In the interest of your church members’ health and government restrictions during COVID-19, your church budget meetings will likely happen virtually. We’ve updated our previous blog regarding church budget meetings to reflect accommodations for meeting online.
Financial support for your church’s ministry comes from faithful people who give because they believe in the mission. Churches are responsible for managing those funds wisely. The church Budget Committee has the task of oversight. One of their primary duties is to create an annual budget.
The Budget Committee Chair plays a significant role in developing a realistic annual budget. That role includes facilitating a successful meeting in which all members feel part of a decision-making team. Even when conducting meetings virtually online, the Chair must make sure all voices are heard, that the group can achieve consensus, and everyone will be accountable for assignments. Even experienced Chairs can benefit from some tips for facilitating a virtual budget committee meeting.
Collect and review previous budgets. Create information packets for each member to review. Distribute these in advance by mail or email. Make the information easy to understand:
- Clear format for data
- Complex terms explained
- Space for notes and questions
Set Up the Online Meeting
Zoom is an excellent program to use. The free version allows 40 minutes for meetings with up to three people. If you have a larger committee or know that you will need more than 40 minutes for your meeting, a paid version is still very reasonably priced. Desktop users can sign up https://zoom.us/. Mobile users can find the app in their app store.
If you are new to Zoom (or your teleconference platform of choice), you should practice a bit and become acquainted with the available features and tools. Do you have a committee member with more Zoom experience than you? If so, you could make them a co-host and ask them to handle the meeting’s technical aspects so that you are free to lead the agenda as you would in-person.
Get familiar with the tools you’ll need ahead of time:
- Do you know how to mute and unmute participants?
- Do you know how to check audio and video settings?
- Do you know where the “chat” room is and how to direct participants to use it?
- Will you want to record the meeting?
- Will you want to break a large group into small discussion or workgroups during the meeting?
- Will you have a co-host or someone to admit late arrivals?
- Will you want to share your screen or allow one or more committee members to share their screens?
All of these options are available, and as a host, you will want to be comfortable with them before your first meeting.
Get the Word Out
Send emails a week ahead to the committee members with the date, time, and a link to join the meeting. If you set up the meeting with a passcode, send the Meeting ID and passcode that Zoom provides, too. Check to make sure everyone knows how to use it ahead of time and be prepared to schedule a few tutorial calls with members that may want more assistance.
A meeting agenda helps the committee stay on task. It prevents the group from spending too much time on one item at the expense of others. The successful plan will include time for each item. Committee members can suggest changes during the agenda review. Here’s one example:
7:00 pm Welcome/Introductions
7:15 pm Opening Prayer
7:20 pm Agenda Review
7:25 pm Expectations of Group (Ground Rules)/Roles as a note-taker and timekeeper, if not assigned
7:30 pm Previous Budgets
8:00 pm Revenue Projections
8:15 pm Budget Requirements
8:30 pm Budget Priority Discussion
8:50 pm Next Steps
9:00 pm Meeting Adjourned
Facilitate the Meeting
What are your goals for the participation of the committee members? Do you want everyone to participate actively in the discussion? Does the team expect to achieve consensus? If so, the group will need to hear all ideas and opinions to agree. You will need to:
- Send a meeting reminder to members a few days before the meeting. Clarify any member assignments that require reports or updates.
- Lead the group in setting ground rules.
- Respect the time committed. Make sure the meeting starts and stops on time.
- Encourage each member to share ideas and opinions.
Will Your Budget Pass the Test?
Before your committee presents a preliminary budget to the Trustee Board for approval, make sure the team has considered any questions that might be asked. Try to find all the items that might be challenged and make sure your data supports the need. The last thing you want is to present an unclear budget or one you and your committee can’t defend.
Have a great meeting,
Charles Myrick and the Myrick CPA team
Churches and religious institutions may be Godly sanctuaries, but they are run by very human people who often juggle many roles and responsibilities. When it comes to financial planning, budgeting, and dispersing, financially sound churches do it with a qualified professional’s guidance. Schedule a virtual meeting with Charles Myrick, CPA, to discuss your church’s financial management options.