    o The like giving to designated funds and causes
    o They trust organizations moderately
    o They grew up during the 1960s and Watergate
  • Baby Busters (1965-1983)
    o They are beginning to be major givers
    o They really like designated giving
    o They have low trust levels of government and organizations
    o They grew up during Iran-Contra, Jim Bakker and PTL, and plenty of other scandals
  • Gen Y or Millennials (1984-2002)
    o They are just beginning to give
    o They prefer to give designated gifts
    o They have low or no trust levels of organizations
    o They grew up with the Web and know they have access to anything and everything
  • Gen Z or iGeneration (2003- )
    o They are too young to have a view on giving right now
    o They will probably give significantly to designated causes
Lead On!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Money-Saving Tips

Flourescent Lights
  • Change your incandescent lights to compact flourscent bulbs and remove all incandescent lights (except those you need for formal rooms with lamps).
  • Change your flourescent tubes from T-12 to T-8. T-8 tubes use 30% less power but put out as much or more light as T-12 tubes.
Motion Sensors
  • Install motion sensors which turn on lights when people walk into a room or down a hallway. While these motion sensors do cost to install, they will pay for themselves within a year or two.
  • If you need to phase in the motion sensors due to the cost of installation, start with hallways, then go to closets and bathroooms (where people frequently forget to turn off lights), and then go to classrooms and offices.
Lead On!