Church budgets are one of the aspects of running an organization that does not come naturally, or may be one of those tasks that someone becomes quite daunting and overwhelming. But never fear! Despite diminishing budgets that have become all too common for churches of any size, making a budget is a great way to maximize the resources your community does have without having to sacrifice much-needed essentials. There are a few factors to keep in mind when crafting your budget that can really help to stretch the dollars you have.
First, figure out exactly what your mission is. Spend some time thinking about your vision and what is really important. You need to have priorities before you can make hard decisions as to what is not a priority. The way your church spends its money is driven by your overarching goals as much as it is driven by your day-to-day goals. By making choices about your vision and goals, you’re declaring your principles and showing your community members what you feel is most important.
Second, try to cut costs where you can! This advice may sound simple, but it really is not. Every church leader in history has wished that there was more money or resources to get everything they wanted for the church, but such a situation rarely seems to exist in the real world. The difference is that by setting priorities, you can cut costs on the things that are not priority amongst your goals, and spend more money on those that are. Saving money is especially important for churches that don’t have a plan in place for financial hardship. The threat of such hardship is always on the horizon, so be sure to budget in an emergency fund, no matter how tight things get! Also, be sure to look for deals when you can see them. If given the option, always pay yearly for services you know are going to be crucial. This is a great way to save hundreds per month.
Try to use volunteers when possible. Many church members would be glad to give back if they’re presented with a task for which they are capable. Even web design can be handled by an untrained volunteer these days, with many simple tools that are easily learned. Don’t bother with print or paid advertising. Word of mouth, both online and in person are the best way to attract members to your community.
Don’t forget that generosity should be part of any church’s budget. Make sure that your volunteers and staff members are accounted for. You don’t want to be too stingy when budgeting and leave out those members of your community whose roles are most crucial.
Finally, make sure you find ways to increase your income. Instead of just letting it stagnate, make sure that you are maximizing your opportunities for revenue. For example, online tithing is shown to be much more effective than simply passing a hat on Sundays. Many church members can’t make it every week, and more still don’t even carry cash in the age of credit and debit cards. Accepting online tithing and donations is a surefire way to increase your income without having to increase the burden on the community. If you take these factors into account, and carefully manage your finances, it truly is possible to do more with less. The tools to improve your community are often right at your fingertips.