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Better ways with money

by
08 May 2012

All treasurers should read this, says Richard Holman

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Grow Your Church’s Income: A guide to securing long-term financial health
Maggie Durran

Canterbury Press £12.99 (978-1-84825-039-0)
Church Times Bookshop £11.70

CHURCH TREASURERS come in many shapes and sizes — from the smooth profes­sionals who deal with millions of pounds in their day job to the “I’m only doing it be­cause no one else volunteered” types.

Frequently, the parish that can boast the first is no better placed than one that has had to resort to the latter. Work pressures and the sense that parish finance is little more than petty cash can lead the professionals to leave some at least of their expertise in their offices (mea culpa).

So all treasurers would benefit from read­ing Maggie Durran’s comprehensive guide to sound management of church finance — and then reviewing the way in which money matters are handled in their parishes. The title, Grow Your Church’s Income, may make the book sound a little sexier than it actually is; and, if you’re looking for lots of whizzy fund-raising ideas, you may be a little disap­pointed. But Durran, a specialist in church management and planning, knows the “99 per cent perspiration/one per cent inspira­tion” rule, and she covers a great deal of ground — from the inevitable diocesan quota to heating, lighting, and even “mugs, marmalade, and Christmas pudding” — in a thorough and practical way.

Questions such as “Are any of your fund-raising activities raising too little to be worth while?” bring commercial analysis to bear on traditional events that may be giving a very poor return for the work that goes into them. Financial sacred cows are examined and carefully assessed.

Perhaps one of the best compliments one can pay this book is to say that it should be required reading for parish clergy, as well as finance committees and probably entire PCCs. The focus is on careful management of finance, and the language is not beyond any financial layman, while the practical approach requires no specialist accounting expertise. That might, however, undermine the frequently heard clerical mantra: “I’m no good with figures and money.”

Richard Holman is the parish treasurer for the Putney Team Ministry.

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