Below you’ll find the transcript for episode 20, How to Work Within Your Women’s Ministry Budget, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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EP: 20 How to Work Within Your Women’s Ministry Budget
Whether you have a healthy women’s ministry budget or not, this post is for you!
We’ll be talking about how to budget for women’s ministry events and what to consider when deciding whether or not to charge for an event or activity.
Plus, I’ll be sharing tips and ideas that you can apply no matter the size or lack of your budget.
The truth is most women’s ministry budgets are limited, even though we may serve more people and host more events than other ministries in our church. Thankfully, our value comes from Christ and not the percentage of the church budget we received.
How do we supplement a small or non-existent budget?
I have four ideas that I believe can help.
Some churches will allow women’s ministries to fundraise in addition to, or instead of, creating a line item in the church budget, so make sure you ask.
If your fundraiser covers the cost of your women’s ministry events for the year, you need to be women of your word and not charge for a single women’s ministry event. If your fundraiser is offsetting the cost for a larger event, make sure that you communicate that with your women so they understand why they’re getting that price break.
2. Love offering baskets
Some churches allow ministry groups to set out or pass a basket for donations. But please don’t pass it! Some of your women may be guilted into donating when they truly do not have the funds to do so. Just set it out on the table and make women aware that it’s there.
3. Donations from businesses
Donations can be a blessing and even a necessity when it comes to holding an event. A business may be willing to donate food. They may be willing to donate door prizes or other supplies. Some businesses may even be willing to donate a lump sum of money.
Donations of all kinds should be carefully tracked by your team. And they should also not be expected from year to year. Many businesses will require that they get a 501C3 form from your church, so make sure you’ve got a copy of that form in your hand when you go asking. Also, handwritten thank-you notes should be delivered and thank given publicly at the event (unless the donation was given anonymously).
If you go the route of collecting donations from businesses, please take great care to make sure your need is known to all church members so that no one feels that they weren’t given an equal opportunity to donate goods or services. The risk of hurt feelings is high.
4. Charge for events and activities
Now, I know some of you are bristling at this idea but hang in there with me. The church is one of the only places people have come to expect events and activities to be free. Think about it. We pay for food at restaurants. We buy concert tickets. We even pay for parking.
Someone asked in the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Facebook Group about charging for women’s ministry events not long ago. Many leaders shared that they charged for bigger events, but not smaller events. Most charge for their workbooks for Bible studies, and others offered significant discounts to help cover its cost.
Deciding whether or not to charge for women’s ministry of interactivity isn’t always a straightforward yes or no answer.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration. Let’s walk through some things you’ll want to keep in mind as you make this decision.
Six things to consider when deciding if you should charge for a women’s ministry event or activity
1. Church culture
What is the expectation from the pastoral staff, as well as the congregation? Are love offering baskets the norm at events? Are you expected to use your budget for smaller events and only charge for bigger events? Does the church supply Bible study books, or do the attendees always pay?
If your finance committee is unaware of the realistic cost of your ministry, you may need to meet with them, prove your case, and respectfully request a budget increase.
2. Budget breakers
If you choose not to charge for an event, you’ll be tied to your ministry budget, and that might prevent you from bringing in a paid speaker. (By the way, anyone who speaks should be paid.) You may have to ask women to bring food rather than catering an event. Those aren’t deal-breakers, but just things to keep in mind.
3. Income levels in your community
I live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, and it’s typical to see church members purchase or bring a cup of specialty coffee into the church service or Sunday school. Many families I know also grab lunch at a restaurant after church. So, it’s reasonable to expect that charging $5 or more for an event shouldn’t be a burden for most of them. But I realize that many people live paycheck to paycheck, and the cost of a retreat or conference would be a burden.
I am thrilled to know that many of you provide scholarships for women in need and often have women cover the cost for another woman.
4. The precedent
When you’ve offered an event for free or at a price that is way under the actual cost, it can be really difficult to start charging or raise the price.
For years, a church that we attended was able to keep their retreats at a crazy (that’s my opinion) minimal cost. They had been blessed by members with rental homes that had donated lodging, and then they had found a family-run hotel that was willing to slash their rates for our group. As the group grew and needed a dedicated meeting space, they were shocked when they researched conference and retreat centers.
Charging in advance for an event lets you know exactly how much food to purchase, how many programs to print, how many tables to set up, and so on.
We are called to be good stewards, and it’s difficult to do when we have no idea of how many women plants. Unfortunately, registration attempts for free events don’t usually mirror the actual attendance because of…
6. Personal investment
When women invest in your event, even at the cost of $5, they are more likely to attend and more likely to participate.
It’s really easy to skip an event that’s free as it costs the potential attendee absolutely nothing. Women must choose to attend your event – whether it’s opting to attend something else or just opting to stay home and sleep or finish the laundry.
Here’s my personal opinion on this, I prefer to offer a mix of free and paid women’s ministry events.
I don’t mind asking women to bring food to a game night or to a fellowship. And I prefer to request donations for a service project, such as making pillowcase dresses or care packages for the homeless, rather than to use our budget money.
My hope is always that the women’s ministry budget will be used to benefit the greatest number of women possible.
So if we’re hosting a workshop fellowship, I’d rather charge for supplies than spend a large chunk of our budget.
Before we wrap up our budget discussion, we must talk about how to create a budget.
One of the most useful forms I’ve come across was the special event project budgeting sheet from our church in Apex, North Carolina. Once a year, as we submitted our budget requests, we had to complete the special event/project budgeting sheet. This sheet was to be filled out for every event activity or project that we were going to put on our calendar during the fiscal year. It’s a detailed sheet that forces our team to get specific about our budget request. If we wanted budget and money, we had to show on paper how it would be used.
And in cases where we were going to host a zero budget event, that’s one where you charge a fee to balance out the cost, and we had to put that on paper too. Thinking through the nitty-gritty details helped us to ensure that we didn’t overlook a large expense or a bunch of small ones.
Knowing how helpful it was for our team, I’ve tweaked and recreated this form for you to use.
You’ll find a free PDF file of the Event Budget Form here.
Even if you don’t have an official church budget, I still encourage you to use this form. The day may come when you’re asked to show that the women’s ministry should have a line in the church budget, and you’ll be able to show on paper how your team has faithfully stewarded money in the past.
Today’s Toolbox Tasks
- Take the time to review your women’s ministry budget with your team and make any necessary changes.
- Download the Event Budget Form and use it when you plan for your next event.
1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”
I pray that we’ll all be good stewards of the money we’ve been given to use for ministry.
You may also want to read:
Event Budget Form (Free Printable)
Mission Project: Pillowcase Dresses
Homeless Care Packages
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What should you charge for your women’s ministry event?
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