Pastors that I talk with tell me that the summer months can be hard on their church collections. Historically speaking, church attendance declines in the summer months as families go on vacation or merely stay away to avoid the heat. For churches that rely on the Sunday collection plate for most of their income, this can be a hard time.
Church leaders who focus on the spiritual care of their parishioners during the summer must also consider the financial strain that summer months can put on the church as an organization. Concerns about cash reserves are very real. There are two primary ways you can help keep your church financially solvent during the summer months – increase the income or reduce the expenditures. Here are some suggestions:
Find Sources of Summer Income
The first way to help your church survive the summer months is to bring in more income.
- You can strengthen the individual donations by instituting ways to automate weekly contributions. If you have the means for automatic bank transfers, you could have parishioners set up weekly donations via bank transfer. Even when they are out of town, you will be able to count on a set amount of income based on all of your automated donations.
- Be straightforward about the problem, including the church budget, with your congregation. Start a summer donation drive a month before your attendance usually drops off. Remind your congregation that summer presents some challenges and that their contributions are meaningful.
- Another way to increase income is to expand summer activities - think of a way to keep your parishioners active throughout the summer months. Try to find ways to engage the youth population, who are likely home from school. For example, through a youth-oriented summer camp or summer bible study. Keeping your congregation engaged throughout the summer could increase the chance they attend Sunday services and continue with weekly donations.
Reduce Summer Expenditures
The alternate option is to decrease your spending. Unfortunately, this may mean discontinuing some programming. On the other hand, you may not need all the services if there are lower attendance and participation.
You can also anticipate decreased spending. Plan for and make significant purchases in the early spring such as office supplies or any church service supplies (printing, hymnals, etc.). Closing church offices once or twice per week can save on utility bills and staffing costs. You can also combine Sunday services to decrease utility costs.
In financially sound churches leaders look to financial professionals for guidance on how to plan and prepare for changes in income and expenses, especially during the summer. If your church reduces the summer programming, your Budget Committee can use these summer months to focus on year-round financial planning.
Let us help you plan ahead for growth!
Charles P. Myrick is a Washington, DC accounting firm offering specialized CFO services to churches and religious institutions. Myrick CPA was voted Best Accounting Firm in DC, 2016 and 2017, Washington City Paper Readers' Poll. Request a confidential consultation, today.
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