Event Recap 3/3: Make It Work!

Making YourBudget Work

Whether your budget is zero, two hundred, or two thousand… we can all agree that there are times where we need to stretch the budget a bit further.  It may be for a particular event, or the ministry budget as a whole.  Here are some tips to help you make your budget work for you.

  • Our previous article spoke to working with what you have.  You will be surprised what supplies and resources are just laying around in people’s homes and garages.  Often, we just need to ask.  If we do not allow our needs to be known, those who can fulfill those needs have no idea their help is needed. 
  • When budgeting for a large event, created the budget based on half the expected attendance.  For example if you want to have a special speaker banquet for 100 women, at $30 per ticket:  Your budget should be based on 50 women at $30 each, or $1500.  This way you know that your whole event is paid at the moment the 50th woman registers your event is covered.  Any registration above that provides funds that can go into the ministry budget, or for something extra special for the event attendees.  I will often create two budgets for large events. The 1st budget is what I absolutely must have “event budget”, and then the second budget includes my big dreams.  As money becomes available, I’ll start pulling items from the dream budget into the event budget.
  • For smaller events, or low cost events, considering rounding up the registration.  Let’s say you are having an event that costs $8 per woman, round up the registration to $10.  That $2 per person will add up over time and help build up the budget.  But, it also gives an opportunity to stretch the budget further to include scholarships for those who want to attend the event but may not be able to afford it.  Or, a buffer to cover any unexpected costs.
  • Use fundraiser events that don’t require any upfront money… where you can take orders for products.  Or, host events that cost you nothing to set up (like a craft fair, shopping boutique night) and people pay to attend or you get a % of sales.  A local MOPS group set up a fundraiser with a local restaurant where they would get a % of the sales from a set date/time as long as the guests mentioned the MOPS group name.  You can sell Tshirts with the ministry logo/verse, catalog sales, etc.
  • Look for event sponsors to cover costs or provide specific goods/services.   At a mother daughter tea, we had a local nursery set up some gorgeous plants with a bench for taking mom/daughter photos.  They did this for free, and placed a sign off to the side letting the guests know they sponsored the photo spot.
  • Take an offering or find a patron who supports your ministry to offset expenses the budget doesn’t cover.
  • Think ahead.  If you know that you have a Christmas Tea each year, watch for after Christmas sales on décor, plates, etc. that you can use for the next tea.  If you have Mother’s Day luncheon, watch for small favors or even gift baskets that go on clearance after Mother’s Day, and save them up for the next year.   Plan craft days around what items you crafty ladies find in the clearance bins at the local craft stores.
  • Check craigslist, ebay, and other sales sites for items you may need.  Many women will sell off their décor/supplies from their weddings, birthday parties, showers, etc instead of storing them.   I’ve seen everything from centerpieces to table cloths and chair covers.  It’s already themed too, which is great for those of us who are less creative.
  • Don’t forget your ministry is under the church (or other organizations), which means you are tax free!  Bring a copy of your tax free certificate when making ministry purchases, and some stores (like Hobby Lobby) will offer you an additional % off your purchase.
  • If you are ordering a large quantity of supplies, favors, books, etc. make sure to inquire about bulk discounts on single items.  I’ve even had luck calling manufacturers directly and getting items at wholesale prices.  Never hurts to ask!
  • Charge for events, when appropriate.  This may be charging for those using childcare ($2 -$5), charging a small registration ($5) plus bring a dish to share.  Just remember if you are going to charge, then you do not take an offering.
  • You can stretch a budget by sticking to it, if you overspend in one area you will have to make cuts in another.
  • Invest in reusable décor items instead of making new purchases for every event.  Linen table cloths, a simple centerpiece that you can embellish for holidays/themes.  If you have the same event each year (Mother’s Day tea or Christmas Brunch) you can actually save money by purchasing linens vs. renting them.
  • Coordinate with other ministries, perhaps there are items to purchase that can be shared and thus the expense can be shared.  A Women’s Ministry and MOPS ministry could share many staple decorations or supplies.
  • What are items within the church that you can use?  Can you use the copier or laminator?  There may be a stash of décor hidden away from previous years that can be brought back to life!
  • For events outside the church, remember to ask about group discounts.  Usually groups of 20 or more can get discounted rates for conferences, painting nights, and other such events.  If having a ladies night out at a local restaurant, you can often lessen the cost by having a set menu to choose from versus allowing them to order off the menu.

Share your ideas for extending, stretching or creating added funds to your ministry budget.  How do you make it work?

Budgeting Event Recap #2 of 3

budgetatzero

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

Building Better Budgets

BUDGETS.png

No one likes talking about budgets.  Well, I shouldn’t say no one, because some people actually do.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I don’t really want to talk budgets, but I respect the value of a budget.  Budgets give us parameters.  This is what I have, and then as a team we decide how we are going to use it.  Budgets make decisions for us, either we have enough money or we don’t.  Budgets move us, either we are given the ability to dream big… or we are given the motivation to think creatively.

