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COVID-19 Financial Giving Guidance for Churches

We are aware this is a very challenging time and many more questions and concerns will be asked as time goes on. The following guidance on financial concerns is an early response to provide answers to some of the questions already being asked. Please send in others as they arise, as if we don’t know the answer, we may be able to signpost you to someone who does. We recognise the need and concerns all of our local churches have for ongoing financial support over the coming weeks and months during Convid-19.

The hallmarks and characteristics of the Christian church are its inherent love and kindness in the face of adversity. In 2 Corinthians 8 we read about the grace God gave to the early church during a very severe trial. That grace led to overflowing joy and generosity.

In every church throughout our network of Baptist congregations, ministry and mission continues to be delivered even in these times of challenge and restrictions. However, this is only sustainable through the ongoing generosity of those who support the church.

You may be concerned as to how your congregation’s income will be impacted over the next few months while buildings are closed, and gatherings are cancelled. Some churches have already begun to find different ways to maintain congregational giving that enables the continuation of effective mission and ministry.

The Baptists Together website has information for churches who require urgent financial support. Please follow this link.

As you consider the needs to the Christian community, please also give consideration to the church’s generosity in the grace of giving to other ministries i.e. Food Banks etc which are desperately needing support during this time of crisis.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

My church income relies significantly on cash donations from visitors and at services, or from hall bookings. What can we do?

With the suspension of public worship and social distancing measures, churches that rely on hall bookings or offerings taken at public worship may find that they face a significant income shortfall in the months ahead.

There are a range of alternatives to cash that you can explore, which are not reliant on close or face to face contact. These mechanisms can enable one-off donations from people or act as alternative ways to give for those who regularly donate by cash. As our church buildings are now closed, consider emailing or writing to your community to let them know how to give. Please be sensitive in the way in which this is expressed. You might want to add a link to an online giving platform during a live streamed service or to your social media pages.

Is it possible to give through mobile giving?

Text Giving – please follow the link to find out more: https://www.parishresources.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Text-Giving-2020.pdf

QR Codes – A QR code is a unique code made up of small black and white squares that can be read by the camera or a QR code reader on a smartphone. It can be printed onto anything that you print on paper, such as a pew card, an order of service, parish magazine, poster, banner or card. For more information please follow this link: https://www.parishbuying.org.uk/categories/giving-and-payments/solutions/thyngs

Receiving Online Donations – via your website and link to email and your social media channels. Some providers offer a ‘donate now button’ you can link to in live streamed services. For more information please follow this link:  https://www.parishresources.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Receiving-Online-Donations-2020.pdf

Is it possible to make contactless or card payments?

During this period of closure please consider investing in contactless card reader as so many people don’t carry cash it gives you more chance of receiving a donation once your building reopens. For more information please follow this link:   https://www.parishbuying.org.uk/categories/giving-and-payments

Should we handle cash?

There is currently no recommendation not to handle cash and as long as banks remain open you should aim to bank it. There is evidence that coronavirus can stay on surfaces for several days, so you should take the following precautions when handling cash:

  • Wash your hands before and after counting cash (coins or notes) or wear disposable gloves 
    • Be extremely careful not to touch your face or lick your fingers during the counting process
    • Clean surfaces regularly with disinfectant
    • Store cash securely in sealed plastic bags before banking

Some people give cash to remain anonymous. The person could be encouraged to have a conversation with the church treasurer in strict confidence.

If people are saving up their giving to offer when you can meet as church again, it would be helpful to let the treasurer know in order for the church to budget appropriately. People should be made aware that they not contractually committed to any amount they state. The amount stated is an estimation and a person’s circumstances may change.  

Can people drop off their giving at church?

If people are taking their daily exercise and walking past the church, they could drop their offering in to the church office. However, stress that you do not suggest this option. Stress that people need to comply with the government advice to stay at home. This option is only possible if a person lives very near to the church and would be walking that way while taking, their once a day outdoor exercise. Please be aware of the government guidelines, which minimise any risk of spreading the virus. Consideration needs to be made regarding security of gifts which are left in an empty building. Please check with your insurance company in regard to cover if the church is broken into and money taken.

We rely on regular giving given in cash through an envelope system, what should we do?

Now is a good time to encourage those who make their regular gifts by cash in envelopes to consider giving by standing order or direct debit as appropriate, even if on a temporary basis.

Re-assure those who may well continue to prefer to give in cash you welcome their faithfulness and commitment. They may be willing to keep their cash giving in envelopes until such a time as they are able to pass it on. Your church treasurer may well appreciate an indication of how much this is likely to amount to if the current situation continues for longer than anticipated.

How can we encourage people to make a donation?

You may want to adapt this wording to encourage people who might ordinarily make donations:

Our church relies on free-will giving and donations to maintain the level of care and support to everyone in this community. Now more than ever, please consider giving generously to support our mission and ministry. We appreciate that this is a difficult time for many, with circumstances changing for people daily. We are not asking people for money, but do wish to make it possible for those who have a heart to give in spite of the unprecedented circumstances we are all in together. Thank you for your support.

Posted by Gary Woodall