Mark Brooks

Seven Sundays In, How is Giving?

Six weeks into the New Year and a church reaches out to talk to me about a fall capital campaign. That is good as you need to be thinking ahead.  As I began to peruse through their website, I found their weekly bulletin.  Six weeks into the New Year and they were already $80K behind budget!  My first point of conversation with them was not about a future capital campaign but about closing out that gap.

After these first few Sundays of the year, what is your giving to budget ratio? Are you ahead or behind?  Is this unusual or normal for this time of year?  What factors are contributing to your giving status now?  Right now is the time to be asking penetrating questions about your giving to budget ratios and what this tells you.  More importantly, NOW is the time to act.  Let’s talk through some strategic steps you need to take as we are midway through the first quarter of the year.

What is your plan? Most churches have a hope plan.  They hope next week or next month will bring in more money.  Hope is not a strategy.  The greater the gap in giving towards fulfilling the budget, the more imperative it is you act.  If you fall more than one to two weeks behind in budgeted needs, I think it is time to act and act quickly.  Too many churches wait too late to correct giving shortfalls.  If you are experiencing a giving shortfall, begin a plan of action NOW! 

Begin with a proper assessment of where you are and why. The questions above are a good place to start.  Being behind now might not matter if traditionally, you always have a slow first quarter.  The issue is, are you consistent with past giving in the first quarter?  If not, then what is the driving reason for the shortfall?  In the above case, a snowed out Sunday is why they are now $80K behind budget.  Knowing the why behind a shortfall helps you better plan to close the gap.

Don’t come off as desperate. Whatever you do in terms of your plan, you must build confidence in your donor base.  The message must be positive and not come off as negative.  This is one reason to act sooner rather than later.  The longer you delay to address your giving gap the greater that margin becomes.  This will make it harder to correct and your tendency is to be more desperate in your reaction.  That you act helps build confidence in your donors but HOW you react is also important.

Head down eye on the ball!  I am trying to learn to play golf.  My problem, I have many, is that I am terrible and honest!   I count even whiffs.  One issue I have learned is that when teeing off, you have to keep your head down and your eye on the ball.  This same truth is applicable when it comes to being fully funded.  Hitting your budget doesn’t happen by accident.  You have to work at it.  If you take your eye off the ball, you might find yourself behind budget. 

Is your eye on your giving ball? Your continual awareness and actions will go a long way towards being fully funded this year.  Head down, eye on the ball!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach