FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF HONOLULU | AUGUST 2016
THE HUNT FOR BLACK DECEMBER
Dealing with the Church Budget Deficit
As we launch our Acts 1:8 Appeal, the issue of our
step out believing that if we answer God’s call for our
church deficit has been raised by a number of people
ministries, AND exercise good stewardship, He will
in the congregation, so we interviewed Executive
resource His church. It’s amazing how many times His
Coordinator Ron Mathieu to get some perspective.
providence and timing have coincided with our fiscal
FPC: What is the difference between FPC’s “debt” and “deficit”? Ron: Our $1.1M debt is the balance remaining from
year accounting! But we also track trends very carefully, and our projections have been fairly accurate.
what we borrowed to purchase and renovate our
FPC: So if it always seems to work out, why does the
church always make a plea for more at the end of
Our 2016 deficit is the difference between what we
have spent for church operations (ministry expenses,
Ron: Because the deficit is a very real situation, and
salaries, and overhead) and what we have collected
our congregation’s giving is the solution. If people
for those expenses. As of this writing it is $307K.
aren’t aware of the need, they understandably may
FPC: This seems to happen every year. Why is that? Ron: The problem is a well-established donation pattern wherein our congregation historically gives 22% in each of the first three quarters, and 34% in the fourth quarter, with most of that received in December (often the last week!). Expenses, on the other hand, tend to even out across the year. This timing “mis-match” produces a predictable deficit, and we only end up in the black when, and if, there is a strong push at the end of the year. FPC: That must make it pretty difficult to plan.
donate their limited charitable dollars to other organizations that are asking when we aren’t. It’s also a reminder to those who have not finished their tithe. FPC: It wouldn’t be good if people were willing to give but weren’t informed. When do we first learn we have a deficit? Ron: Pretty early on, and we share that information every week in the Sunday news bulletin, and during announcements. This is a predictable historical trend that continues to grow until October, when we see a bump in donations resulting from Give Aloha, Foodland’s gift-matching program. Then spending generally continues to outpace income
Ron: Yes and no. We formulate the budget almost 18
until the last week or two of December, when we
months in advance with no certainty of how much will
typically see an incredible response to our appeal for
be collected. We call this a “faith budget” because we