Budgets are parameters, but they are not without compromise.  If you have too much money in the budget, you can get really creative or use those funds to bless another ministry.  If you have too little you can fundraise the difference, to meet your needs.

But what happens if you have zero budget?  You’ve requested, or been told, that there are no funds for your ministry… then what?  It may be tempting to think that no budget is a finite answer, but I would disagree.  I believe there is compromise even in the NO.

A lifetime ago, when I was working in retail, something I was taught was that very rarely is NO a permanent answer.  In most cases, NO really translates into “no, now now”.  This may not be the right time, I may not have the additional funds available, I may be too distracted to consider this opportunity, etc.

The response of NO to getting a ministry budget, doesn’t mean that your church or overseeing organization is unwilling or unable to give at all.  It doesn’t mean you can’t present your request for a specific item, training, or resource.  Particularly if this is something that can benefit the whole church.

Your church may say no to an annual ministry budget because they do not see the need to provide funds for ongoing potluck brunches.  But, if you were to ask for funds to specifically start up a discipleship program for the women… that may get one time support.

You may not be getting funds because you have failed to show how the funds are being used.  Maybe the finance committee members don’t understand that even a potluck brunch can have an expense of $100 or more.

In July, our local WMC Training event will cover the topics of budgets and fundraising.  We hope you can make it.  If not, look forward to more on the topic of Building Better Budgets after the training event.  We will also post direct links to resources, and share some of our favorite fundraising suggestions.

Team Series: Treasurer {Finances}

fundraising

Team Series:  Treasure/Finances,   By Gena McCown

Times have changed.  Churches often don’t have “treasurers” like they once did, instead they use accounting services.  Everything is automated, including budget spreadsheets.  Generally speaking, you can access the information in due time.  Quite often we pay out of our pockets and get reimbursed versus using “petty cash”.  There are many reasons to believe this role is one that could be retired.  I’m going to disagree with that entirely, for the following reasons:

  • Good Stewardship of Ministry Funds
  • Accountability
  • Checks and Balances
  • Fundraising
  • Greater Accessibility

Good Stewardship of Ministry Funds – Money minded people are generally good with money.  They are more apt to think through purchases and have long term sight into future spending needs.   If you are thinking of a making a purchase, they will weigh and measure if it’s a need or want, if the ministry has the funds or not, or if there is a better way to use the budget.  Eliminating wasteful spending is a great gift to any ministry, and we sometimes need someone who can reel us back in from our big dreams.

Accountability – When there is a person who keeps the ledger for the ministry, you tend to not have too many hands in the pot trying to get money at one time.  I’ve witnessed situations where multiple were out shopping and “picked up” little something for a ministry.  No one asked about it, just made the purchase and assumed they would be reimbursed.  Having a person who oversees that area creates a check point for purchases before they are made. 

Checks and Balances – In a church setting where funds are being deposited for multiple ministries and endeavors, all through the week., errors can happen.  A person may put a check in the offering plate to pay for the retreat, thinking the accountant will see the word “retreat” noted in the memo section and apply it accordingly.    Money may be handed to someone in the office, and it gets tossed in with the deposit without noting where it goes.  It’s important to have someone in the ministry team tracking all the deposits and withdraws from the ministry budget.  Several times throughout the year, your finance person can compare their accounting to the church account.

Fundraising – When you are the person looking at the account balance on a regular basis, fundraising is naturally going to come to mind.  You are aware of how many times you have had to say no.  It stinks having to tell one of your team members that they need to scale back their project or event.  It is even more unbearable to break the news to the team that the registration for the next women’s retreat is going to increase due to lack of funds to offset costs.   The person who fills this role will know the needs of the ministry that are not being met, the projected costs of the ideas that the team wants to add.  (Note:  In some ministries, it may be prudent to divide this particular need into a separate position.  Larger ministries especially, would benefit from a Fundraising Leader AND a treasurer.)

Greater Accessibility – During a Women’s Ministry meeting, a great idea may be put out on the table to discuss.   Do you want to wait 24+ hours to find out if their is room in the ministry budget, or would you rather have that information available on the spot?  Having a team member who keeps track of the finances will give you that access to information.   The church accountant (especially if they use an offsite service) may not be able to get back to you immediately, it could even take a few days.  A team member who handles the expenses and record keeping is merely a text away.  This is particularly vital during a time where you are planning for a large event.

How Do You Identify This Person?

  • When pitching an idea, she is usually the first one to talk about the expense.
  • She will always have researched the best possible price before she shares an idea or project.
  • This is someone who regularly presents ideas for fundraising, notices budget needs.
  • She is one who would never spend money on the ministry without checking in with the leader/team members first.
  • In her personal life, business life, she is fiscally responsible.
  • She may be an accountant, or served as a “treasurer” for other organizations, ministries, or clubs in her past.
  • Usually a Type A personality, analytical, enjoys math and “crunching numbers”.

Her Spiritual Gifts May Include:

  • Administration
  • Discernment / Wisdom / Knowledge
  • Service