Concrete guidance for church leaders charged with borrowing money. Borrowing from banks can be challenging and expensive, especially in times like these when banks are restrictive in their lending policies. But UCC Congregations have better options… two extraordinary UCC Financial Ministries can help.
The Local Church Ministries Church Building & Loan Fund makes loans to new UCC congregations who wish to build or buy their first house of worship. Loans of up to $2,000,000 are made at below market interest rates. CBLF also partners with other lenders to finance larger projects.
In addition, the Church Building & Loan Fund will work with local UCC congregations and their conferences toward the goal of financial self sufficiency that will qualify churches for their first loan through its Partners in Building program.
For all UCC congregations, CB&LF can answer questions about building and loan related issues and provide helpful resources. Do you know the “Do’s and Don’ts for Church Cell Tower Leases”?... that’s just an example.
Contact the Church Building & Loan Fund at: (216) 736-3834
Borrowing and investing join hands in the UCC Cornerstone Fund. It was created to offer loans to UCC churches and other UCC-related organizations for virtually any property-related project (repair, remodel, acquire land, build). The Borrowing FAQ offers details including details of the Interest Rate Rebate Program.
Working much like a bank, the Cornerstone Fund offers interest-bearing investments to United Church of Christ churches and members – and that principal is used in turn to fund loans to other churches and organizations throughout the denomination. By participating in the Cornerstone Fund, investors enjoy a competitive rate of return, while ensuring funds are always available to churches seeking to make capital improvements. This link also offers information about the EcoLoan and Revolving Line of Credit.
Contact the Cornerstone Fund at (888) 822-3863.
FAQ: Where do we send our OCWM (Our Church’s Wider Mission) check? (or check for Strengthen the Church, or Disaster Relief, or…) Any check for a UCC or UCC-related ministry/program is sent to your Conference office using its remittance form. This chart offers examples. Here’s a sample of one Conference’s OCWM remittance form, but contact YOUR Conference for your form.
A Church Finance Handbook from our UCC Massachusetts Conference provides comprehensive guidance for church treasurers and finance committees (or trustees).
Handbook for Treasurers from our partner church, the Christian church (Disciples of Christ), covers many useful topics beyond those specific to their denomination.
Here is a model Best Practices for Handling Church Offerings, ready to adapt to your church circumstances, from our UCC Connecticut Conference.
Tools for Effective Local Church Management (pdf) from our UCC Connecticut Conference, is a comprehensive resource for church management.
The Audit Committee Handbook (pdf) is a wonderful guide for an internal audit committee, prepared for our UCC Massachusetts Conference by Frank A. Marino, MBA, CPA.
Finally (for now), The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has launched a Finance for Congregations webpage which includes guides for Audit, Treasurers, Budget, Internal Control, Reimbursement Policies, Contingency Planning, Data Security, Identity Theft and other useful information.
Financial leadership in the church exists to serve the church’s mission. Effective financial management must be mission-oriented, responsive, transparent, and must maintain complete integrity. Only then will givers have the confidence to entrust their gifts and dreams to your church!
What is the Minister’s role? Ministers don’t need to be financial gurus, but they play a critical role. Check out The Minister’s Role in Church Finances.
Financial complexity increases with church size. When does your church need a paid professional Financial Administrator? …At approximately 1,200-1,400 in average worship attendance, per Herb Miller, author of “The Parish Paper.” Learn more from Herb about “How Much Staff Is Enough?”
Here are descriptions of skills, responsibilities, common practices, and issues for your church’s key financial leaders: Trustees (or Council or Finance Committee), Treasurer, and Financial Secretary.
After reading about the Financial Secretary’s role, you’ll want this Best Practices for Handling Church Offerings, a model ready to adapt to your church circumstances from our UCC Connecticut Conference.
