“Ladies and gentlemen,” the priest announces from the lectern, “it’s your favorite Sunday of the year... budget Sunday!” The parishioners sigh and settle in for what the priest knows is the mass many would have skipped if they had known budget talk was on the schedule.
“Please take a look at the insert in your bulletin,” he continues. “You’ll see that we didn’t meet our budget this year … again.” His audience knows where this is going: The church is struggling to accomplish its mission, but the congregation is not pulling its weight in terms of monetary contributions. The end of the fiscal year is certainly no holiday for churches, priests or congregations.
Do not ask, and you shall not receive
Clergy in the United States struggle to talk about money and fundraising. They’re even more tongue-tied about endowments and planned giving. The United States may consider itself the most religious Western nation, yet its churches rank near the bottom of U.S. charities in soliciting and closing major and planned gifts. Instead, contributions take the form of small cash donations put in the collection plate.