*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Passing round the plate

26 September 2014

"If you don't ask, you don't get. . ."

THE autumn is the best time to consider the church's financial way forward. It is a great time to establish a systematic approach to raising the funds to keep the church going. Then you are ready to make good New Year resolutions.

It is reasonable for members of the congregation to finance their own activity in the church, from service sheets to heating and lighting. But it is often not realistic for them to find the funds to support all kinds of added activities during the rest of the week.

Many churches still celebrate a number of weddings and baptisms for people who do not attend church, and do not therefore contribute to the finances to support these events. At least find out the cost of such events. Calculate the hours per year taken up by these occasional offices, and so establish their proportion of the overall cost of running the building.

Then work out how to encourage these occasional visitors to contribute financially. A simple envelope placed on every seat, for every event, can state the cost per hour of using the church, and ask the reader to consider a donation (gift-aided if possible). If you don't ask, you don't get. Declutter your noticeboards, and place simple information on an easy-to-read display, saying that the readers' gift is important for keeping the church open for their use.

Many churches have so many leaflets and posters on display that they become simply wallpaper; so it may be time to make a list of what should be on display at what kind of event. And store the rest for an appropriate time.

During weekday opening for drop-in visitors, have envelopes for donations available on a small table alongside the visitors' book. The message "Please help us maintain this wonderful building for everyone's use" could be printed on them.

If you have services such as civic events, then either a considerable donation should be made by whoever is leading the event, or, as well as envelopes on the seats, you could have a retiring collection (retiring collections do result in gifts, but are not so well supported as an offertory during one of the hymns). This is not too "in your face" if you are careful; but, again, if you don't ask, you don't get.

At occasional festivals, when everyone turns out, or at least a larger crowd than usual, have an informal welcome at the beginning of the service to explain what is going on, and mention the gift envelopes on the seats, and that the envelopes may be placed in the offertory plate at the appropriate time. When introducing the offertory hymn, say that this is the point when the plate will be passed: many visitors or occasional churchgoers do not know when this point will come, and are left flurrying in pockets and purses. Give them time to consider their gift.

Review the letting rates for the church, and increase them every year - at least to the level of inflation, and preferably in line with the inflation in utility prices. Annual small increases will be met more genially than occasional hikes.

Send issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.