The process for developing and approving a new budget starts in June. Our fiscal year is always October 1 to September 30 of the following year. Thus June and July are the main months for preparing a new budget, and in August the elders approve a new budget so that it can be input into the system in September, ready to go when we hit October 1.
There are several things that help us, before June, to prepare for the budget process. We have a staff person here at DSC with the title of Finance Administrator, and she produces these reports:
- Four different financial reports each month so we can monitor all areas of income and expenditure.
- Every month she isolates each department's expenditures and runs a report for the department managers to view as they execute their own budgets.
- Every week she sends a report to five administrators on staff at DSC. This report includes: (1) giving for the past Sunday and week (over a third of our giving is now online); (2) the current balance in our general operating checking account; (3) the balance in Shelby (our accounting software; this is basically what the balance in the checking account would be if "all checks were cashed"); and (4) the amount given for church planting.
Then in June we enter into the actual budget planning process:
- This starts with a review of the income and expenditures through the year up to June.
- We also email all department managers to ask for their proposals for the coming fiscal year.
- With some department managers this results in meetings. As an example, since the missions area is 10% of the overall budget, the Finance Administrator and Administrative Pastor meet with the Missions Director several times.
- As ideas are roughed out for a first draft of the budget, the Administrative Pastor asks for counsel from several former elders or businessmen/women in the church.
- A first draft is submitted to the elder board. At DSC the elder board is the legal governing body of the church.
- Elders offer comments, and the budget goes through a second and third draft before final approval.
- The new budget is posted on the website for members to access.
Finally, we are always looking for ways to be better stewards of the resources God gives us. Please let us know if you see something in the budget, or see an area in our operations, and know of a way in which we could save money.
At Desert Springs Church (DSC) we treat money as we would any other resource that God gives us: it is to be used for spreading God's glory broader and deeper. In today's world of executives of large corporations absconding with millions of dollars or using company money to purchase private condos and vacations, its all the more imperative that local churches have proper accountability procedures in place.
This means double and even triple checks on what might work with just a single check. Or having congregational "eyes" on some documents that in past decades might have been reserved only for the governing board of the average church.
Along these lines I would like to explain, briefly, how we handle financial accountability, as well as linking members of DSC (or those in our membership class who are considering membership) to documents that include expenses in past fiscal years as well as the current budget. Keep in mind that we already have a weekly reporting measure in place in that our bulletin includes exact figures on what was taken in through giving in the previous week, with totals of the current month to date and the current fiscal year to date (as well as whether this is in the red or black compared to our budget to date). We also do an annual bulletin insert, with the previous years expenses printed.
In terms of money collected on weekend services, we have a trained money counting team that handles the money on Monday mornings. The team consists of three congregational members and the money and checks are handled in a private room. A double check is done on the counting, and then the cash, checks and totals are passed on to a fourth person who does a recount to make sure the totals are correct. Then the totals and money goes to our Church Finance Administrator (a staff position) for preparation for the bank deposit. The deposit is made by yet another individual, who brings back a receipt that the Finance Administrator checks against the totals. All members of this team have been trained in legal issues of both money handling and confidentiality.
A common question among churches is whether pastors, or a governing board, looks at individual giving records, whether they have access to the books to look at anyone's giving or whether to look at staff giving to make sure employees of the church are tithing. At DSC none of this happens.
In terms of the annual budget, as the member of the elder board designated as over the budget, I prepare a new budget every August. This begins in June with asking department managers (for instance, the youth minister who is over the middle school and high school budget) for their budget proposals.
The elder board, which is the governing board of DSC, makes decisions on the budget. Once the board approves a budget, the board then entrusts the church's Treasurer, the Church Finance Administrator, and myself to manage the budget. Thus, board of elders still gets reports on monthly income and expenses. Thus, there is a network of accountability between the governing board, the Church Finance Administrator (staff position), the church's Treasurer (who is a member of the church, but is also a CPA), and myself as administrative pastor.
Salary changes are determined, with recommendations made to the elder board, by an independent committee (a salary compensation committee) that meets annually. Staff elders, in fact any full-time staff, cannot sit on this committee so that we can avoid conflict of interest. Thus, past elders, business-minded congregational members, and consultants comprise this committee.
Sometimes we get questions such as, "Does the church tithe?" meaning do we give to needs outside our church, from what we take in? The answer is yes; our policy is to give at least 10% to missions and "mercy" needs outside of DSC.
Below please find a link to access DSC's past expense reports, and our current budget. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or if you are a member (or in our membership class) and do not have the password to access the documents below.
To give online, please visit our giving page.
Dr. Ronald L. Giese, Jr.
Our Current Budget, 2018-2019