Our church’s budget has increased 172% over the last decade. That’s due to God’s blessing, but it’s also a product of good presentation (amongst other factors). To inform and compel, we have to continue finding new, creative ways to present our budget each year.
Some people will give financially either way, but our budget presentations are for the other people—those who have means to give but need a vision for their money, and also those who give very little and need a God-reason for their giving to increase.
What goes into creating our budget, and later, presenting it? Here are some key components to make it compelling:
• Present a process that’s prayed over throughout its iterations.
• Give people the opportunity to speak into the process and ask questions. We do this by presenting the budget drafts to multiple groups in order to get their thoughts. Two weeks before a congregational vote, we host town hall meetings to address questions. Read more about our church’s unique governance.
• List easily identifiable categories and their budget amount. We do this at town hall meetings and on the web. We also list the previous year’s budgeted amount and the % change, if applicable.
• Use multiple mediums to promote the budget and vote. We use two: a video and a printed brochure.
We strive to make the video story-based, while still providing clear numerical information. We give numbers, but also frame them in a way that’s helpful to tell the stories behind the dollars.
The printed brochure changes from year to year. It acts as an advertisement for how God uses our monetary gifts.
We’re blessed to have a great Communications Team who helps produce these. But the same things can be done for presenting small budgets, and it can fit to your church’s situation or scale.
The key is to appeal to as many audiences and learning styles as possible. Use figures for left brainers, graphs for visual learners, stories for all, and art forms for the artists. All of these can still point toward how the church is going to use the money God allocates to it through the givers.
Here are a few tips on how to plan your presentation:
• Consider your different audiences at each point. Remember you’ll have to have communicate multiple times, in multiples ways, to multiple groups in order to get the message out. Your budget presentation has to be agile and contextualized.
• Present broad buckets for those less inclined towards numbers, and use words they understand.
• Be specific enough to answer most accountants’ questions. Town hall meetings can also help address higher level concerns.
• Communicate how your dollars are accounted for. Refer to audits, finance teams, or whatever measures you use for checks and balances. Givers want to trust you. Make that easy for them.