Separation of duties is a “system of approvals, and the breakdown of routine processes, so that no one individual has total authority over, or access to, a transaction.” (Carl J. Kotheimer, The Steward, a publication of the UCC Insurance Board, Winter 2009). Details are found in the Internal Controls section of our Massachusetts Conference’s Church Finance Handbook. Such practices protect financial assets and engender trust.
A Fidelity Bond is insurance coverage that compensates your church in case of dishonest acts by staff, volunteers or officers (such as theft, forgery, embezzlement, computer fraud) which results in the loss of money or property. If your church participates in the UCC Insurance Board program, blanket bond (crime) is part of your General Liability package policy, and a new coverage, privacy breach protection, has been added at no additional cost. Churches not participating in the UCC Insurance Board program should check with your general liability insurance carrier for coverage. Here is more detail about Bonding.
Funding Ministry & Mission
Generous giving in the church does not happen automatically when a person joins a congregation. Part of the mission of the church is to form its members to be givers in life, as well as in the congregation.
If the congregation has developed a creative and challenging program for mission, and the members have participated in this development, then the next step is a carefully crafted plan for asking for money.
No matter what kind of commitment (annual pledge, capital campaign, special gift…) your givers wish to make, your church can make it easier for them to fulfill it. Here are resources to help your church offer electronic giving. (Note: If your church participates in the UCC Insurance Board program, a new privacy breach protection coverage has been added at no additional cost.)
Annual Stewardship Commitment Programs
An Annual Stewardship Campaign serves as a vital part of a congregation’s faith and stewardship formation. Asking for Support offers a survey of annual stewardship commitment programs and where to find them.
Four methods included in Inspiring Generosity, the UCCs foundational stewardship resource, are:
- Personal Visits
- Consecrating Stewards
- Invited to give, Thanks!
Most stewardship methods work well with the annual UCC Stewardship Theme Materials, a full range of themed resources including:
- Worship bulletin
- Three bulletin inserts (one with giving chart)
- Commitment (single, double, or faith promise) and Time and Talent cards
- Letterhead, envelope, notecard
Four methods offered here have been used less widely but may present helpful ideas and direction:
- Sunday Worship
- Small Groups
- Personal Delivery
- Congregational Dinner
The UCC actively partners in the Ecumenical Stewardship Center which offers a new themed annual campaign each year in its Giving Magazine. Companion resources (Bulletin covers, inserts, posters, etc.) are available for the current theme. A number of past years' programs and resources are also available in print or on a CD.
The church is called to be stewards regardless of the size of the congregation. This Stewardship in the Small membership Congregation workbook, available from the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, is a study guide and includes the "Faithful, Hopeful, Loving" stewardship and mission emphasis.
Don’t forget to invite members to commit TIME AND TALENT in service of your congregation’s life and mission. Order the UCC Stewardship Theme Material Time and Talent Pledge Card or create your own survey if you are willing and able to follow through by calling on those willing to serve.
If your congregation is contemplating a CAPITAL CAMPAIGN, UCC Capital Fundraising Executives are eager to assist you with our Faith Based, Spirit Filled, Lay Led process. This has been used by hundreds of United Church of Christ congregations over the past sixty years.
Our Capital Campaign Services include financial feasibility studies and guided campaign services. We assist you with campaign organization and oversight, leadership recruitment and proven method. We will also lend all the encouragement, support and affirmation you need. When you are ready, we are available to meet with you for a no obligation informational session to discuss your needs.
Please invite us to join you in your journey to fulfilling your Mission and Vision!
Phone: 216-736-3834 | 1-866-822-8224 Ext 3834 (Toll Free)
The UCC Capital Fund Raising Manual is available for purchase online ($35.00 +s/h) for those who wish to study the process or raise funds without a consultant. Or call UCC Resources at 1-800-537-3394.
Would you like this to happen with your Capital Campaign?
The Financial Development Ministry team works with individuals, churches and conferences to facilitate a variety of gifts which are planned and/or funded now, but whose benefit is not received by the Church until after the death of the donor(s). These gifts can benefit a church, Conference, national ministry or any UCC-related institution (seminary, health and welfare institution, etc.).
