Wouldn’t it be lovely if we received an email tomorrow morning from the finance committee that the church was granting our ministries and unlimited budget? Oh the things we could do, the Kingdom work we could accomplish! However, that is highly unlikely to happen. Funds are limited, there are many ministries that need financial support, and plenty of people in need.
What do you do when your budget is zero (or not enough)?
You have a couple of options.
- Request a budget. You can request a flat budget amount from the church, to work within. Or, you can type up a formal budget request which details your ministry plans and the costs to accomplish those plans.
- Request a budget increase. If you already have a budget to work with, but you need an increase, you must request additional funds by identifying your needs for these additional funds (amount, purpose, etc).
- Fundraise the gap. If you have zero budget from the church, or need an increase, and the Finance Committee doesn’t approve your request you can fundraise the needed funds (or the difference) in order to ensure your ministry plans move forward.
Ministry budgets are one of the reasons why I am personally a fan of having a ministry vision and plan. You need to know what your ministry is doing, and what the costs will be, in order to request funds from the church.
Start with What You Have
A zero dollar budget may not seem like much to start out with, but you would be surprised by the assets you have in the church. If you can use the space, tables, chairs… that is a start. Can your borrow seasonal décor to decorate the tables with? Can you utilize a woman in the church to share her testimony versus paying a speaker? Do you really need a sweet little gift to send home with each woman. Are there women in the church who don’t mind using their gifts to sew table runners for you or craft centerpieces? What do your women have sitting in their garages and hall closets that could be donated to the ministry? If you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what you need, and if you don’t know what you need… you will never know what you actually have.
Practical Tip: Come up with a list of things you need or want for the ministry and post it onto your facebook page (personal, church, or ministry) and see what people have lying around.
Track Measurable Growth
Finance Committees or the Pastors who oversee the budget are charged with being good stewards with the church funds. Therefore they want to see that the ministry is a value to the church and community and worthy of support. This means that not only do they need to know what you are spending money on, and how much, but also the why. Why are you having this event, what is the outcome. They also want to know the who. Who is growing from these events. Are we seeing numerical growth as women transition from guests at events to Sunday morning attendees, and plugging into small groups? Are we seeing spiritual growth, as the women in the church are being baptized or becoming small group/ministry leaders?
Practical Tip: At the services following brunches or fellowship events, make sure to have a booth set up for your ministry. Instruct guests at the event to stop by the booth that weekend if they come to services. You’ll have a free gift for them. Whether the gift is a .25 cent scripture bracelet or a $2 devotional booklet, you now have trackable inventory. You can report to whomever oversees your ministry the number of guests who ended up at services too. Instruct your small group leaders to inquire our new members found out about their group.
Zero Budget Does Not Equal Zero Money
There may not be enough money in the church budget to create a line on the annual budget for your ministry. But that doesn’t mean there are no funds available to be used by your ministry. If you are planning an outreach event, your church may already have a budget for outreach programs you can draw from. Ask. If you are hosting an event (like a retreat) and you will be taking payments, but need a down payment… ask. The church may have available funds to provide the deposit so long as you reimburse the budget once the tickets are sold. If you already have an approved budget and an unexpected opportunity presents itself, ask. There may be funds that can be shifted from another area in the budget, or you may be able to receive a special one time increase.
Practical Tip: If you need a budget to start with, or just additional funds, don’t forget to ask about fundraising. Can you fundraise? What restrictions or boundaries are on those fundraisers?
Thursday, we’ll finish up this recap on our Budgets and Fundraising event with some practical tips on how you can stretch your ministry budget.