"Overhead" is NOT a Dirty Word

"Overhead" is NOT a Dirty Word


“Overhead” is NOT a Dirty Word

                               You gotta love light. ColiNOOB @pixabay

Hey! I’m back from vacation. And I missed you (well, kind of…in between churros, tapas, and gelato). Whaddaya know – I return and there’s even a new picture of me. But I’m ready to get back into the world of stewardship and development. So let’s go!
Just this morning my friend sent me a hilarious piece from The Onion. For those of you who don’t know, The Onion is a satirical (i.e. funny) website that pokes fun of just about anyone and everything.
Here’s the mock headline:
“Report: Majority of Money Donated at Church Doesn’t Make It to God”
The “article” goes on to state:

A shocking report released Monday by the Internal Revenue Service revealed that more than 65 percent of the money donated at churches across the world never reaches God. "Unfortunately, almost half of all collections go toward administrative expenses such as management, utilities, and clerical costs,” said Virginia Raeburn, a spokesperson for the Lord Almighty, adding another 25 percent of heavenly funding is needed to cover payroll for the angelic hierarchy. "People always assume God is filthy rich, but they’d be surprised to learn His net worth is only around $8 million – and most of that is tied up in real estate.” According to Raeburn, God currently has enough money saved to live comfortably throughout all eternity, but He may be forced to shutter a number of under-performing religions.

Pretty funny, right? Except, there’s something that’s not. Underlying the humor is a serious take away:
Stop being defensive about your overhead costs.
You, if you are clergy, are not an “add on.”
Your Administrative Assistant is not an annoying extra.
Your utilities are not boring.
You, your clerical help, and utilities are all part of ministry.
Without you, without someone helping in the office, without light, water, or electricity, ministry would cease…at least ministry as most people in your congregation recognize it.
Another example: I was at a fundraising dinner last night. The Executive Director proudly stated that 100% of all donations would go directly to kids and none would go for overhead costs. I disagree. Giving donors the impression that “overhead” is bad doesn't recognize the benefits of administrative costs. Costs like camp counselors, someone to hire camp counselors, someone to run background checks, accountants, building maintenance, the list goes on and on. Each of those indirectly helps kids.
That’s the benefit of a narrative budget. It gets people away from thinking “line item” (that’s for your Finance Team) and more about overall ministry. By focusing on the bigger picture, your mission becomes much clearer to the people who will be moved to give to your good work. Not sure about what a narrative budget looks like? Here are a couple of articles to get you started. “Telling Your Story through a Narrative Budget” and “The Narrative Budget – Take 2.”
You can let The Onion create all the chuckles it wants (and believe me, it does) but don’t let it, or anyone else, make you feel embarrassed about your worth – especially as it’s associated with overhead costs. You and your ministries are far too important to be silenced or mocked.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Let’s just say, she ate her way through Spain. She was 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. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann

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.

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