, 2014

Churches focus on financial
resources and sustainability

by Shannon Rice

KILMARNOCK—Several area churches came together at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church to discuss financial sustainability during two informational meetings on September 20.

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The first meeting was dedicated to churches seeking repair and restoration grants from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. Under this program, churches with annual incomes of $150,000 or less are eligible for a 3:1 matching grant of up to $50,000. Eligible churches are those which received a contribution from Jessie Ball duPont between January 1, 1960, and December 31, 1964. Proof of eligibility is determined by examining Mrs. duPont’s personal or tax records or by the applicant presenting written, verifiable evidence of having received a contribution during the eligibility period. However, churches not on the list may partner with eligible churches to receive funds.

Before receiving a repair and restoration grant, each congregation was required to complete an energy audit which also was completely funded by the duPont Fund. Andy Rudin, director of the Philadelphia-based Interfaith Coalition on Energy (ICE), produced reports for congregations that included an evaluation and summary of their energy usage along with recommendations to reduce energy costs. The recommendations were based on assessments of local churches.

Many of the energy cost-reduction suggestions were as simple as reminding churches to turn appliances off, to reprogram thermostats and to invest in new heat pumps.

“In buildings that are used intermittently, the vacant conditions are more important, what you leave on is much more important,” said Rudin.

More complex recommendations included ensuring that the church is being charged the correct rate by power companies.

“There are five different rates at Dominion that are shared among the 13 churches (eligible for repair and restoration grants) and it’s up to them to decide what yours should be. The savings can be very significant,” said Rudin.

The reports generated by Rudin also include suggestions for improvement projects and resources that show prices of equipment replacement.

“The grant will cover most of these recommendations, but the churches can prioritize which projects they want to take on,” said Mark Constantine, vice president for Strategy, Policy and Learning with the duPont Fund.

This year, the duPont fund will award $250,000 worth of repair and restoration grants to approximately 13 churches. Other eligible churches will be able to apply for grants early next year, said Constantine.

“I really do encourage any eligible entity to go ahead and do it (the energy audit). It doesn’t take any time but getting those bills together. It doesn’t take any effort,” said the Rev. Torrence Harman of St. Mary’s Whitechapel Episcopal Church in Lancaster.

Session two

The second informational session focused on the Partners for Sacred Places New Dollars/New Partners training program available to congregations with older or historic buildings. The program offers workshops and conferences on capital fundraising. Northern Neck religious congregations (Christian and non-Christian) will be the first in the country to participate in the program.

Although New Dollars/New Partners does not provide funding to congregations, it does help them assess and articulate their value to the community in the hopes of attracting donors.

Eight to 10 congregations participate in each workshop. A group of four clergy and lay members represents each congregation. During the workshops, each congregation will develop a cause statement that articulates why people should care about them in addition to assessing the congregation assets, learning fundraising basics and developing external sources of funding.

Bob Jaeger, president of Partners for Sacred Places insists that congregations will attract more donors if they are visible in the community at large.

“Churches are de facto community centers,” said Jaeger. “More non-members will pass through your church doors than members.”

If churches partner with other community groups and open their doors to non-members, more people will care about them, he said. Most donations to congregations come from individual donors, not foundations, added Jaeger.

“We help you find a match between what you do well and what funders care about,” said Jaeger.

Still, if a congregation hopes to attract the attention of foundations and larger groups, they will need to prove their contributions to the community. Central to the success of the program is each congregation’s “Halo Effect” which Partners for Sacred Places project manager Daniel Duffy describes as the economic impact of a congregation.

Duffy said the average nation-wide congregation benefits its community by over $4 billion a year.

“We’re not just talking about a congregation’s spending. We’re talking about social services, education and community development,” said Duffy.

He also explained churches have a magnet effect in the community as visitors patronize local restaurants and stores when they come to a church for worship, performances, or weddings.

Participation in the New Dollars/New Partners program will cover how to generate a monetary value for this Halo Effect said Duffy.

The cost to participate in the New Dollars/New Partners program is $50 per congregation. Interested congregations should contact the Rev. John Farmer at 438-6971.

“It’s really a win-win situation. The church is going to reach out to the people in the community which will create this halo and if the church isn’t in mission to the people around it, then why is a church a church,” said Rev. Debbie Marion of Kilmarnock Methodist Church.

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