Many types of gifts are possible, some providing income to the donor and/or another person during their lifetime, and all supporting mission and ministry dear to the donor.
Does/should your church have an Endowment? Yes/No… either is a good reason to have a Planned Giving Ministry in your church. The updated Local Church Planned Giving Manual includes sections devoted to educational programs, management of planned gifts, ways of making gifts, and more. Order online or call UCC Resources at 1-800-537-3394 ($10 + s/h) or download free.
Many resources (brochures, bulletin inserts, newsletter blurbs, sampler packets) can be ordered to help with a wills emphasis or encouraging various types of planned gifts. The Endowment Resources Packet contains sample guidelines and materials for establishing and promoting congregational endowment funds. Use this handy resource list and order form. Call with any questions: 1-800-846-6822
Both the UCC Capital Fund Raising Manual and the UCC Local ChurchPlanned Giving Manual offer help with identifying and cultivating potential major gift donors. "Cultivation" is nurture, tending, encouraging, listening, and keeping potential donors informed of the mission and ministry of particular interest to them. This will primarily take the form of personal contact. Your minister and/or lay visitation volunteers who listen closely and thoughtfully to others can help them realize their charitable dreams.
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University's Lake Institute on Faith and Giving's Fund Raising School has led customized "Financial Transformation" seminars for UCC leaders. Their annotated bibliography contains a section on Major Gifts.
Grants from Foundations and other granting sources can play an important role in funding a particular ministry your church has envisioned. The UCC national ministries do not offer resources at this time on seeking grants and writing grant proposals.
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University’s Lake Institute on Faith and Giving's Fund Raising School has led customized "Financial Transformation" seminars for UCC leaders. Their annotated bibliography contains a section on grant proposals.
Many congregations include fundraisers in their strategy to fund the church’s ministry and mission. Raising funds may be only one benefit. Fundraisers may:
- Build community within your church, involving new people and many generations
- Reach out to the community surrounding your church
- Increase the visibility of your church
- Help the environment, showcase local talent…
- Raise funds… and more…
BUT, not every fundraising idea reflects the values of your church. Beyond church dinners, rummage sales, raffles…
Choosing trustworthy professional guidance to steward resources, from small savings accounts to large endowment assets, can be a heavy responsibility, especially when socially responsible investing is a top priority. UCC Congregations can turn to two extraordinary UCC Financial Ministries that can help.
Borrowing and investing join hands in the UCC Cornerstone Fund. Working much like a bank, the UCC Cornerstone Fund offers interest-bearing investments (Flexible Demand and Term Notes) to United Church of Christ churches and individual members – and that principal is used in turn to fund loans to other churches and organizations throughout the denomination. By participating in the Cornerstone Fund, investors enjoy a competitive rate of return, while ensuring funds are always available to churches seeking to make capital improvements. Perfect for short- and longer-term investments.
Contact the Cornerstone Fund at (888) 822-3863.
Established in 1909, United Church Funds (UCF) offers a family of professionally managed, well-diversified and socially responsible investment funds. At present, UCF manages over half a billion dollars in assets — from small church reserve accounts to some of the denomination's historic endowments. Investors in UCF's funds benefit from a range of advantages, including —
• Nine funds offering broad diversification to minimize risk
• Lower fees for active management by top managers using a range of styles
• A socially responsible portfolio and active shareholder engagement
• Continuous evaluation of manager performance to strengthen returns
• A not-for-profit structure that reduces costs
For more information, take a careful look at our funds and contact us via email or on our toll-free number (877) 806-4989.
Socially Responsible Investing:
As Christians, we seek to fulfill our stewardship responsibilities by ensuring that the investment of resources we manage reflects our faith values and God's desires for our world. Given the powerful role money plays in our society and world, we want to be thoughtful in choosing investments that work for good.
The Cornerstone Fund, by investing in the future of UCC churches, offers an investment that "does good – and does well!"
