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Parishes Finances: Questions and Comments

Recently I produced a video on the current state of our parish finances. The vide was sent via Flocknote. It included links to several additional materials such as copies of our Balance Sheet, a copy of our recent Income statements and a several year overview of Mass attendance.

I received a several comments and questions. They encompassed a number is issues. Allow me to address some of those.

One of the suggestions was to reintroduce the passing around of the collection baskets at Mass. I am open to a conversation about this. Nevertheless, regardless of what other churches are doing, I have several reservations about it.

  1. In order to be a vibrant parish, we require consistent giving
    to sustain our parish’s mission. This weekend’s debut of the
    MinistryOne app makes electronic giving easier for our
    parishioners and more consistent for the parish especially during times of vacation or in instances where Mass has been attended elsewhere. For those that wish to continue donating via envelope, cash, or check, we will soon be debuting secure donation boxes so that giving is convenient for all.
  2. I personally look at what is in the baskets every week when we count the collections. The checks and envelopes come in regularly regardless of whether there is a basket or not. One-third of the cash is $10 and $20 bills. Seventy-five percent are $1 bills. Passing the collection baskets is not likely to yield a dramatic increase in our weekly collection figure based on what we see each week.
  3. Some of those who give electronically have told me that they feel a little embarrassed when they don’t have anything to place into the basket. You may recall the baskets which used to sit next to the Saint Monica statue. They contained small cards that said “I give electronically” so that people could put something into the basket and not feel embarrassed. Returning to that model would perpetuate a sense of guilt for those who are not physically placing donations in the basket each week.
  4. There is also the issue of who is going to manage the collection. People have said, “There are lots of people who have done this in the past. They’ll do it again.” I disagree because it is simply not true at this point of time post-COVID. There are a few, very dedicated individuals. They’re wonderful. But volunteer ushers are significantly down since COVID. All of them are seniors. Those who have stepped down from this service have told me that they simply don’t want – or don’t have the energy – to do this anymore.

Below are some other questions that were posed to me concerning parish finances along with their corresponding answers:

Why not take the $500,000 dollars in the bank and use that to cover the gap?

We can, but that’s not going to solve the issue. We would simply be managing the decline as that plan would not have long-term feasibility. The Finance Council is not advocating for this route.

 

Couldn’t the donation baskets use a little more security?

Yes, you’re absolutely right. We have commissioned three wooden, locked collection boxes from the same wood from which the pews are made. They will not only be very secure, but also aesthetically pleasing. You will see them in the coming weeks. This will be a great repository for those who bring checks, cash, or envelopes.

 

What about an increased giving campaign, tithing, or sacrificial giving?

We’re discussing it. First, the Finance Council was very hesitant to ask for more money from parishioners with a balance sheet that includes $2.5 million in assets and $500,000 in cash. Second, we also wanted to outline the various components of the balance sheet, including recent generous donations. We didn’t want to do that until we had developed a comprehensive plan on how best to leverage that funding. That doesn’t happen overnight. It took several months of due diligence to discuss options, do research, make a decision and place the funding in a place where we could earn income, manage the risk and keep the funds liquid just in case we needed it quickly.

We want to let the dust settle a bit to see if our electronic giving efforts bear fruit before we embark on an increased giving campaign.

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