Your church may operate its fiscal year as the calendar year. If so, you probably will create your church’s 2015 budget over the next few weeks. After the proper financial statements have been reviewed and a budget has been put together, your church will find itself in one of three positions:
- The budget bottom line is negative, meaning that you are budgeting to spend more than you are bringing in.
- The budget is balanced, meaning that if your church follows the budget exactly as planned, you will break even at the end of the budget year.
- The budget bottom line is positive, meaning that you are budgeting to bring more in than you spend and the church will have a surplus.
Most first drafts of a budget end with the bottom line a negative, leaving those creating the budget to wonder what to do next. The answer is simple: cut expenses or increase revenue.
Cutting expenses and increasing revenue can both be difficult. Reducing expenses requires taking a hard look at your budget and making some tough decisions, such as cutting certain things or putting others on hold. Reducing expenses affects people and must be handled carefully. But it is also necessary and must not be avoided. Here are tips for cutting costs:
- Review all possible financed items for your church and inquire as to any possible lower interest rates.
- Ensure that all assets are insured with the same organizations, as most of the time there will be discounts for covering multiple items (e.g., vehicles, buildings).
- Consider which programs you can cut or cut back on.
- Evaluate whether you can cut missionary support.
- Consider salary freezes.
- Investigate staff furloughs.
- Enlist volunteers to complete services you are now paying for, thus reducing bills (e.g., cleaning, lawn care).