The Way to Present a Budget
Yep, yep, yep. I made it back via the Oregon Trail from Boise. It was a little iffy at times what with my bones being right weary from all that hard driving on the path. Thankfully, that ice cream stop at Cascade Locks sure made the final push in my covered wagon Prius a right nice way to go. I have reached the promised land of Salem!
But enough about my deep pioneering bravery (that's me on the right BTW) – the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference was, as always, a great time of renewal for the mind and spirit. There were so many highlights, but here’s one that inspired me and can be applied to your churches: the Finance Committee’s budget presentation. Now this may not sound very exciting, but here’s how they did a great job of making something deadly boring, very engaging:
1. First and foremost, the budget was framed as a stewardship issue. A story of personal conversion was told about being challenged to give and a tangible symbol (a quarter) was passed out to remind us of the impact of stewardship.
2. Secondly, someone from the Finance Committee spoke positively about the budget process. They chose a person who did not particularly feel budgets were her forte. Yet, she studied the budget, worked to understand it, had confidence in the “numbers people” around her, and affirmed that the process they followed to develop the budget was a good one.
3. Finally, there was an opportunity for people to spontaneously testify about the good things that were in the budget and how it made a difference in their ministry settings.
Not surprisingly, the budget passed the next day.
Here’s why this worked:
• The people who presented the budget were trusted and respected.
• The discussion was grounded in seeing the budget from a spiritual point of view.
• There was a brief but clear narrative piece that outlined any budget increase and provided a justification for it.
• The focus was not on budget numbers but on the mission that is carried out because of the budget.
• There was no Eeyore attitude – in fact, we were called to find ways to celebrate, celebrate what has happened and what can happen because of the budget.
Take a note from our Annual Conference Finance Committee team, adapt what they did to your ministry setting, and celebrate all the good things you are able to do because of your congregation’s faithful stewardship. Blessings are sure to follow.
P.S. Talk about blessings – watching Kathy Abend, Karen Shimer, Eilidh Lowery, and James Simmons Cox become elders in our Annual Conference was a spiritual highlight of my year. God bless all four of you as you go about inspiring generosity in your ministries!
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.