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The Congregational Consulting Group, organized in 2014 by former consultants of the Alban Institute, is a network of independent consultants. We publish PERSPECTIVES for Congregational Leaders—thoughts on topics of interest to leaders of congregations and other purpose-driven organizations. —  Dan Hotchkiss, editor

How to Be Transparent About Money

Dollar bills in a fishbowl

“I wish we were more transparent about our finances.” For almost every problem congregations face, transparency is one proposed solution. Treasurers and business managers—who work hard to produce honest, accurate reports—often are surprised by the implication that they’re hiding something. Transparency is good, but flooding people with more data rarely solves the problem. True transparency requires a plan to give financial information to each of four distinct audiences.

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Managing Membership and Financial Data in the 21st Century

Man looks at graphs on computer screen
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Wherever I go in my consulting work I ask, “How do you keep track of membership and financial data?” More times than not the answer is, “We use (whatever software vendor) but it doesn’t really work all that well for us.” Since managing financial and membership data effectively is crucial, how can we avoid this all-too-common problem in the lives of congregations?

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What, Besides Money, Do Churches Owe the IRS?

by Sarai Rice Today, I’m talking to the 95% of you who think IRS rules are not as interesting as biblical texts or pastoral visits. You may be right 🙂 ! However, not caring about IRS rules could cost your congregation time and money. Let’s start where I started this week—with a religious body that …

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Preserving Sacred Places

Recently I’m working on a pair of projects on opposite ends of the congregational survival spectrum. One project is a survey of the vulnerability of Philadelphia’s “sacred places.” The other is a freelance writing gig for Association Reserves, a company that does “capital plans” for various nonprofits, including congregations. The Philadelphia project is about the ever-looming threat of congregational closure, while capital plans are all about sustainability and thriving. Sometimes the contrast makes me dizzy!

A Quick, Non-Expert Tutorial on Audits

by Sarai Rice
I’ve just started serving on the Finance Committee for a local faith-based group, and I’ve realized that years of external audits have taught me some things that other ministers don’t necessarily know. So, below are the answers to a few recent questions about audits.

Calculating the Cost of Ministry

by Sarai Rice
If the “cost” of something is “the price paid to acquire, produce, accomplish, or maintain it,” and calculating it is going to require manipulating numbers, then I’m pretty sure your first instinct when reading this article’s title was to run for cover! We’re just emerging from the glow of Christmas and the sparkle of the New Year. Who wants to talk about math or money? (read more)