Six Keys to Increase Church Giving in 2022

Six Keys to Increase Church Giving in 2022

The Challenge of Pastoral Ministry in 2022

Life is busy. The list of things that need to get done continues to grow. Sometimes it seems like there are never enough hours in a day. And let’s be honest, you’d love to bring on another staff person, but it seems the finances just aren’t there to support it. You feel stuck.

Sound familiar? This is a common sentiment among pastors I’ve talked with.

But what if, instead of spinning your wheels and trying to do it all yourself, you took a step back and focused on a few simple, specific actions to boost giving at your church?

Sometimes when we’re in the middle of a difficult season and we feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all, we don’t have the brain capacity to step back and get perspective and think about the problem differently.

But what if was possible to bring on another staff person, or at least a part-time support person to help carry the load? What if this next season could be about helping you AND your church experience life, and health, and growth?

Are There Ways to Increase Giving At Your Church?

Here’s the thing. I know that God wants to do great things in and through the life of your church.  I also know that that means you need to lead your church well – from a place of rest, not a place of burnout. So, first take a minute to stop and breathe.

And then let’s talk about how to increase giving at your church. Because the solution to your exhaustion might just be sharing the need with your congregation. 

Here are six simple actions you can take to foster generosity and increase donations in your church this year:

1. Begin with prayer

I know this feels a little cliche, but sometimes we get so caught up in our to-do lists and routines that we forget to really connect with God through prayer.

This is the foundation for our ability to lead from a healthy place and grow a healthy church, so spend a moment examining your own prayer life. What does it look like? Is it full of life or stuck in a rut? What kind of example are you setting for your congregation? And are you calling your people to prayer?

When we pray, God listens. Every other thing we do won’t really matter, if we aren’t prioritizing this spiritual practice. 

2. Establish A Vision-Centered Budget

According to the CAF-USA-2019 Giving Report47% of givers would donate more if they knew how their money would be spent.

I say this a lot, but a budget really does build trust in giving.

Your church members want to know that the money they are faithfully giving is going to make a difference. This means first of all having a budget in place. But it also means that the generosity of your church is impacted by how much your budget is mission-focused and vision-centered. 
 
If your budget simply exists to keep the lights of the building on, that’s not very compelling. But if part of your budget is going to make an impact in the lives of others, that’s something that people can get excited about being a part of. 

3. Share the vision

While the very act of having a budget builds trust in giving, and having a vision-centered budget furthers that trust, to truly build excitement, you need to share the vision.

People give to a cause they believe in and feel a part of. God wants cheerful givers, and so do you. When you share the vision on a regular basis, you help people own that vision and get excited about being a part of it.

As Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” If you’re struggling to share the vision of your church or you realize you’re lacking a vision, we have a free resource to help you get clear on what the specific mission and vision of your church is. You can download your free guide here.

4. Celebrate Stories

We are a story-based culture. Stories connect with people and provide clarity. Stories stay with us and stick in our brains.

What does this mean for you and for your church?

 Continually share stories that illustrate what God is doing in and through the generosity of your church. If you have the capability, record video testimonials that showcase God at work! Or invite people on the stage to share how the resources of th church are being used to impact lives.  

5. CALL PEOPLE TO ACTION

This is another important tip pastors need to take to heart.

No, you don’t need to sound salesy. But you do need to call people to action. Bodies at rest, tend to stay at rest. People tend to continue to do what they’ve always done – unless an outside force calls them to something more.

When we are not bold in calling people to give, we communicate a lack of belief in the importance of giving. You help people grow in their faith and in experiencing the blessings of God in their lives when you call people to take action.

6. Make Giving Simple and easy to do

This is also a tip based on human nature. If something is difficult to do, or requires too much time, fewer people will do it. For example, consider creating a two-question survey. You will get more responses than if you asked people to fill out a 20-question survey. 

The same is true for giving at your church. If it is too difficult or takes too much effort, people won’t do it.

