Since church buildings have been closed for worship, many churches are finding that being sustainable financially has been more difficult. People who are used to giving by plate or envelope schemes will not have been able to make regular contributions in the usual way and churches have had to be imaginative in providing other ways for people to contribute to life of the church.
Church House has been keen to offer support and advice in this area, building on the Giving Conference held in February. Officers are helping with Gift Aid claims and digital giving options including Direct Debits, Donate Now buttons on websites, and fundraising via social media and shopping.
Clergy have reported a generous response from parishioners when they have broached the issue of sustainable giving.
Revd Jo Farnworth from St Andrews Droylsden said:
I followed up on the letter from Bishop David, asking people to send in their set aside giving as cheques or as direct bank transfers. I sent out Standing Order forms and set up a Donate now button on our ACNY page website, with help from the Digital Giving Officer at Church House.
I have been amazed by the response! Earlier this week, I went to the bank with 560 and since getting home have received another 300 in cheques. I know another 60 has been paid directly into the bank, someone else has just put a cheque in the post and at least one person is setting up the Standing Order.
I think that the response has been partly motivated by a sense of gratitude that although the church building is shut, people have felt that the church has continued to care for them and they haven't been abandoned. This isn't just due to the work I've put in but also to the love and care that congregation members have shown one another through phone calls and practical help. My sense is that we will have a stronger sense of community when we eventually return to the building. I hope that this generosity is replicated across the diocese and that through God's grace we find ourselves in a better financial situation than we might have expected.
Revd Judith Cooper, Incumbent at St Peter and St Paul Westleigh, said:
Since the lockdown began, we have been communicating regularly with parishioners by sending a pastoral letter, prayer resources and news through the post. In the May letter, I wrote about giving and our treasurers wrote a more formal letter, reminding people that bills still had to be paid and that our regular income and events income had more or less stopped.
We sent out our banking details, Standing Order forms and details of who to make cheques payable to.A week later St Peters had collected around 1000 and St Pauls a little more! And it is still coming in!