Work on the annual budget begins in early August. And, it begins with projecting income. What kind of General Fund giving is reasonable to expect for the coming budget period? The most accurate way to project giving for the future is to use data from the past. Read on and develop a detailed understanding of how to approach the development of an Income Model for your church.
Please download and have this Income Model example ready as you read this post.
Weekly Data Collection
First and foremost, if you are not doing so already you have to collect data each week. At CCV we call this the “Stat Sheet.” The Stat Sheet is a document that is updated and published each week and distributed to the staff (and others) by Monday afternoon. It contains attendance and giving data for the previous weekend as well as “at a glance” data for each calendar year.
It’s very important to create something like a Stat Sheet. There’s an old saying in leadership, “If you aren’t measuring it, you probably aren’t managing it!” So … having a weekly look at the previous weekend’s “performance” (attendance, giving, baptisms, etc.) is a must.
The first section of your Income Model is the section that projects future attendance “behavior.” Will attendance grow, be relatively flat, or decline during the coming budget period? This is done by using actual “percent change” data from previous months/years.
The first order of business is to create (using any spreadsheet application) a table of Average Weekly Attendance data like the first table in the example.
From this data table, develop another table just like it that calculates the “percent change” from one month to the next. This creates a curve representing the past behavior of the attendance of your church. Some months are up and some are down. This curve along with actual “giving per capita” data will drive everything in the model.
The Percent Change table is the second table in the example.
The third table needed is another table of data. Do the same thing you did in the average weekly attendance table with your church’s “average weekly giving per capita” by month. This is the third table in the example.
Now, using these 3 data tables you can project the coming budget year based on the actuals from previous years. The first thing you must do is pick the year that you feel best represents the coming year in terms of attendance behavior. Is this going to be a “growth” year? Is the coming year going to be pretty flat in terms of growth?
You must also decide which year to use when it comes to giving per capita. Will the coming year be a year much like the last in terms of giving per capita? Or, is your church planning to do something fundamentally different that would affect giving? For example, your church might be planning to change the timing of its annual stewardship series. The church might be planning something different in terms of stewardship teaching or maybe kicking off a capital campaign. All of these considerations go into two major decisions: what data should be used for “attendance behavior” and “giving per capita?”
With these decisions made, it’s just a matter of building another 3 tables: projected attendance, average weekly giving, and monthly giving. Use the projected average weekly attendance for a given month to calculate the average weekly giving for that month. From there, a table with the number of weeks in the coming month allows a monthly total giving to be calculated.
Projecting Average Weekly Attendance for 2013 based on the actual data from 2012 results in the table in the example. The “starting point” for the data is December 2012’s estimated value, which is 2011’s actual.
Based on the projected average weekly attendance and the giving per capita data, a couple of additional tables need to be developed. Multiplying the projected average weekly attendance by the giving per capita for that month results in a projected Average Weekly Giving. This data is averaged to provide an average weekly need for the entire year.
Finally, multiply the average weekly giving number by the number of weeks in that month (4 or 5 depending on the month) to build a table of projected Monthly General Fund Income. These numbers are summed to provide the total projected General Fund Income for the year.
That’s pretty much it. Remember, you’re projecting the future based on past data. Take that into consideration and be sure to use the correct year for your projection.