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In a recent newsletter I wrote 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?"
Click on A SUMMARY OF LETTERS to view the others responses.
David Penman Writes:
My experience is limited to what I observed in my last home church as a lay person, but we made the switch to the spring cycle some seven or eight years ago and it seems to still be working - even after they changed pastors three and a half years ago.
Here are some of the things that I remembered being said in support of the change (although I don't know how valid these "arguments" are - they were presented none the less).
First, a late fall campaign begins to encroach on peoples Christmas spending plans. (I know, one would hope that would be a positive thing, but in this materialistic society, that is not always so.)
Another issue about the fall was the routine of "back to school" and how all of the events that affected families with children, both in and out of church, were really just getting into the swing of things, so if one was going to make a "stewardship emphasis" one was competing for time, resources, and attention. (If a community was lucky enough to have a year-round stewardship program, which I think is rare, then this might not be a big issue.)
As I remember it there was only one spring advantage issue that was presented - your "end of the year" catch-up and the plan to commit for next year are hitting the household about the same time as the IRS REFUND!
(Well, that was what our pastor said - and maybe his sense of the community was that many were getting refunds. We had been paying at this time of the year, so for us it didn't make for a very good argument.)
The one last thing I'll say that I think helped make it successful was the fact that the automated record keeping computer program that the church used had the capability to spit out a Jan - Dec giving report for family tax purposes as well as the annual church year giving report in June.
I am unaware of any statistics that our financial people may have tried to capture to see if the change made any difference in the giving. I doubt it though. And I doubt with their particular setting and the OTHER changes that went on in the church that a comparison would not have been possible.
There's two cents worth of what I observed. From a personal view one thing that I think might be a benefit to a congregation that is in a stewardship slump or rut - the dramatic change of asking for pledges in the spring might be enough of a change that new things might begin to happen. That is a short term gain, of course.
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Adam Copeland serves as director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders.
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