Adventures in Generosity

The occasionally coherent ramblings of a Stewardship Advisor in the Church of England

Archive for finance

Parish Funding Newsletter

Latest newsletter for Parish Giving Officers et al is available Parish Funding News January 2011.

Bit of a dry edition I’m afraid – much information about tax to be got out at this time of year (and especially this year !) , but feel free to nick any of the info for your own purposes if it will help.

Headline I guess is the end of Gift Aid Transitional Relief – if your PCC don’t already know this they need to know it now !

Advertisements

All things come from you …

I was wondering what would move me to blog – having got well and truly out of the habit I was resigned to the fact that this little corner would sit forever collecting cyberdust and cobwebs, a neglected relic of more inspired times.  But at last ! a glimmer of inspiration.

The Church of England has revamped its website.  Hurrah ! in fact, bugs and teething problems last week aside, it’s a good looking site. Integrated well with a church near you , like the prayer stuff, think ‘being a Christian’ could be a bit more inspiring but maybe that will come.  On first pass the site is, if not awe inspiring, at least navigable, intelligible and pleasing on the eye (and browser).

But then I begin to look a little closer, with the eye of a professional employed by the CofE to ‘Support, encourage and inspire a spirit of giving and generosity’ in the members of this church.

Let me set you a challenge – whether you are an old hand or a new broom – spend 5 minutes perusing the site and then come back and tell me everything you have learned about Stewardship.

Have you, perhaps, learned that as Christians we are called to give of our ‘First Fruits’ to further the Kingdom of God, that what we do with our time, our talents and our treasures are as much an act of worship as Prayer or Praise ?  That Stewardship is fundamental to our Discipleship, that sacrificially serving others with all that we have is what being a Christian is all about ?

Should you be lucky enough to stumble across the single page which deals with such issues you would find this paragraph:

with regard to Christian Stewardship. Too many still regard it as a means of extricating a parish from its financial problems, as a “crash diet” for a week or two, and not as a way of life in response to God, a steady programme of growth in Christian discipleship.

I cannot argue with one syllable, absolutely 100% agree that Stewardship is catagorically not about funding the church, it is first and foremost about an individuals committment to and trust in God.  Our Journey deeper into faith must be accompanied by a journey away from reliance on our own wits and skills to maintain us.  If we cling to our material wealth as a life raft, if we squander our talents on accumulating endless shiny trinkets like over grown magpies, if we hang on to donations for dear life and spend every penny on maintaining the roof when outside people cry out in despair we can never lay claim to be living Life in Abundance.

So, if this paragraph is correct, if all of that is true and Stewardship is “a way of life in response to God, a steady programme of growth in Christian Discipleship” WHY is the single page dealing with the issue buried deep, under About Us, Under Facts and Stats (yawn), Under Research and Statistics (won’t be reading that) and, finally, under FUNDING THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND ????????

Hot off the press

Parish Giving Officers newsletter finally put to bed. 

A lot of the time managing PGO’s is a bit like blogging.  I try and produce something engaging, informative and attractive.  I sweat over phraseology, is it accesible ? is it trite ? does it inform, inspire and encourage.  Then when it’s finished off it goes out into the world and possibly straight into the bin. 

Parish Giving Officers are after all volunteers, with lives of their own (not to mention the several lives they are probably trying to manage at church – people who say yes invariably have umpteen other voluntary duties).  Whilst I sit here agonising that not enough parishes keep me informed about what they’re up to, it’s easy to forget that the parishes probably have better things to be doing than sending regular updates on their stewardship campaigns to me.

So, for what it’s worth, here it is. Parish Funding News Issue 1 September 2010. Hope you enjoy it, thanks for reading and, if you get a minute – give me a call – I’d love to hear what you’re up to and what is more, I need to nick your ideas !

Exit Poll

Well it’s taken a while but I’ve finally finished crunching numbers.  There’s quite a few stragglers left to mop up but I’ve been through every Parish Return I can get my sticky mits on and can reveal some enlightening facts and figures:

Our average weekly gift is £8

83% of the electoral roll take part in planned giving of some sort and 74% of those give tax efficiently

64.5% of donated income to our churches comes via planned giving, 23% from Fundraising and 12% from plate collections

54% of total church income comes direct from the people in the pews.

