By Andy Whaley
For the first time in our lives, churches across the country have had to forego in-person services for several months. Many learned to pivot and reinvent themselves with livestream services and other creative methods to provide a weekly church experience.
Fortunately, most churches stepped up and found new, innovative ways to not just provide worship and a message, but to also meet the growing needs of their communities.
While we don’t yet know what the coming weeks and months will hold for us, I applaud those churches that have recognized the opportunity to be the church in a time of great need.
As churches are starting to open their doors, I recommend the following considerations related to finance and risk management.
- Celebrate and encourage faithful giving.
This is a time to celebrate what the Lord has done through your church during the time of crisis. If you were able to meet the needs of your church members or community during the Stay At Home/Shelter In Place season, share those stories, and remind your congregants that it’s through faithful giving of tithes and offerings that the church has been able to continue ministering to people.
During the announcements in a recent service, I shared that our church was able to meet the immediate needs of several families in the church, and we’ve able to continue supporting all of our missionaries and ministry partners throughout this pandemic.
They were encouraged to know it was because of faithful giving that we were able to continue sowing into ministry around the world. Everyone was so excited to hear that news that they immediately clapped and cheered!
- Adjust your budget for 2020.
In this time of continued market volatility and not being sure what the rest of the year holds, it may be wise to shift from a fixed, annual budget approach to a flexible, month-by-month approach. Focus on your church’s budget one month at a time and review cash flow on a weekly basis.
Monitor things like weekly income, weekly expenses, weekly surplus, and cash on hand. In doing so, you’ll have a detailed view of where things are at, the week-by-week trends, and how to best plan for the following weeks.
By monitoring the financial data on a weekly basis and by being fiscally conservative, your church will be at a healthier place.
- Monitor giving per donor.
Monitoring giving at the donor level is a simple practice, but many churches do not measure this. Start by keeping track of individual giving on a weekly basis. From there, you’ll be able to see giving trends over months and years.
Often the wallet is connected to the level of engagement an individual or family may feel with the church. Did you know that people’s giving often stops 3 to 6 months before they leave the church?
On a macro level, you can view analytics like member vs non-member giving, online giving trends, and geographic data to show you what neighborhoods or towns represent the largest giving. This data is especially helpful when trying to understand how a pandemic has affected giving at various levels.
- Right-size your insurance policy.
Many things have changed for churches in the last several months. In addition to eliminating in-person church services, COVID-19 has forced many church activities to be cancelled, from mission trips to summer events.
While some ministry events may have been cancelled, your church may now be doing new types of outreach based on new needs in the community. Always stay in touch with your insurance agent and ensure your church has appropriate coverages.
- Mitigate risk as the doors open back up.
As you open the doors of the church, it is imperative to take new precautions and measures to manage against risk. Creating a safe place for your church attendees to worship goes well beyond placing hand sanitizer stations in the lobby.
Consider using extra caution with activities for those in higher risk categories – or even temporarily postponing activities.
We’re all in this season together, and we are excited about what the future holds for the church.
Andy Whaley is the senior vice president of marketing for AGFinancial, a faith-based financial institution that supports churches and ministries through insurance, risk management, lending, investments, retirement, and planned giving, www.agfinancial.com.