Fewer and fewer people carry cash or checks these days. I’m not advocating that you stop passing the plate on Sunday mornings, but it is vital that you think about how to make giving simple and easy to do. Online giving, text-to-give and recurring donations are all ways to make giving simple and painless for your people.

How Do I Set Up Online Giving For My Church?

If you need help making giving simple and accessible, Simplify Give offers the convenience of online giving, with free text-to-give, no monthly usage fees and simple, affordable rates.

What Will The Rest of 2022 Look Like In Your Church?

Only God knows what is in store for your church in the coming months.

But my prayer is that by taking a few simple steps, you are able to lead your church to experience greater generosity, financial health and future growth…AND at the same time reduce the amount of stress in your life.

At Simplify Church, we provide financial guidance and support to help pastors and churches thrive. We’ve helped hundreds of small and growing churches optimize their church finances, and we’d love to do the same for you.

How to Build A Post-Pandemic Church Budget

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Building Your Annual Church Budget in a Post-Pandemic World

Before we get too far, I completely understand that the pandemic is officially not over.  I realize that our world is still in a state of confusion and no one really seems to know what’s going on or what will happen next. It unfortunately seems that we’re at a point where we’ve never been more divided as a country. Regardless of your stance on the current issues, I’m sure we can all agree that things are a little bit chaotic right now.

You’re probably experiencing that chaos first hand as you try to continue to lead your local church and meet the needs of people in your congregation and community in these unprecedented times.

If you’re like most pastors, you may feel like you’re hanging on by just a thin thread, but rest assured, your efforts are for a far greater purpose than we see right now.

It's Time to Build Your Annual Church Budget

As we head into a new year (can you believe it?!), it’s time that we discuss your church’s budget for the upcoming calendar year.

In 2021, the finances and financial accounts of many churches were unpredictable to say the least. Your church might have experienced this. And because of this unpredictability, you might be thinking that you have no idea how to budget for 2022 based off the current year.

Here are some considerations to help you start planning for your 2022 church budget.

Assess the Current State of Your Church Budget

In our Church Budget Blueprint Course, one of the first steps we discuss for planning your budget is that you need to know where you are. If you’re looking for directions on your phone, it will always ask you to choose a starting location. It’s virtually impossible to give directions if you don’t know the starting point.

The same is true for budgeting. Because your budget is a plan, it is really hard to chart a course if you don’t know where you’re starting from.

How To Review Your CURRENT Church Budget

Begin by taking a look at this year’s financial reports. While the church finances may have been all over the place, you should be able to get some information about the current financial status of your church.

What do your financial numbers tell you? Has church giving increased, decreased or stayed roughly the same versus last year?

There are a lot of churches that look vastly different than they did in February of 2020.  After months of virtual church services, many congregations are seeing fewer attendees than they did before everything started. At the same time, there are many churches that are seeing new people that they didn’t have prior to the pandemic. By being forced to do ministry differently, many churches are seeing people that may not have otherwise stepped foot inside a church and that is a good thing.

In order to know where to go from here, though, you’ll need to get honest about your current situation.

What questions do you need to ask?

What does your attendance currently look like? Are you seeing the same number of regular attenders each week? Are you seeing the same number of visitors? If you are still offering virtual services, how many people tune into these services regularly? 

What does church giving look like? Do you know your giving per unit and giving per capita?  These two metrics will help assess the health of your church giving. 

Along with church giving, what is your average weekly and monthly amount?  How do those compare to previous years?  

Without a good understanding of these numbers, it will be difficult to accurately plan for the future.  

To be honest, the last 6-9 months are probably a good indicator for your new reality moving forward.  While uncertainty still exists, we must realize that many people have established a new normal for themselves, and decided how they will live and what level of socialization they are comfortable with, at least for the foreseeable future. The people showing up on Sunday mornings and those participating in giving right now are probably the ones you can count on moving forward.

How to Draft a New Church Budget

Now that you know your numbers, and have some understanding of where you are, we can begin to formulate a plan to move forward into 2022.

As you develop your budget, take the numbers you found from the past 6-9 months and use those as a baseline for projected giving trend moving forward. Then take a look at your spending and expenses over that same time period. Is your spending in check or are you spending more than you are bringing in? Do you need to make some adjustments?

