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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

Ko’olau property.

church always make a plea for more at the end of

Our 2016 deficit is the difference between what we

the year?

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

year-end giving.


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