I'm trying to put the numbers together for next year's budget, but I'm getting little cooperation from the church's ministry leaders. Information isn't submitted on time—or at all—and the board doesn't mandate compliance. What should I do?
It is difficult if you don't have the cooperation of ministry leaders or the board. Without cooperation from these principal parties, you are certainly fighting an uphill battle. The best way to get ministry leaders to participate in a meaningful way is to include an element of accountability. Talk to your senior pastor about including budget results in the annual evaluation for ministry leaders. That means effort needs to be placed on tying the budget to ministry objectives and measuring results on a consistent basis. To get the board more engaged, consider some practical training that includes information on historical trends (without overwhelming them). Information and education are power! If they clearly understand how financial results drive or restrain ministry, they will likely begin to take more interest in the process. So, do what you can to help them realize the budget is there not to keep them from doing ministry but to make sure funds are available for the ministry they see as critical. When both ministry leaders and the board see the budget process as a tool to focus the efforts of the church, and not just a constraint, you will hopefully gain greater cooperation.
—Vonna Laue, CPA and editorial advisor for Church Finance Today