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?

Event Recap – Budgets & Fundraising

 

Would you believe me if I told you we had a great meeting in July on budgets and fundraising?  That we could talk money is good and practical ways, getting in a laugh or two, and even benefitted from those who also had ideas to share in regards to ministry budget?

If you can’t believe it, you should… because it was an amazing meeting.  Thanks to Crossway Publishers, all of our women brought home a sample chapter of Chasing Contentment, and BH Publishing provided beautiful scripture magnets featuring Romans 14:19.  I loved this scripture because it speaks to exactly what we do as a ministry.

Peace.  Unity.  Building up one another.

Over the last few years we have given away some great books to our leaders, and we had a small stash of leftovers.  We used this as an opportunity to let the women grab a title they may have missed in the past.

Over the next few days, we’ll recap the highlights from this training event.

piggybanksWe’re going to begin with identifying some of the most common mistakes we make in regards to budgeting.  These are most common mistakes among ministries that are self funding versus receiving any budget from the church.  It is important to recognize these mistakes, understand why they are considered mistakes; so that we can move forward into the future with a better grasp on the importance tracking our spending.

5 Common Ministry Budget Mistakes:

  1. Failure to Keep Track of Ministry Spending:  If you hope to have a ministry budget in the future, you need to know what you are spending today.  Whether the money comes from a church budget or through donations made by the ministry team, we must keep track of our current spending in order to prepare for future spending.  
  2. Plan Events Without Considering the Budget:  Quite often as we plan events, someone will volunteer to purchase that item and count it as an offering to the church.  This is problematic for several reasons.  First, we can exceed our intended budgets without even realizing it.  Second, we can get too comfortable assuming that others will fill the gaps in our budget needs.  Third, as leaders of a ministry we are called to be good stewards of the funds we have been trusted with.  
  3. Not Reporting Ministry Expenses to Pastor/Finance Committee:  Many Pastors or Finance Committees may be entirely unaware of the cost of running your ministry.  They may not be aware that potluck luncheons still have expenses from childcare, speakers, and to materials distributed.  Just because you have not been given an official budget, or have raised the funds to fill in the gaps, doesn’t mean you don’t need to share these expenses with your overseers.  A quick report on your annual ministry expenses may open up the conversation for a budget or budget increase in the future.  If your spending exceeded the given budget, make sure to include how you filled the funding gap (fundraiser, anonymous patron, etc.).
  4. Assuming that No Budget Means No Money:  Just because you are not given an annual budget doesn’t automatically mean that there are no available funds.  You may be able to make a special request for specific events, purposes.  Additionally, your need may cross over into another budgeted area.  If you were planning a community outreach event, the church may have funds available in their outreach budget that can be funneled toward your event.
  5. Your Ministry Lacks Vision/Direction:  It can be tempting to plan your events month by month, however that is counter productive to budgeting.  Churches budget for an entire year, if you want to be included in the budget there must be a plan for the ministry.  You are more likely to get your ministry budget approved if you have planned for how you are going to spend it.  It is especially important to show that your ministry plans are part of the vision of the church versus working independently.  A planning session for budgeting should include determining the number and types of events you will have over the course of the year and what your anticipated costs are.

On Monday, we are going to dive into the budget topic more specifically.  Be sure to check back in!

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

Fundraising Dilemmas

fundraiser

 

For many churches providing a budget for the Women’s Ministry is an impossibility, even a small one.  The Women’s Ministry is not being singled out either, as there are many sub-ministries that are not getting a line in the budget either.  Even in some of the larger churches there may not be a budget, as the larger the church the more expenses to be dealt with.  Building projects, new equipment or VBS may get priority over Women’s Ministry.

First, I want to express that this is not exactly wrong.  I’ve heard from Women’s Ministry leaders who feel like the ministry isn’t being supported by staff, for no other reason than it not having a line in the budget.  I even had one leader suggest that even $1.00 would be fine, just to see it on the budget.  The belief was that a line in the budget meant the church was taking it seriously.