Finally, think through what you want for your church in the year ahead. What vision do you have for your congregation? Does your projected spending and budget allocations help move you towards that vision?

Be prepared to drastically change your budget if necessary. Don’t allow yourself to get so tied in how things were done in the past that you neglect an opportunity to pivot. One thing pastors and church leaders have learned over the past few months is how lean some ministries can be. We’ve also had the opportunity to get clear and prioritize what really matters. Perhaps there are some areas of ministry that you don’t need to fund or prioritize moving forward.

Once you’ve thought through these important questions, formulate a church budget plan that will guide you and your church in 2022.

Can you adjust your budget Mid-year?

The great news is that your church budget isn’t set in stone. It is a plan, not a legally binding document. The plan you put in place now can be adjusted as you move forward.  While it’s not something you want to adjust haphazardly or randomly, you should do a quarterly and semi-annual review of your church budget to determine if the plan you put in place is matching up with your current reality.

What if you need help with your church budget?

If church financial planning or developing your church budget is causing you stress, don’t hesitate to ask for help and guidance!
One thing that became evident during the pandemic is that pastors need pastors. Let me suggest two opportunities for you as we head full speed into the new year.

First, if you know you need help, schedule a free discovery call with us. We will talk with you about church financial support options for your church and help you decide what is best for your church. Getting financial help is way more affordable than you think!

Second, consider joining our FB group for pastors we call Oasis. Be connected with other pastors who know what you’re experiencing and are open to real discussions about the joys and hassles of being a pastor. You can be real with us without fear of losing your “pastor card.” 

Regardless of your next steps, be sure to take the time now to plan for 2022.  How you plan now will determine the trajectory of ministry going into the new year. One thing is certain, time will continue moving forward. It’s up to you to determine what you do with what you have been entrusted with. The old adage is still true, people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. While plans are never a guarantee of success, and you may need to make some pivots along the way, you will never get to where you want to go without a plan in place.

Here’s to building a great church budget plan and seeing your church thrive in 2022!

Church Budgeting 101

How to set up and audit your church budget

For many church leaders, the thought of building out a church budget can feel overwhelming. Maybe your church doesn’t currently have a budget. Perhaps you’re preparing to launch a new church plant or build a new building. Or maybe you just aren’t confident that your current church budget is working for you.

The good news is that building a church budget doesn’t have to be complicated. A budget is nothing more than a guide: A roadmap to how the church will allocate the resources they have been entrusted with in the upcoming year. In the next few minutes, I’ll walk you through the basics of building a church budget.

Why your church needs a budget

Once you learn how to create and maintain a budget that works for your church, you’ll discover that it’s an indespensible part of your ministry.

Don’t believe me? Here are a few things a well-defined budget can do for your church:

  • Answer questions about the mission and vision of your church
  • Set clear direction on how money will be spent and where the priorities of the church reside
  • Provide a filter for making spending decisions that may come up throughout the year
  • Offer a measure and benchmark to track the financial health of the organization
  • Set a standard to reflect and review throughout the year to make future ministry decisions

Getting started: Types of budgets

Most churches build a budget in one of two ways: 

  • Zero-based budgeting – What goes in, goes out

With this concept, you plan to spend everything you receive. Developing a budget is as simple as making an income projection, and then making a plan to spend the money that is received. 

  • P&L Budgeting – Plan to lose or plan to gain

Since we’re talking about churches, we can’t really talk in the true business sense of “profit and loss.” However, we can talk about planning for a loss or planning for a gain in a given year. Just because a church balance statement shows an excess (profit) at the end of the year, doesn’t mean the church is no longer a non-profit entity

Note: The danger with P&L budgeting is planning for a loss without a plan to cover. You can lose money on paper and still have cash flow. You might have money in reserves, investments, etc. However, you should always be aware of how much you are spending. Remember, a budget is NOT the same thing as a balance sheet. 

