Your Church’s Finances and You

Most every church in the USA is a registered nonprofit organization. That means that, by law, they must have some sort of financial statement available to the public.

When was the last time you took a look at your church’s budget? At either the local or the national level?

Within the Episcopal Church, with more and more bishops floating around of dubious credentials, I think it’s important that the people in the pews know where the money in the collection plates go.

Ask a parish council/Vestry member where to pick up a copy of the budget. Take a look.

There’s one line item that Episcopalians should be looking for: Diocesan Allotment. At least that’s what we call it at St. Thatguy the Dude. It’s the money paid to the diocese, and it will vary in your region, so you might want to call up the diocese and see what a parish your size should be paying.

Then check it against the line item in the budget.

Personally, I would not join a parish that wasn’t paying its full allotment to the diocese, because you may not see them or talk to them yourself, but those people who work at the diocese by and large are bending over backwards to provide advice and support to your clergy and parish staff. Did you know the parish treasurer can call up the Canon of Finance whenever she wants for financial advice? That kind of service from a similarly trained, experienced, private professional STARTS at $100 an hour.

(While you’ve got the budget, you also might want to take a look at what your parish is paying its support staff. Annual Meeting time is coming up, and if you think they deserve a raise, that’s when you do it.)

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3 Comments

Filed under The Current Unpleasantness

3 responses to “Your Church’s Finances and You

  1. I completely agree with you about knowing where the money is going. Money matters are important, just ask Don Armstong!

    How many dioceses have the transparency of a local parish budget, however? I don’t know what my bishop or any of the staff make, and yet I know to the penny what my local parish staff get, including benefits.

    And while I share your concern for the local staff salaries, the local people may not be the best judges of what a staff person should get. They may not know what is expected of the staff, and not be in a position to know how close to expectations the staff comes, since a lot of work happens when nobody is around.

    An example – your choir director and organist show up on Sunday and the music sounds pretty good. However, how much time was spent in preparation/practice? Is the music appropriate? Lots of questions “behind the scenes” that the general old dog in the pew knows nothing about.

  2. Around where I hang out, it is called “the Diocesan assessment” and for several years we’ve been unable to pay our full amount. Gotta pay a priest, you know. But the good members of the “assessment relief committee” have been kind — they know we want to pay. And we’re trying. We mean it that we want to be part of the larger church.

  3. I believe in transparency and post the Treasurer’s Report on the bulletin board every month. I want everyone to know where the money goes.

    I wish the Diocesan report was as clear as our parish report; I never understand the diocesan report.