It seems common these days for there to be much hand wringing about levels of giving in the church and this Diocese is no exception  – average giving is down (again) and as a percentage of income giving now stands at 3% (as opposed to the ‘First to the Lord’ target of 5%). 

And don’t get me wrong – we could and should do a whole lot better. But….

According to the latest national report on giving http://www.cafonline.org/pdf/UK_Giving_2009.pdf  national figures should give us some cause for  hope, if not out right celebration.

Nationally, giving is down by a little over 11% – according to my stats our giving is down by 1% – Church giving is very resilient even in times of economic meltdown.

54% of the general population give to charity in any given month and only 37% give regularly – makes our 83% of regular givers look fairly amazing really. 

The fact is, most charities would give their eye teeth for the opportunity given to our Churches –  direct, face to face contact with the majority of our regular, committed and engaged donors – a chance to speak to them on issues that matter to our cause for 20 minutes every single Sunday.   Most donors get news on what their chosen charity is up to once or twice a year, our supporters get to hear about, and engage in, our work once or twice A WEEK. 

God presents his Church with a golden opportunity – to present His case, to share His plan and to inspire His people to open up and respond in generosity. 

 If we let ourselves lose Hope because our reality doesn’t quite meet our aspirations, we dishonour the many people in our Church who give regularly and sacrifically, we also miss an opportunity to grow in our own faith – God never said this was going to be easy;   the instruction ‘do not be afraid’ appears 366 times in the Bible – being disheartened when things don’t go according to our plan ? Really ?  

Yes, giving is down. Yes, people aren’t as generous as they could be.  Yes, the recession is a bit of a handy excuse for some. 

The question is, what are you going to do about it ?

Event news

Attended a ‘Community Cascade’ event today on ‘Resourcing your faith building’.

Have to admit a tad of scepticism before hand – CC is a partnership between all the CVS’s in West Yorks (thats councils for voluntary services to those fortunate enough not to have to know these things).

CVS’s not in my experience all that good at dealing with Faith organisations unless said groups keep fairly quite about the Faith in question.

However, an excellent and informative day.  Morning Workshop was on Energy Sustainability and was full of incredibly useful stuff on how to monitor, audit, manage and reduce energy costs.  The chap giving the presentation had experience of energy audits in churches so clearly had an understanding of the limits and idiosyncracies involved in historic and archaic buildings.  I will post his presentation up when I get a copy.

He’s also agreed to come to our Autumn Training day so watch this space.

Afternoon session was on Marketing – got some good pointers and materials but presenter seemed a bit phased by the whole ‘faith building’ thing – so no specific strategies there – and she managed to alienate half the room (the Anglican half anyway) by saying that our message should make it clear that ‘you’re not just safe and comfortable’ hmmmmmmmmm.

Lies, damn lies and ….

Statistics.
I’ve started following @YouGov (the poll people) on Twitter. So far today I have learned two things:

First; 20% of consumers aspire to own something made by Prada – they do not specify what, which I think tells you all you need to know about ‘designer’ culture.

Second;10% of us can no longer afford to buy organic.

The poll appears to be silent on the percentage of people who couldn’t afford to buy organic in the first instance and does not elucidate on how many of these ‘organic’ consumers have instead switched to buying the seed and growing organic instead.

I’ve also learned that more women than men have bought a smartphone in the last 6 months – pressumably as consolation for not being able to afford the Prada.

These statistics are of course meaningless in isolation, but the fact that such questions are being posed during what the papers now call

‘THE WORST FINANCIAL CRISIS IN GLOBAL HISTORY EVER AND THAT INCLUDES THE GREAT DEPRESSION’

suggests to me that poverty is a somewhat relative term and that I should listen far less when people tell me that the reason giving is down is because everyone is broke.

Clergy Pensions headed for a ‘Clergy Crunch’ ?

Must admit my brain tends to go a little fuzzy when I read ‘finance speak’  but an interesting piece  and comments from The Church Mouse.