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In the July 25, 2005, e-mail, "Should We Switch Our Fiscal Year?" I wrote about changing fiscal years and further stated that I "would like to learn from others whose fiscal year is other than the calendar year. What are the benefits? What are the disadvantages? What do you recommend a congregation do to implement such a change?"
I received a healthy number of e-mail responses. The following is a summary.
"Should We Switch Our Fiscal Year?" Summary of letters
Here are the responses. Click on the name to read the letter in its entirety.
John Clasen -- Our congregation has not changed. All the program people would like everything on a rhythm. The financial people all went "Arrgghh!" It can't be done! He is waiting to hear from others.
Dave Peterson -- The program year leads to ministry. The budget follows program. "We give to God, never to a budget!"
Scott Searl - Don't do it! It's not worth the effort and in the long term will not produce growth in giving. Simple is always the best plan. They have disconnected their fiscal year and their pledging year. Their fiscal year is built around the program year while the pledge year is a calendar one. Council members understand this orientation but we never talk about it publicly.
David Penman - We switched to the spring cycle some seven or eight years ago. One advantage is that in the fall routine of "back-to-school," many events affected families with children. A stewardship emphasis was competing for time, resources and attention.
Rich Hill -- We have used the July 1 fiscal year for a few years. Our anxiety is lower.
Paul Ziese -- A September--August fiscal year corresponds to our pre-school. Stewardship drives between April 15 and Mother's Day work for us since people feel more assured of their finances after tax day.
Steve Hasbrouck -- It is not working. People are uncomfortable and confused. We don't get our pledges in before people leave for September. I would like to get back to the calendar year.
Rick Lund, an Army church administrator, compares business and government fiscal year cycles and concludes that while the fiscal year change makes sense, it needs a congregation with a long-tenured and clear-minded (from business perspective) pastor or church administrator.
Charlie Mays -- I have introduced a fiscal year to four congregations. The mission budget process is then in sync with the actual rhythm of the congregation. The fiscal year arrangement is helpful if the congregational leadership understands the rationale and makes a long-term commitment to this approach.
Margie Back -- Our congregation did change the fiscal year about 10 years ago and tried it for two or three years. We were constantly disappointed with the change. We didn't seem coordinated financially. It gave people the idea we wanted them to make a commitment to a budget that was already determined.
Dean Piper -- I recommend that churches stick with the calendar year for budgeting purposes but hold their financial stewardship appeal in the spring in order to separate it from their budget.
Tom Miller -- A July-June fiscal year was in place when he became their pastor. It seems to flow pretty well. Large gifts at the end of the year come in the middle of our fiscal year and not the end. An early spring stewardship campaign had an excellent response.
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