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Why Should You Use Buying Groups?
By: Michael G. Silver

First you should understand what a buying group is. Some have been referred to as buying groups, GPOs, purchasing groups, and group purchasing organizations. Most of these purchasing groups started in healthcare industry back in the 70s and 80s. Others have sprung up to help specific industries, such as furniture resellers, carpet and flooring companies, and other specialty businesses. 

The average church probably spends about $2,500 a year in office supplies. You can purchase on your own with your own buying power and get the best deal you can. But most churches are just buying retail with a coupon or rewards here and there. By being part of a buying group, you can save 30-40% on office supplies overall. So, for a typical church, you will save $750-$1,000 per year that you can use to help hurting families, feed poor people, or give your pastor a raise. Which is a better use of your funds?

Many buying groups donít just cover office supplies; they also can help your church with electricity, food, propane, furniture, building supplies, maintenance equipment, copiers, merchant services, LED lighting, and many more products. Our buying group can typically save organizations 4-7% of their budget or more. So, if your budget is $1,000,000, we can save you $40,000 to $70,000 each year going forward. Could that money equate to a youth pastor?

A small rural church in Mississippi buys 3000 gallons of propane each year, and we saved them about $1 per gallon, which totaled over $3,000 of savings each year. Their mission is to feed poor people in their community. They now have $3,000 more to feed poor people in their community every year. Do you think that this level of stewardship is honoring to God?

Here is another example. We did a food comparison for a church in Georgia, and we could save them 20% on their $100,000 of food spend over another purchasing group program. They did not want to change vendors and have $20,000 more in their budget every year for the next 20 years.  Do you think God will bless their church for this decision?

I really like to make things simple. We can go to Staples and buy a 10í USB cable to hook up our printer to our computer. At Staples, these cables are $39.99, or you can go to Walmart and buy one similar for $22.47, or you can buy one from Staples for $3.80 (this is not a misprint) through a buying group and have it delivered to your doorstep. What is the best choice? What is most wise? That is what buying groups do for you. They give you buying power you donít have on your own.

Mathew 25:19-29 gives the account of how we will be judged by God for how we have managed His resources. I would not want to be in front of Jesus and say, ďI could have fed 20,000 meals to the poor every year for 20 years, but I was afraid of change.Ē I know God is fair and just and he loves us, but he will also be the final judge.

Over the years, I can tell you I have seen churches and ministries make poor decisions and other ones make bad decisions. Is your organization managing Godís resources wisely? Most of these organizations make poor decisions because they are unwilling to look at new things, because of pride or not willing change their ways. We are all sinners and need to turn away from our sin.

Back in 1980, when I was 15 years old, my church and another church decided to get together and merge because our churches average age was 65, we had a $2,000,000 endowment, and the other church had a younger congregation and was hurting financially. Their church was about 100 years newer than our church, so we relocated to their church. They quickly sold the old church for $500,000; two months later, the church sold for $700,000; and six months later, the church sold for $1,200,000. Sounds like trustees who were making decisions were not informed of the real value of the church. Were they good stewards? The leaders of the church decided that the organ in the old church was better than the organ in the new church, so the church paid $250,000 to move the organ from the old church to the new church. The other $250,000 that was left after moving the organ was just squandered away. Do you think that the trustees responsible for these decisions will be held accountable?

The average church attendee in the United States gives about 2.3% of their income to the church.  If everyone that goes to church gave 10% of their income, there would be a surplus of $180,000,000,000.  If churches gave one third of that surplus to feed the poor, there would not be a person in the world that would go hungry tonight. How will we be responsible for squandering the 2.3% on things like office supplies, electricity, food, and propane?

Michael G. Silver is president and chief executive officer of The Buying Networks, LLC, Christian Buying Network, www.cbn.us.

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