Our fiscal year is April 1 through March 31 each year. We are presently requesting deacons and ministry leaders to submit their new budgets for the new fiscal year.
This would include 38 ministries and the amounts are from $0 to $35,000.00. Missions and staff salaries are considered separately from ministry budgets.
You may asking, “But how do you get the leaders of these ministries to submit budgets every year?” This question tells me that you are struggling to get the budget figures together for the church leadership so they can determine the new budget. Here’s what I suggest:
You ask kindly. The folks that lead our church ministries are usually volunteers and are paid nothing for their time and efforts. They are busy working full-time jobs and raising children, travelling, doing personal lawn and house care, hobbies and spending time with family members both close and extended. They also get sick from time to time. Their lives are full of preoccupations and distractions.
This does not mean that we enable them or allow them to be irresponsible. But it does mean that we treat them in a spirit of love and appreciation. The Golden Rule is a good rule of thumb to follow.
You ask firmly. This could include a kind reminder that ministries could suffer if not funded properly. However, some folks would take this as a threat. I have been a president of a United Way agency and if I didn’t ask for funding, I didn’t get funding. James also said, “you have not because you ask not.”
Start four to six weeks before the figures are due. Give brethren plenty of time to respond to your request and offer assistance in creating the new budget figures. You can experiment with incentives but these seldom do anything other than create a spirit of competition which is not healthy (in my estimation). A kind reminder weekly in the church bulletin, from a Power Point slide, an announcement or an email can help. Texting also is very effective. Make it is as simple and easy as possible for folks to submit their budget amounts. Also supply them with what they spent the previous year.
You ask again. Once again, I remind you that we work with volunteers; they are pre-occupied with dozens of important things. Sometimes, a phone call will work as a last resort. The best approach is always a personal face-to-face approach. This allows you to say “thank you for your involvement and leadership” before asking for a budget figure. If you are co-dependent like me, you will probably do the paper work for them also.
Sometimes church leadership can suggest a figure and wait for a response. If worse comes to worse, the leadership can put in a figure and hope the ministry leader accepts. Do this after you’ve educated the ministry leaders so they cannot come back and say you didn’t warn them. It’s better if the church leadership makes this directive, not you.
We want to avoid a ‘control game’ approach. We want to emphasize both the importance of the ministry leader and the ministry he/she leads. If you are the only one asking for the budget amounts, you must display a Christ-like spirit in all circumstances. People always trump methods and approaches.
Travis Irwin, Athens, TN