If our first priority it to be a support to the church’s mission statement, then we must be willing to put our money where our mouth is.  When reaching the community is the goal, VBS may be the right place to put extra funds, allowing more children to attend.  An area with a lot of troubled youth, may need extra funds so they can have a scholarship fund for upcoming events and trips. I’d rather see money heading out into the community to feed the homeless than a brand new set of centerpieces for the next Women’s Brunch.

Budget is a tough subject, and I believe Women’s Ministry needs to be flexible and willing to work within the budget it does have.  Additionally, I believe the church needs to be flexible in allowing the Women’s Ministry to fundraise for the budget it does not have.

Some things to consider when fundraising:

*  You are not the only ministry. — It’s important to remember that you are not the only ministry that needs funds to exist.  Keep your fundraisers spaced out, and limited to just a few per year. 

*  Keep in mind who attends your church.  — If you are a church that is in a low income area, your members may be struggling just to tithe.  A fundraiser may be too much pressure.  We never want our fundraising event to take funds from the needs of the church.

*  Fundraisers cost something.  — There is no such thing as a free fundraiser.  It’s going to cost you something, most often that is time or money.  Planning a large event that requires a lot of volunteers may be difficult.  Fundraisers where you sell goods often require upfront purchases and the ministry is left covering the cost of unsold goods.  If you sell goods through a fundraising program, remember you are only getting a small portion of that sale.

Successful Fundraising Tips:

  • Take an Event Offering ~ a simple basket on each table at a Brunch or passed around at an event, can be a great way to build up a nest egg.  Women will usually give a few dollars each, but it’s a start and you can build upon it.
  • Charge for the Event ~ a small per person charge for events can cover the expense of the event, add just $1-$2 on top of that and you can use those funds to build up your budget.
  • Sell Everyday Goods or Services ~ have you ever had your child come home with a catalog fundraising for school, and there is just nothing in there that you “need” but you feel obligated to buy?  It ends up in the trash, or stuffed in a closet somewhere.  Some of the best fundraisers are when we are selling items people are already using.  Selling fresh ground coffee or Christmas Trees can be a great fundraiser.  Or, work with a local photographer for a Spring Family Portrait package.
  • Sell Donated Goods ~ A rummage sale is a great way to resell used goods and bring money into a ministry.  Have a plant sale, where local nurseries can donate the plants in exchange for advertisement and the proceeds go to the ministry.
  • Sell Space ~ Church Craft Fairs are always a great way to raise funds, your vendors purchase their table space.  In some cases the ministry may ask for a percentage of the sale, but I think charging for the space is enough.  This allows the event to be a blessing to the ministry and the vendors.
  • Raffles and Silent Auctions ~ Donated or discounted goods can be bundled together to make an excellent fundraising event on their own.  Work together with other ministries and share the funds you raise.
If you are going to work with a fundraising company that has higher priced items, choose ones where you take the orders instead of committing to sell a certain number of items.  For example, if you wanted to sell Poinsettias at Christmas, don’t pre-purchase (or place a deposit)  two hundred plants and truck them to the church with the hope to sell them all.  Take orders, pick up on the ones that were paid for, and now you are not left with too many unsold plants to find homes for or a commitment to pay for what was unsold.
Try to avoid catalog fundraisers that are already popular in your area.  If all of the schools are selling coupon books for local stores, trying to sell them as a ministry is not going to be nearly as successful.
Consider fundraising off season.  Schools will often sell wrapping paper or small gift items in the Winter, and candy in the spring for Easter.  A summer fundraiser is a time you’ll have little competition with schools.
If you are looking for donations for an event, start asking early.  Most companies are allotted  a specific amount of money per year to donate (in cash or goods).  If you wait until November or December to request a donation, it may be too late.
These are just a few ideas and suggestions, the internet (and pinterest) has a slew more!
Before you fundraise for your ministry, be sure to speak with your overseeing Pastor about your fundraising plans.