Fact! Churches Buy Toilet Paper!
In my last blog post, “Churches and Engagement (But Not Weddings): Tips for Engaging Each Generation,” we discussed engagement, the first step in fundraising within the church. In today’s blog, we’ll delve into step two: financial needs and spending.
A few months ago, I was talking with the financial committee at my church. The topic? General expenses that churches have which are similar to everyday family expenses. Our facilities guy piped up with “But families don’t have to buy toilet paper for 47 restroom stalls.” First, I tried to imagine where all 47 of those restroom stalls were (and I didn’t want to even think about the scary ones upstairs). And then I started thinking about how people don’t really relate their household and general expenses to their church’s expenses.
What am I getting at here? That conversation helped me better understand the financial needs of our church. And it made us all realize any church engaging in fundraising needs to provide supporters with an overview of the church’s financial needs, and it needs to account for its spending. I don’t mean you need to share your entire budget, line item by line item. Me, I have an advanced degree in business management and finance, but was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know such a large percentage of our church’s tithing went toward missions and the community.
So, do you need to periodically have a sermon dedicated to discussing where funding goes and how much you spend on toilet paper? No. Sometimes the quiet and small words mean so much more. Comment on how the heating bill was extra high with the cold winter, or how much the local mission appreciates your church’s support. Remind the congregation that the special offering helps send the youth to camp and support the parenting classes. All these little things can add up.
Please don’t think I’m saying you don’t need a sermon on giving. That is really up to your church and your pastor. However, do decide as a church who can best discuss these needs. Sometimes, the pastor doesn’t want to cross that bridge or discuss the elephant in the room. However, someone at your church needs to communicate this either from the pulpit, in the church bulletin, on the website, or on social media. You could even do all the above to ensure everyone hears the message and understands your needs. Remember that your congregation is trying to be good stewards of their money, so you need to show that you will also be good stewards of their money.
Keep in mind, many other faith related organizations are vying for your congregants’ hard-earned money, and people may think those organizations need their financial support more than your church does. These organizations typically have a pretty clear statement about their mission and programs and what donations to their cause will fund. Think about how you can illustrate this in your church. We’ll discuss this more in my next blog, when we look at showing appreciation and impact.