Budgeting basics: Income

The easiest way to start building your budget is to look at projected income. What sources are bringing you money? This includes tithes and offerings, but it could also interest, investments, facility rentals, dues, donations, etc. Once you’ve determined all your income sources, set a projected amount for each source. 

Are you on a growth track? If your organization has been around for a few years, hopefully you have some historical data to look at. Is your income trending up, down or staying stagnant?  

PRO TIP: If you haven’t jumped on board with mobile giving, now is the time. This is by far the easiest way to increase your income. According to Nonprofitssource (2018), “Churches that accept tithing online increase overall donations by 32%”

Budgeting basics: Expenses

Now that you’ve projected your income for the year, let’s look at common expenses. As I stated earlier, a budget can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. As your ministry develops and grows, the number of expense categories will also grow. 

Especially if you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to think about things in terms of “buckets.” What is the mission of your church? How can that mission be broken out into broad categories or “expense buckets”?

For this simple exercise, let’s start with three “buckets”:

GROW (Inside Church)

  • Ministries (children, youth, adults, worship, etc.)

GO (Outside Church)

  • Local Outreach (evangelism, events, etc.)
  • Missions 

OPERATIONS 

  • Personnel (salaries, benefits, etc.)
  • Administration (operating expenses)
  • Facilities and Equipment (maintenance, utilities, insurance, etc.)

Once you’ve established your categories, do your best to fill in projected expenses. Again, any historical date you have will help a ton here. 

Now what?

Now compare your projected income with your projected expenses. Do they match? Are there categories that need to be adjusted?

Now ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the budget reflect the church’s priorities?
  • Are there areas where spending needs to be increased? Decreased?
  •  How does this budget align with the church’s growth goals?

Use these questions as a guide to make any necessary adjustments to your budget.

Ask for help when you need it

This is building a church budget in a nutshell. You can absolutely do it. But there are ways to maximize the effectiveness of your budget to help you grow a healthy church. And if budgeting isn’t you’re thing, it’s okay to ask for help. 

Here are a few ways to get the help you need:

  • Download our free 10-step Church Budgeting Checklist. Whether you’re putting together a budget for the first time, or simply looking to improve your budget, this will give you prompts to think through as you create your budget. 
  • If church finances aren’t you’re thing, we’re here to help. Our done-for-you church bookkeeping service will take away the guesswork and overwhelm out of managing your church finances properly. Get accurate monthly reports delivered straight to your inbox and peace of mind that you’re not making a costly financial mistake. Schedule a free demo today

The Procrastinating Pastors Guide to Annual Church Budget Planning

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We published last week the 3 Reasons Your Church Needs an Annual Budget and had some good responses from pastors that agreed, but wondered what were those next steps to getting their annual budget planned.

Today, we’ll give you 6 steps to Annual Church Budget Planning started. From these simple steps, you’ll have most of the framework in place to have an Annual Church Budget you can use for your ministry.

Step 1 – Review Last Year’s Church Budget

One of the best indicators of how you are spending and allocating your spending for your ministry is to look back at the historical patterns. Review this past year as a Profit and Loss statement. It will show you what you took in (income) and what you spent (expenses).

Look for any patterns. Also, look for any areas that have bigger numbers. When you look at yearly spending as a whole, over the entire period of time, you may get some surprises that you didn’t expect once things are put into perspective. Often, we’ll have churches that don’t realize what seemed like a small amount they were spending weekly, when added up over the year actually becomes a bigger percentage of budget than they expected.

Use these findings to decide if there are areas you need to focus or re-think how you’re allocating funds.
“Be honest here. If you’re spending $100 a week on donuts, and throwing out 2-3 dozen every week, it may be time to analyze or help your donut buyer plan better!”

Step 2 – Project your church year end financial

Ok, now we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of planning.

Since we’re not quite complete with the year, we’ll need to do some projecting of how things will end. The good news is if you’re reading this post in late November when it is published, we only have a few weeks left of the year so the projection will not be too hard. However, since you may be reading this at another time, we’ll show you a quick way to project.

