An important question: what story does your budget tell?
For decades one of the most successful fund-raising organizations in America has been the Salvation Army. I have given to it and I’ll bet you have, too. Here is the thing. I have never seen a budget for the Salvation Army. Have you? Have you seen one for your local homeless shelter, or humane society, or mission outreach you support? I’ll bet not. What is more, I’ll bet it didn’t keep you from giving generously.
It is hard for church leaders to understand that very few people give to budgets. They give to pictures. They give to stories. They give to people. They give to making a difference. Oftentimes they give exceedingly generous gifts, tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars—all without seeing a budget. Short of an outright misuse of funds they will continue to give generously if they can be part of the story of changed lives.
How do you present your budget? Is it a list of costs or a set of stories about how your church is changing lives? Do you have a line-item for candles or do you share how many persons will be touched in worship this year? Do you show the expense for curriculum or do you bring forward the teachers and children who will be blessed and discipled this year? Do you highlight the outreach line-item or make a video of the woman at the shelter who got her life on track because of your ministry? Givers want to be part of the story, not part of the budget. Share your stories and you will see more generous givers in your congregation.
Our Foundation is offering a Zoom workshop on Building a Narrative Budget on August 30th at 7:00pm eastern time. The workshop is free of charge.
We are also offering the same Building a Narrative Budget workshop in-person in Anderson, IN, in coordination with First UMC there. This workshop is held on Thursday, September 7th, at 7:00pm eastern time, free of charge. You can register here for either date.. Leaders that can attend the in person will be blessed by meeting others of similar needs and interests.
Let’s make sure our next budget is more than a list of line-items. Rather, let’s be sure it tells your congregation about the good work, and great difference, your church is making in the lives of people. We look forward to seeing you at our workshop in the days ahead.
For more information about stewardship, budgeting, and the path to generosity, contact us here or call us toll free at 877-391-8811.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana