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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.
Charlie Mays Writes:
I have instituted a July 1-June 30 fiscal year in all four of the congregations that I have served, beginning in about 1970 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairfax, Virginia. While I have not carefully followed what happened in each of my three former congregations after I left, it is my perception that all have reverted to a calendar year budget planning. I do not know the reasons for this because it seemed to me that it worked well while I was there.
The rationale for moving to a fiscal year mission budget process was to place the beginning of the fiscal year more in sync with the actual rhythm of congregational life. September is when things get going again. A planning cycle then becomes more closely aligned with the ending of a cycle (school year) and the beginning of a new one.
It also meant that our financial stewardship emphases came at time when we weren't "competing" with a myriad of "end of year" efforts by charities. We usually set Pentecost as commitment Sunday. Our Annual Meetings were held between the middle and end of June.
The liabilities are that following a fiscal year mission budgeting cycle means the congregation is "out of step" with the accounting years of other expressions of the church as well as agencies and organizations that the congregation may also support. It is dependent upon the Pastor and the church council being committed over the long haul to "training" the congregation to make fiscal year mission planning and budgeting an integral part of the life of the congregation.
Overall, it is my judgment that the fiscal year arrangement is helpful if the congregational leadership understands the rationale and makes a long-term commitment to this approach.
Although the information I have provided is sketchy, I hope it is helpful to you. I would be willing to visit with people who are interested in exploring this in more depth so that I could address specific questions or concerns rather than try to guess about what they think they need to know.
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