I’m working on several new books, and I’ve been reviewing my past writing and material. I recently came across my posts from March 2020 as the pandemic began to shut down everything, including our churches. In a series of posts, I gave advice on how to survive. The advice I gave at the start of the pandemic, and then a few weeks later, are great steps you need to consider as you think about recession-proofing your offerings. Let me quote from Volume 7 Issue 14 where I gave…
My Immediate advice for churches:
- Cut spending. Immediately, all non-essential spending should be frozen in place.
- Cut your budget. You are not going to hit your budget numbers. Why keep a budget that is impossible to meet? How much? I would start at 20% at least and be prepared for more cuts.
- Turn the thermostat down! Seriously, have you reset the thermostat throughout your now-empty buildings? My point is to eliminate any waste possible. Even minor things can save you money.
- Think 30, 60, 90, 120 days out! Right now, you need to think about survival. The next few weeks and months will be the worst. You must take care of the immediate, but don’t lose sight of the future.
- Protect your Assets! Your facilities are a vital asset not only for doing ministry today but for securing a stable financial future for your church. If you have a loan, do whatever you need to do to stay current on that loan.
You would need to adjust some of that advice today, but you get the point. It’s a crude crisis strategy but it worked. By Issue 32 of that year, I gave a longer-term outlook and recommendations. Here is what I wrote then:
What steps should you take to re-evaluate your budget for 2021? Here are some thoughts.
- Start by reviewing your current giving. What percentage are you behind from last year? Make sure you take this decline into consideration in budget planning for ’21. If you are ahead now, don’t go crazy with an increase in your budget. Wait! It’s better to,
- Freeze or decrease your ’21 budget from your initial 2020 budget. Be realistic. We are not out of the woods yet and much of our future is unknown.
- Consider setting your budget on a six-month schedule rather than twelve-month. Survive the first six months, then you might be able to increase the budget.
- Cut the fat and advertise the cuts. You want to show your donors you are fiscally responsible.
- Get a plan and work your plan. Without a plan, you are planning on failing.
- Start early. By this, I certainly mean the planning process, but I also mean the “selling” of the budget to your donors. One key is to help them know the stories behind the numbers. Remember, people give to life change, not a spreadsheet.
- Get your leaders on board first. If your leaders are not on board, you won’t make budget.
The above was my advice in 2020 and it’s good advice to consider in 2022/2023.