United Church Funds' Socially Responsible Investing commitment offers investors the unique opportunity to align their values with their desire to maximize endowment and other assets, believing solid returns can coexist with socially responsible investing.
UCF uses a range of strategies, such as proxy voting, shareholder resolutions and social screens to bring about this desirable balance. Please visit our SRI site for a more detailed account of our program.
For more information about UCF's social responsibility ministry, download the educational articles, Corporate Social Responsibility, UCF Statement of Investment Policy and the UCF Social Issues Proxy Voting Guidelines. For a look into the sustainability of United Church Funds as reported by the SR office, download the first edition of the Sustainability Report.
Clergy and laity employed by the UCC and enrolled in The Pension Boards-UCC program can rest assured that their retirement funds are invested in concert with their faith and the Pension Boards fiduciary responsibility. Beyond the employer contributions, many UCC employees invest their own funds in Tax Sheltered Annuities, a smart and simple way to invest responsibility. Learn more about The Pension Boards Corporate Social Responsibility ministry (including a CSR slide show for churches).
The United Church of Christ Covenanted Ministries, United Church Funds, and the Pension Boards all partner in the Corporate Social Responsibility work of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, representing more than $100 billion in invested assets.
RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP THROUGH SHAREHOLDER ENGAGMENT!
Vol 1: Reconsidering the Endowment Spending Policy
The first in United Church Funds' Investor Education Series, this article highlights the concept of a spending policy based on Total Return - the contemporary and successor spending model to the outdated "save the principal, spend the income." A chart demonstrates the viability of a spending policy based on Total Return.
Vol 2: Making a Plan: Building a Sound Investment Policy
This article highlights five essential steps in the development of a well-considered investment policy - an essential document endowments of any size.
Vol 3: Corporate Social Responsibility
This article features the social responsibility program of United Church Funds, which goes far beyond simple investment screens.
Vol 5: Alternatives
Alternatives: the what, the when, the why. Should your church consider adding alternatives to your endowment's investment portfolio? Or do alternatives fall outside your policy guidelines? This article offers an overview of alternative investments including hedge funds, real estate and private equity.
The Mission Spending Plan
“Every dollar in a church budget is a dollar that someone has given freely…driven by a wish for the church to exist. The church budget… is a celebration of organized generosity.”
– Inspiring Generosity, p. 34
How your church builds and presents your “church budget” – and even what you call it – can motivate increased generosity. Here are key points for building and presenting your church’s Mission Spending Plan from Inspiring Generosity, the United Church of Christ’s basic stewardship resource. Order Inspiring Generosity online in hardcopy format ($15 + s/h) or as a download ($7.50)
or call UCC Resources at 1-800-537-3394.
Line-item or Narrative budget format? What are they anyway? Use a Line-item format to develop your budget, monitor activity during the year, and prepare the Narrative format. Add pictures to bring mission to life and inspire generosity! Here are some great sample Narrative/Picture formats from UCC churches and a Picture Budget handout to give an overview to leaders. The UCC Cornerstone Fund offers a seminar on Budgets that Inspire Giving.
Need help budgeting in tough economic times? Here is guidance for prioritizing.
To inspire donors, through purposeful engagement about the importance of philanthropy and stewardship within the UCC and its churches, to be active participants in transforming the world around us!
To create a culture of philanthropy that invites people to grow in generosity, in faith and in relationship with God and the United Church of Christ.
• Purposeful teaching on the importance of the stewarding of all resources.
• Fostering trust with internal and external stakeholders.
• Modeling what it means to reimagine the gifts of God – lived out through joyful engagement, efficient management of resources, and excellent stewardship of relationships and resources – equipping others to serve, to ask, and to give.
Together, lets re-imagine the gifts of God.
Please call us with any questions concerning gifts you have made, gifts you would like to make, the impact of your gift in the life of the church, and other gift reporting. We encourage you to call on us as a resource for congregational giving, stewardship planning and education.
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Cleveland, OH 44115