The Narrative Budget – Take 2
Wow! Last week’s blog was the most-viewed entry for “Inspiring Generosity” – ever. Time to party! I was waiting for the confetti to rain down but it never happened so I was forced to toss some birdseed to celebrate (My office mate was none too pleased – sorry, Linda). Now that I am regaining my composure, I am still stunned. The blog was about budgets for heaven’s sake – not some high-minded, flautin’-sounding spiritual treatise on stewardship. My most-viewed blog was about numbers. So why stop a good thing? Let’s keep the trend going and learn more about narrative budgets!
This week in Bill Mullette-Bauer’s “Grace and Gratitude” newsletter (you do read it faithfully, right?), he provides a link to the General Board of Discipleship’s new Stewardship e-newsletter. And guess what its focus is? Yep – the narrative budget. By following their links, you can find additional resources about and two samples of narrative budgets.
The good Rev. Jeremy Hajdu-Paulen from Dallas UMC forwarded me a copy of a draft narrative budget he put together a few years ago. He shared that the narrative budget received a lukewarm reception because they'd never done it that way before and what they had been doing had worked – more or less. That’s not surprising. Change is hard. And when you’ve done something the same way for years, and it sort of seems like it’s working – why do something different?
Please remember, you do need to have a detailed budget, but it should not be sent out to the congregation as the document that will inspire people to give.
Just think, when was the last time you saw a line-item budget shared by your town’s American Red Cross? How about Habitat for Humanity? Or your local food bank? You don’t remember, because they don’t send them out. They, like all non-profits know that people don’t give to budgets. They give to a vision of how the world will be better because they are there.
So take the time through your narrative budget to ask that age-old, yet critically important question: How will your congregation, community and world be better, how will it be different because your church exists? That’s the kind of thing that will indeed inspire generosity.
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.