As the final month of the fiscal year wanes, many churches are putting the finishing touches on the budget for the upcoming year. Even though the process likely started months ago, a flurry of activity always happens during those last thirty days. It seems like everyone is waiting until the last possible minute to propose their budget. When all of the ministry and operational budgets are finally submitted, the work for the financial team begins. The budget team then begins the rigorous process of refining each area to ensure every dollar goes toward accomplishing the mission. A process that often involves adjusting budgets to match the projected fiscal target. It can be emotionally draining for all involved. But when the budget is finally complete, it’s time to share this great news with the appropriate people.
Imagine applying for your dream position with the perfect organization. You knew you nailed the first few interviews, and the final interview with the CEO was flawless. You’re on pins and needles waiting to hear if you got the job. How would you feel if the human resources department called and informed all your current colleagues that you got the job, but they didn’t tell you first? What does that say about the organization? When there is big news to share, there is typically an order to share the information and various levels of sharing that need to take place. And that’s true for a church budget.
Order of Sharing
Every church and non-profit has an organizational chart, and many have a defined process for distributing essential information, like the church budget. Churches without a stipulated process should always start with the highest level of leadership. For most Christian churches, the elder board (board of directors) fills this role. Once the board is informed, go to the next level of stakeholders – the executive team. The executive team for a church usually consists of the senior or lead pastor (CEO) and others in leadership, including executive pastors and others who oversee the various departments within the church. Next, the approved budget should go to those serving, including volunteers impacted by the implications of the budget. At this level, they only need to see some of the budget but need to know their portion and its impact. Finally, it’s time to share it with the congregation. Sharing the budget shows transparency and accountability to those who generously and sacrificially donate to support the mission.
Level of Sharing
Sharing the budget is a time of celebration and looking ahead. It’s a plan that says how the church allocates each dollar to accomplish the mission. Sharing the budget demonstrates thought, prayer, and intention, not just some numbers slapped together. But, unless your denomination or by-laws require it, consider appropriate levels of sharing details. For example, instead of showing the annual compensation package of each individual employee, break it down into summarized categories like compensation, benefits, and taxes. Providing a summary protects individual income amounts while still delivering essential information, like how much goes to paying the church staff and whether it is a healthy percentage of the budget. Another area to provide a summary instead of individual amounts is missionary support. Again, it provides the necessary information, like how much and whether it’s appropriate, without exposing personal information. When sharing the budget with the congregation, be as transparent as possible without revealing detailed information at a personal level.
The church budget is serious work; when it’s complete, it’s worth celebrating. Take the time to share it with the right people, in the proper order, with the appropriate level of detail.short url: