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Last updated 1st July 2020

COVID19 Advice for treasurers

We are aware that many parish clergy, churchwardens, treasurers and PCC members (as charity trustees) will be concerned about the effect of prolonged church closures on parish finances.  This page is intended to provide links to guidance as it is issued and below that will provide suggestions and resources.

Managing church finances as lockdown eases (01/07/2020)

David Barlow, Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance writes;

When the 2020 Parish Share booklet was prepared during Autumn 2019, none of us could have predicted recent events.  Although our buildings are gradually reopening for private prayer and also soon for public worship, some churches, particularly those with a high rental or fundraising income have had a significant drop in revenue. 

Many parishes have already been proactive in responding and have taken action to review income and outgoings and prepare revised cash flow projections for 2020.  We’ve asked all parishes to make maintaining Parish Share a priority.  In his introduction to the 2020 Parish Share booklet Bishop Julian noted that ‘as a diocese with minimal historic assets, we can only meet the cost of stipendiary clergy if our people give generously just as Jesus has given so generously to us.’ 

As we move through this year, below (and in word format here) is a checklist of seven stewardship steps all PCC’s should be taking to ensure that generosity continues to be encouraged and expressed.  If you need help with any of these steps, our Stewardship Resourcing Officer stephanie.rankin@blackburn.anglican.org will be able to assist you.  If you have carried out these steps and find that you need to reduce your Parish Share contributions, contact ruth.mcgaughey@blackburn.anglican.org if you have not already done so.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2Corithinans 8v13-14 ‘Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there will be equality.  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.’

David Barlow
Chair of Diocesan Board of Finance

 

ACTION

RESPONSE

1

How have you been regularly promoting the principles of generosity gift and grace as part of your online services?  Have you made use of the ready-made customisable animation suitable for adding to your website, A Church Near You page, Facebook page and within your online services to encourage giving during the crisis?  There is more guidance here.

 

2

Have you made online giving options available?  If not, you are advised to set up the extremely simple and cost effective SumUp solution from Parish Buying.  There are more details on our website here.

 

3

Did you prepare a cash flow projection and are you regularly updating it?  If you have not prepared one, a suitable template is available from our website here

 

4

If your parish has access to reserves, have you made use of these?  Reserves are for emergencies, but now is such a time.  Many churches are using reserves rather than reducing Parish Share.  All parishes should have a reserves policy and you can find more information about these including examples here

 

5

If your parish has employed staff who have been placed on Furlough but will be returning to work, have you explored the option of combining part time employment with part time furlough from 1 July 2020.

 

6

Have you applied for any grants or looked into online fundraising events?  Ecclesiastical Insurance has created a fundraising hub containing information about emergency grants for churches together with some suggestions for fundraising if your church relies on fundraising to meet outgoings.   
Some churches are also eligible for the Hospitality Grant of £10,000k if they have a hall assessed for business rates, even if those are zero-rated.

 

7

Have you investigated letting your hall for emergency use to schools looking for additional space or for use by local council services?  Is your hall space being advertised online, and at costs that compare well with other facilities in the area?

 

Parish Vision Fund - COVID19 response initiatives (01/07/2020)

If you have an initiative that will support your parish's response to COVID19 and would like to be considered for Parish Vision Fund funding (up to £2,000) to support its implementation, please contact your relevant Archdeacon in the first instance. 

Applications are particularly welcomed from parishes seeking to install projector and screens and/or wi-fi to support public worship after 4th July.

Re-opening churches and safe giving (25/06/2020)

Now that churches are able to re-open for private prayer (and also for public worship in early July), it’s important to consider how to enable giving safely within our buildings. The Diocese of York has produced some helpful points to consider, which are reproduced below. This advice follows both the Church of England and the Government’s guidance on the re-opening of churches

Make precautions for cash

It is important to say that handling cash increases the risk of infection. In view of this, we do not recommend promoting cash giving, particularly as all other forms of giving pose much less risk. If you are going to accept cash donations, make sure you have assessed the whole process, including thinking of those who will be counting and banking the money, and so will be exposed to risk. For those people, provide appropriate precautions including gloves and hand sanitisers.

Encourage regular giving

Ensure that there is a mechanism to enable planned giving from your worshipping community. Using the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS) or Standing Orders provides a reliable and regular income for your church, and carries no infection risk.

Explore contactless giving options

These options are accessible and safe, often requiring no contact and meaning the donation goes directly into the church bank account. Where digital units include touch screens, we recommend putting hand sanitisers next to the unit, and cleaning wipes which can be used to clean the screen between each donation. Parish Buying have a really good list of recommended suppliers, which can be found here. When deciding which unit is most appropriate for your church, make sure you think about security, if you need a charging point nearby, and if you need WiFi for the unit to work.

Get a QR code

QR codes are a really safe way to encourage simple giving—individuals simply use their phone to scan your unique QR code, which allows them to make a donation. QR codes are easy to set up, and Parish Buying has a guidance page on how to do this, which you can see by clicking here (or for instructions about how to do this with a different provider, watch this video). You can then put this QR code everywhere! On posters, notice sheets, emails, cards, banners, notice boards, and on-screen.

Share your story

Find ways to tell people what their giving is enabling in your church. Use notice boards to share your vision, and display pictures of ministries through which your church serves.

Thank your givers

This is such an important part of relationships with givers. It’s really easy to thank people, as simple as putting up a ‘thank you’ poster near to your donation points.

Practical financial advice during Covid 19 (22/04/2020)

Income - for church members

  • For those who use online banking, the easiest way is to set up a standing order.  Your church treasurer will be able to provide you with the bank sort code and account number or this may be on a giving page on your church website. 
  • Email your church treasurer and ask for a standing order form.  You may find that they have added this to your website.  You can print this out and post it to your bank (the address will be on your cheque book).
  • As an individual you could set up an account with a giving agent like Stewardship or Charites Aid Foundation
  • If you are unable to use one of these methods, please continue to prepare your Giving Envelopes and bring them all when the church buildings reopen

The Charities Aid Foundation have a COVID update here . They have also provided  information on CAF Donate which sits on a church’s website and allows the congregation to make a single payment, using their credit or debit card, whilst watching the service online. The donor can also confirm if the donation is eligible for Gift Aid, in which case the Gift Aid will be reclaimed from HMRC on the church’s behalf.

Income - for Treasurers and Gift Aid Secretaries (Updated 2 April 2020)

  • Consider adding a standing order form to your website for people to download and complete.  There is a template you can use here which just needs you to replace the text in red with the details for your church.  A Gift Aid form is also attached which people can choose to complete and return to you.
  • Consider enrolling your church into an online giving platform (IKnowChurch, ChurchSuite, ChurchInsight etc) which enables people to donate by card from your website or A Church Near You site or through a link that you can email or add to FaceBook without needing to open their own giving account.  You can share this link with others through your website, email or Facebook page.  This will require someone who is admin on your Church Management System to set this up, but you will need to provide them with some details.  Check out the present free subscriptions on ChurchInsight (free until 31 October) and iKnowChurch (free until 30 September).  Card payment charges will still be payable but it will be a % of money you may not have otherwise received. 
  • If you have thought about software for your Gift Aid or church accounts, or presently use Data Developments Donations Coordinator, consider using moving to Data Developments MyGivingOnline.  This is presently free for 90 days or until services start again and will enable giving via your website (and through links to your website).  

Expenditure 

Look to reduce costs wherever practicable, including: 

  •  Heating/lighting – turn-off heating or reduce thermostat where practicable in church and other buildings. Turn off-heating completely when the warmer weather arrives. 
  •  Electrical appliances – please see the separate note on preparing your church buildings for extended closure – there may be some electrical items that you can switch off completely at the socket. 
  • If you employ staff (eg parish administrator, organist, cleaner) please contact Andrew Cooke for advice before reducing or stopping paying salaries and/or laying off of staff.  Where they are employed they may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and he will be able to advise you.   

Cash Flow management 

PCCs should aim to maintain a positive current account balance and not run in to an overdraft. 

  • Review where cash funds are held and transfer from any ‘savings’ account(s) to current account as required. NB consider the notice period required to access any “savings” accounts.    
  • Discuss with investment providers whether there can be access to fixed-term investments early. You may be concerned about the status of your PCC investments. Please visit the CCLA website https://www.ccla.co.uk/about-us/an-update-on-recentmarket-volatility 

Suggested priority order for reducing payments: 

  • Utility bills – talk to providers early and offer to pay smaller amounts  
  • Insurance – approach provider to request spreading payments 
  • Have a conversation with your clergy about whether it is financially possible for them to defer payment of expenses 
  • Defer all but essential maintenance to church buildings eg only work to keep buildings water-tight/safe/secure. 
  • Don’t order any new materials for church services and other activities eg communion wine, wafers 
  • Please remember that even in these difficult times our diocese is dependent on the income received from parish share payments to pay clergy stipends. Please could you be in touch with the DBF Deputy Diocesan Secretary (Finance) Ruth.Mcgaughey @blackburn.anglican.org, if you think you may not be able to keep up your regular payments. 
  • NB If you currently contribute parish share by sending a cheque to Clayton House (which is now closed), please would you strongly consider setting up a standing order via your bank? 

Stewardship have produced a cash flow explanation here and a very simple statement https://www.stewardship.org.uk/downloads/plan-a.pdf

We have produced a spreadsheet template here that you can download to prepare your own cash flow forecast

It is recommended that expenditure is split into 3 ‘silos’

  • Silo 1 – Expenditure that is fixed or that is essential for your church to continue operating. This might include mortgage repayments (although see below), certain staff salaries, software licences etc. 
  • Silo 2 – Expenditure that you would prefer to keep going for as long as possible e.g. some staff salaries, payments to mission partners, relief payments to families suffering financial hardship etc. 
  • Silo 3 – Expenditure that is no longer necessary and can be stopped immediately or after giving a short period of notice. This might include heating and cleaning of church buildings and perhaps some administration costs.

Gift Aid Small Donation Scheme (07/05/20)

The Church of England has received confirmation from HMRC that, where churches normally make use of the Gift Aid Small Donation Scheme (GASDS) in relation to small gifts given in weekly envelopes, they are happy to accept gift aid claims for separate weekly envelopes containing £30 or less given when Church buildings re-open or multiple gifts given in one envelope with a declaration stating how much was donated each week and the relevant dates.

Government financial guidance for the charity sector (07/05/2020)

This short guide includes comments about the potential applicability of these measures to support churches, along with key points to be aware of and basic information about accessing the schemes. It also includes details of support available from some other relevant organisations too.

National church guidance (24/03/20)

The parish resources webpage is being regularly updated by the National Church of England team: https://www.parishresources.org.uk/coronavirus/

On-line giving options (24/04/2020)

Give Now Page/Button on A Church Near You (ACNY)

Churches can add a donations page to their A Church Near You profile. Guidance on how churches can add this to their ACNY profile is here: https://achurchnearyou.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360007655378-Setting-up-a-donations-page

Giving Video on ACNY 

A short animation for churches to use during virtual services and more widely online to encourage giving is available. There are a couple of versions of different lengths for use on social media too. The video talks about the need for people to give and asks those that can give at this time to do so.

We hope that this will be really useful for churches less confident about talking about giving and an added bonus for those who are already doing lots of great things. Churches will be able to customise this video with their own details using ACNY, in a similar way to the #followthestar and #livelent campaigns. Hopefully it will be live on ACNY early next week, but for now, please find it here: https://vimeo.com/410988827

Guidance on using online giving as part of virtual services/online 

There is some new guidance on the Parish Resources website to help churches get going with encouraging giving online using the new features above.

https://www.parishresources.org.uk/encouraging-giving-online/

DBF funeral fees (22/06/2020)

Following the decision announced by Bishop Julian in a letter to incumbents, curates and PTOs in April to suspend funeral fees for a temporary period of time, the DBF Standing Committee has produced some helpful guidance in the form of FAQs. These can be found here 

Bishop Julian and David Barlow (Chair of the DBF) wrote to clergy on 28th May explaining the DBF Standing Committee's decision to reinstate DBF funeral fees when it is possible to hold a funeral in a church building. The full letter can be found here. A letter confirming the reinstatement of DBF fees from 4th July was sent to clergy on 19th June and can be found here.

Selling church treasures - Diocesan Chancellor's note of caution (05/05/2020)

Those with responsibility for maintaining the building and paying the bills will be anxious to reduce expenditure, but also be thinking how else they might raise funds and keep the books balanced. 

It is inevitable that thoughts may turn to the possibility of selling church ‘treasures’ - some unused and ‘redundant’ communion plate, that old picture that the vicar acquired 30 years ago and nobody likes, some bits of old stained glass kept in the vestry, a piece of furniture stored in the gallery after it was removed in the re-ordering way back, and so on. The law relating to such items can be complicated.

I need to say to you, gently but firmly, that the sale of such items can only be done - if at all- by a formal petition for a faculty through the Consistory Court, that results in a Faculty being granted. 

The full text of the Chancellor's note to the Parish Resilience Group can be found here.