Five New Year Budgeting Ideas to Save Your Church Money
Start with prayer. Ask God to guide your team through the budgeting process and for the wisdom to make the best decisions for Christ’s local church.
With the worst downturn that many people have seen in their lifetime many churches are being forced to make some difficult reductions in their expenses. The place to start is by creating a realistic projection of what your giving will be for the next year. It is important to be realistic with this number because your total income will drive what reductions need to be made in the church expenses. If anything you want to have a little more income than projected. Once you have a good estimate of income the amount expenses must be reduced will become clear.
1) Review debt for possible reductions in rates.
The economic downturn has created favorable interest rates and if your church has debt now is a good time to explore the possibility of refinancing the debt at a lower rate. Competition between banks for good loans has created a borrowers market for grade A borrowers. Grade A borrowers typically have more income than expenses, a loan to value below 80% and are growing. If you would like more information on what banks look for when they consider making a church loan please contact me by email and I will be glad to send you this information. firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Review every expense line for expenses that can be reduced or eliminated.
These items may not make a big difference but are a good place to start and will enable your team to say that every area was examined during the budget review process.
3) Examine Ministry Budgets
Are there any ministries that do not align with the vision of the church? Recently I listened (twice) to the excellent book Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels and I must give him credit for this idea. I recommend this book.
4) Use the Internet to Save Money
Check out SaveYourChurchMoney.com and search the Internet for other strategies to save your church money. Does your church accept gifts online? Does your online giving provider accept recurring gifts so the church receives the offering whether or not the giver attends? If your church has an electronic giving service how do their prices compare to other services available? Could you save a significant amount of money by switching companies?
5) Review Staffing
This is the hardest area because we are talking about people that you know and care about losing their jobs. It is also the expense area with the most potential for savings.
Staffing is usually the largest expense for churches. I recommend that the Lead Pastor pull together a team to review the current staffing needs of the church and look for ways to: outsource staff positions that will not necessarily directly impact your ministry, replace paid staff with volunteers, and eliminate staff positions and divide the workload between the remaining staff. I believe the Lead Pastor of the church must lead this team and difficult decisions will need to be prayerfully made. Through this process it is important to remember that the church staff remaining should be paid a fair wage because they will be carrying a larger load. Good church staff is hard to find and more expensive to replace than to keep. For strategies on how to implement a staff reduction I recommend How to Trim the Sails on Your Church Budget by Dick Hardy.
I don’t claim to have all the answers and hope that you are able to use at least one of the five ideas mentioned to save your church money in the budgeting process. I believe that God will guide you and your team through this process if you ask him to and that your team should continue to pray for the wisdom to make adjustments to your plan as needed.
Please post any ideas that have helped your church to save money for the benefit of all who may read this.