To say we are in unprecedented times is an understatement.
Our lives have changed in ways that were unimaginable just a few short weeks ago.
For the church, so much as changed. Never in my lifetime have churches had to close their doors for the sake of the health of the community.
Fortunately, technology has helped churches host virtual services, but many church leaders fear the long-term impact of not being together as a church body.
Church leaders today worry about the long-term impact of service by technology and the great elephant in the room – the inevitable reduction of donations.
So how do you manage the money during these challenging times?
1. Recalculate Budget Projections
Part of the horror of this pandemic is the reality that millions of Americans have suddenly found themselves unemployed – literally overnight.
While the stimulus package will help, most families will feel the effect.
And assuming a family does tithe on their income, the reality is that family’s contribution will go down to the scale of the relief package and unemployment insurance.
I realize that there are not many data points to work with here.
However, you need to do a reality check on your budget projection numbers.
Start by looking at the last four weeks of contributions and compare that number average to what the average weekly projections were in your 2020 budget.
Then adjust the budget down.
For instance, if your projections for 2020 were $20,000 a month and your average offerings for the last four weeks has been $12,000, use that number to adjust projections – at least for the next quarter or two.
Be conservative with your estimates and be realistic.
2. Review Your 2020 Church Budget
Hopefully, your church has projected revenues and developed a budget for 2020.
The end of the first quarter is always a good time to review budget numbers and in light of the current situation, consider this a must.
Review all budget categories and eliminate those expenses that are no longer necessary.
You may be able to save some money on the seasonal events that will have to be canceled due to the social distancing mandate.
For instance, if your church sponsors an annual egg hunt for the kids, you probably aren’t having that any longer so those funds can be saved.
Go through the budget and see how much can be saved between now and mid-summer.
Even if the social distancing mandate is lifted, the reality is most people will be cautious to congregate with large groups of people.
Particularly those church members who are in the high-risk category.
3. Try To Keep Employees On Payroll
Employee salary is always a significant budget line item.
Churches all over the country are struggling with the possible necessity of laying off employees.
This heartbreaking decision should be considered carefully.
Even if employees are not able to work from home and the church office is closed, do whatever it takes to keep them on the payroll.
I was recently asked how a church should handle employees not being able to go to work.
My answer was simple. If the church has the funds/resources to keep them on payroll, make every effort to do that.
If there simply aren’t any funds to cover payroll expenses, that difficult decision may need to be made.
However, we need to be thinking past this pandemic and the need we will all have to keep a vibrant, productive workforce.
It may be worth the sacrifice of moving other budget dollars to cover the cost of salary.
4. Take Advantage Of Available Help
Washington understands the gravity of this sudden unemployment situation.
It is estimated that 30% of our economy has shut down.
Coupled with new unemployment claims of over 10,000,000 Americans in the last few weeks.
Washington understands that our economy cannot endure massive unemployment.
Their response has been to deliver a comprehensive relief package to help ease this economic shock.
Part of the relief package will provide stimulus checks to taxpayers who meet certain income criteria.
But a major part of the relief package is to help small businesses stay afloat until we can get the economy humming again.
The Small Business Administration is administering a couple of types of relief that churches can access.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance is a loan advance that will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
Another stimulus is the Paycheck Protection Program which is an SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the coronavirus crisis.
While this is technically a loan, the goal is to keep employees on the payroll.
So, if you qualify and use the funds to pay basic bills and avoid laying off employees, the loan may be forgiven.
Faith-based organizations can qualify for this help.
I’ll be honest, this stimulus was rolled out really fast and they are still working the bugs out. This means new information becomes available almost daily.
Now is not the time to debate whether or not it was a good idea for the federal government to infuse so much money into the economy.
If your church needs help, you should learn about this and take action.
Ask your accountant to help you understand the requirements and help you through the application process.
What a ride this has been. Ironically, it is these types of crises that bring people to their knees and open their hearts to the gospel.
Keep your focus on those people who desperately need to hear the Good News.
I pray that your church can weather this economic storm and comes out on the other side of this pandemic more effective to those people you serve!
God bless you for all you do!
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