Symposium Slides & Intel on Budgeting in Uncertain Times

person holding string lightsForty-nine people joined us for our March 27 weekly Zoom Symposium on Budgeting in Uncertain Times. We hope our slides and video, as well as the sharing of ideas among congregations, help you as you move forward!

The symposium covered some ideas from our initial blog post on budgeting in uncertain times, some additional strategies, and polled congregants on their greatest budgeting challenge now. 

Here’s the percentage breakdown on the greatest budgeting challenges indicated:

32% – few funds available outside of the operating budget

30% – capacity in stewardship to gather projected giving

16% – gaining agreement on approach from lay and professional leaders

16% – expertise to do financial projections, allowing for the shifting dynamics

 5% – saved/invested funds flexible enough to use for this challenge

The last third of the symposium was used for breakout groups, where congregants shared ideas that they would use for budgeting moving forward:

  • Stop unnecessary services: trash, recycling, turn down heat
  • Make it OK to pledge less but still pledge, rather than not pledging or paying at all
  • Use text giving (e.g. Text 2 Give; GivePlus+) and GoFundMe
  • Use a ministerial discretion fund for congregants AND staff needs
  • Be sure to include info in the online services about giving
  • Encourage congregants to set up their bank to send checks 
  • Show a slide during virtual services to remind people they can use PayPal and regular mail
  • Have virtual circle conversations for pledge drive to replace in-person cottage meetings
  • Minister’s weekly e-blasts can promote and cross purpose stewardship and caring messages
  • Be flexible in both the pledge request and periodically reviewing budget for realism
  • Contact creditors to see if can postpone bills temporarily
  • Shorter term budget – 6 months or shorter 
  • Stay connected and emphasize relationship with the hope that it will pay dividends
  • Do second ask / appeal for funds
  • No expansions for new year (ex. no intern)
  • Don’t spend anything that you don’t have

At the end of symposium, participants were encouraged to send us their topic requests so we can address them in a blog post, a future symposium or both! Even if you did not participate in the symposium, please use the comment feature below or email us at to share an idea or a question.

Thank you to all who are helping our congregations with stewardship during these unprecedented times! To quote Howard Zinn, who authored our closing words:

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. …

If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however a small way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. … To live now … in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Join us Fridays, for the near term, at 10am PT / 11am MT / 12pm CT / 1pm ET, for a symposium on stewardship tips and sharing of ideas.