Take your YTD Profit and Loss report for your church. This should show you what has been recorded as income and expenses so far this year. If you’re using Quickbooks, or hopefully our Simplify Church Bookkeeping System, this report will be pretty easy to produce.

If you can, export that report to Excel.

Once you have it in Excel, create a formula as follows =SUM (Col # / # of months in report) * 12. It will end up looking something like this: = SUM(B2/11) * 12

On the cell with your formula, grab the little square at the bottom right of the cell. Click and hold as you pull down so that you are highlighting all the way to the last row of the report. This is a quick way to duplicate the Excel formula you just made for all the rows.

What did we just produce?

This new column will be your End of Year projection on how you will finish the year. From this information, you can now start to project your Church Budget for the new year.

Step 3 – Analyze Year End and Plan the New Year

This is where the real planning begins.

Use the information you just produced and begin to think through your next year. I would re-color or highlight any numbers that are going to stay the same in the next year. This may be things like Rent, Subscriptions, Fees and other expenses that you are committed to or are vital to your ministry that you already know you will use in the next year.

PRO TIP : Add numbers into a third column in Excel so you have:
Column 1 – Real numbers produced from your Church Accounting Software
Column 2 – Projection from the equation you created in Step 2
Column 3 – Numbers we’ll enter as we create the next year’s Annual Church Budget

As you review line by line, think about those expenses that made up the numbers. Do they seem high? How does that line contribute to your ministry? Does that expense help you fulfill the Mission and Vision for your church?

Think through the spending of each line with those questions as a filter and use that to analyze what you’ve done so far.

As you complete your review, use Column 3 to put your final numbers for the next year’s church budget.

Step 4 – Get input from your ministry leadership team and key ministry leaders

Once you have a draft of the budget, which should be completed now in Column 3, share it with your ministry leaders. Get their input and thoughts.

If you have a staff, this is a good time to get their input into their ministry area and their plans for the new year. If we had more time, or had started this sooner, we could have had them draft their ministry area and then plan accordingly. Since we’re at crunch time, we can give each leader a primer for their decisions, and let them have input into the process.

Have a discussion with each leader about their area. Ask the same questions you considered in your preparation for the spending in their ministry area. The key here is to accept their input and get “buy in” from them. Let them feel a part of the process and understand why we have a budget, and how important good financial stewardship is to the success of the ministry.

If there are any adjustments that come up here in those discussions, adjust your budget at this point so you have a good, prepared final draft to present for approval.

Step 5 – Begin the preparations necessary to finalize and approve your annual church budget

If your church by-laws or constitution requires it, this is a good time to start scheduling whatever meeting is going to be appropriate for a vote on accepting this as the budget for your ministry.

It may also be required that a draft of the budget is required to have out for review to your membership as well. Get this information out soon as well so that people can be well informed. Having a well-planned and thoughtful budgeting process can help to alleviate some of the unnecessary headaches and drama that so often plagues ministries in this process.

Step 6 – Review the Church Budget Monthly and Quarterly in the New Year

Now that we’ve spent the time to prepare the budget, let’s really put on ministry on fire and use that planning throughout the year.

Each month or at least each quarter, do a review of your income and expenses against your budget.

PRO TIP: Simplify Church Bookkeeping clients get this report each month for a quick and easy review!

As you move throughout the new year, you will now have a financial road map for your church. You will find ministry decisions become easier (from a financial standpoint anyway) as you are able to look at things and plan against you expected annual church budget.

Hopefully you get a chance to start your budgeting process now. I’ve been in your shoes before and know as a pastor you wear many hats. If you’re like most, those hats that seem daunting, or you’re not exactly sure how to complete are the ones that get put on the back burner.

The steps I laid out here can be completed in just an hour or so. The analysis part make take a bit longer but it will only take a short time to get there. If you need some help, advice on your budget or want to get this off your plate completely by using our Simplify Church Bookkeeping System, Schedule a demo today.

Hey! We’re offering a webinar on Wednesday December 7, 2016 where we will go through these steps and I’ll show you exactly the steps I go through to create church budgets. If you’re interested, Register Here!

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It’s time to change the way we talk about giving in church!