Here are some strategies to deal with Covid-19 and the potential financial impact for churches. This list was created with the help of my colleagues in the National Association of United Methodist Foundations.
Here is the most up-to-date information from the CDC specifically for churches. This contains best practice for disinfecting, preparedness checklists, and ways to stay safe during gatherings.
A church’s response must include not only its own membership and financial stability (both important!), but also its awareness of neighbors who are most affected (income, healthcare costs, isolation, etc.).
We love the idea of setting up an assistance fund specifically for your church’s response.
Evaluate how you can continue offering services during extended quarantine, such as food delivery instead of food pantries or soup kitchens; phone calls for pastoral care in lieu of home visits; streaming video of sermons; prayer conference calls; emails of encouragement/advice.
Everyone still needs human contact, and the next best thing is a good old-fashioned phone call. Implementing a calling-tree to stay connected could be a good solution. Click here for a great resource for how to set up a calling-tree.
Remind your donors of your e-giving options and continued/increased need.
No E-Giving? No Problem! Get started accepting credit cards, debit cards, text giving, and more with Vanco Payments. They created a special deal for Mountain Sky churches. Click here.
Here some highlights from 10 ideas for church financial leaders from Discipleship ministries:
- Stop passing the plate – ask people to leave donations in plates near the door
- Ask people to use E-Giving or their own bank’s Bill-Pay services
- Money has germs, and counters should take extra precautions
- Schedule email giving reminders to ask people not to forget about their church
- Be sensitive about the income impact on members
- Send extra messages of hope
Always be intentional about asking for donations at virtual events.
Keep your social media active with your good news and engaging content – people stuck home will be on social media more!
If you have never done virtual church or meetings (podcasts or live-streams), you don’t need a lot of technology to do this.
www.FreeConferenceCall.com gives you a phone number and a short code. This service can handle up to 1,000 participants. And it’s free, and all you need is a phone. It is perfect for technology challenged members who still know how to use a push button phone.
https://zoom.us/ is what the conference uses for virtual meetings, and it’s free for up to 100 participants. Not all of your members will have access to a computer, or they may be technology challenged. There is a phone only option that you can share to be inclusive. You can also record a video of your event and then make that available for people to watch later.
You can live-stream events through Facebook, YouTube, or other ways.
Or simply record a message on your smartphone and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. Then send everyone the link in an email.
My prayers continue for all of you out there continuing to spread God’s love in your communities.
I wish you peace, strength, and good health.
Kristi Kinnison, Executive Director, Mountain Sky United Methodist Foundation
Information in this post came various sources including Ken Sloane at Discipleship Ministries, and members of the National Association of United Methodist Foundations.