Crisis Preparation Webinar
Wednesday, March 25 – 10am PDT
Meeting ID: 763 923 1970
Join Mark Lewis, Director of ReachGlobal Crisis Response for a half hour presentation followed by Q&A. To prepare please, download the presentation Ministry and COVID-19.
EFCA West Financial Support Ministry
EFCA West staff anticipates economic hardships to be especially severe in the coming weeks and months among our smaller congregations. While not always true, smaller congregations tend to have fewer margins in their finances and little, if any, money held in savings. Larger churches may need to make significant cutbacks while smaller churches fight for their survival.
EFCA West’s Financial Support Ministry is now available to connect churches and individuals that are able to share financially with churches experiencing severe financial distress during this event. It is a simple process where EFCA West connects those in need with those willing and able to help with the giving done between the parties and EFCA West not handling any funds. Here’s how it works.
- Churches and individuals that may be able to help other churches should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org expressing their willingness to do so. Include your name and contact information (phone number and email). It would be helpful to include an approximate amount that you might be prepared to give so that we have an idea of who to connect with whom.
- Churches that have needs should let their needs be known by sending an email to email@example.com specifying the need, the amount, and the person to be contacted should a donor be located.
- The types of needs we envision meeting include helping churches unable to pay pressing bills; helping pastors and church staff with bill payments or salary assistance caused by reductions in giving due to the COVID19 event and helping churches with benevolence.
- Note that these gifts are intended to help churches with significant problems. Everyone will likely hurt some and need to make cuts in their living expenses before seeking assistance from others. When such curtailments no longer work, it’s time to ask for help.
- Donor churches and individuals will generally be encouraged to give directly to the church in need by giving to that church’s general or benevolence fund rather than giving directly to individuals (an individual’s monetary gifts to another individual is an exception). Churches typically cannot give cash gifts to individuals but can give them to other non-profit religious organizations including churches which can then provide benevolence. Note that, in general, tax deductions for individual gifts to other individuals are not allowed, and benevolence provided to employees of the church is treated as taxable income.
- EFCA West will only assist with needs presented by churches whether for the church or one of their members to ensure legitimacy of needs. We will not process requests received directly from an individual.
EFCA West believes this is a time for churches to share with one another and we encourage you to be generous if you can. Should you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
CHURCH SURVIVABILITY PLANNING
Other than house churches, churches and other non-profits survive financially on the generosity of others. During times of localized crisis (e.g. earthquake, tornado, etc.), generosity typically peaks fairly soon and then subsides. This pandemic is different in that the economic impacts will not just be local, but will be nationwide and even worldwide. There will be no geographic area or economic sector untouched by this crisis from which to receive significant financial support. In short, there may be no peak in generosity
EFCA West recommends that church leaders begin now to address their current and projected financial situations. The principle behind acting now is that it is much easier and less traumatic to address financial shortfalls very early than to watch and wait, hoping it will go away, and having to make much deeper cuts later. Here are some suggestions to consider.
- Do you know where the funding for your church comes from? Are there a couple of major donors upon whose gifts you are quite dependent? Have you talked with them about what financial issues they are facing and how that might impact the church’s finances?
- Upon what economic sectors are your congregants dependent? For example, if you are in a travel-dependent community, the loss of travel-related jobs and income will be a significant impact.
- Does the church have savings that could be used to help navigate a short- to moderate-term cash flow deficit? How long will it last if we don’t make curtailments now?
- If giving falls to 75-80% of normal for a period of three months or more, where would you need to make spending cuts? Note that I invented the 75-80% figure – there’s no science or prescience involved.
Consider creating spending curtailment plans such as the following:
- Curtail all non-essential spending immediately.
- Create a list of spending cuts required to meet a drop in giving of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 percent as soon as possible. It is better to make these plans today while we can think logically than waiting until the last minute when we are more likely to be impacted by emotions.
- If possible, set aside some funds to share with those in need.
CARING FOR LONG-TERM FINANCIAL NEEDS OF CONGREGANTS
It is anticipated that there will be severe economic damage resulting from the COVID-19 event and that many of our congregants will experience severe financial problems. How do we care for them?
Leaders may start by preparing them for the potential of a “new normal” in their lives. Economic recoveries tend to take time. People will find that their business doesn’t survive, their jobs don’t come back and they will need to make major adjustments from their previous standards of living. Some will lose homes. We can prepare people for these things through our teaching of scripture, providing training on handling personal finances, providing third-party mentoring or advice for those needing to make significant decisions and supporting them through prayer and trained counseling. We can also encourage those experiencing less loss to be sacrificially generous to those that have suffered more greatly.
Churches will likely find significant increases in requests for benevolence. Because this crisis will likely be prolonged, consider exercising even more discretion in distributing these funds so that you have funds to distribute in the future. Leaders may need to triage financial needs to differentiate between the most compelling needs and those that we might not be able to meet. We may need to help people find creative means for meeting needs that do not require spending funds we don’t have to spend.
All of the guidance and recommendations that have been provided by EFCA West assume that church leaders are bathing their actions in prayerful dependence upon God for wisdom and guidance in the decisions they make and in obedience to scripture. This is our prayer for you and for us as we walk through this together.
As always, we at EFCA West are pleased to assist your leadership community in working through these and other issues. Please don’t hesitate to contact us individually or at email@example.com if you would like our assistance.
Read previous COVID-19 Updates:
March 17 Update