• Fearless Finances - Parish Budgets ✓
    Webinars
    Fearless Finances - A Practical Approach to Parish Budgets (ECF/Lilly Financial Literacy Series) Fall is a critical time for parish budgeting and congregational leaders often feel overwhelmed. Take a deep breath – you are just one step away from l…
  • Digital Giving: Models and Tools ✓
    Webinars
    Research on nonprofit fundraising suggests that as donor age decreases, the prevalence of the following donor questions increases: (1) Can I give online? and (2) How is my money making a difference? This webinar will survey digital tools to support v…
  • Pledging: Should Clergy Know? ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Opinions vary as to whether or not ordained leaders of faith communities should be familiar with what parishioners are pledging. Erin Weber-Johnson reached out to her church campaign colleagues and asked them to share their experiences, pro and con.
  • Audits: Practicing Internal Controls ✓
    Vestry Papers
    It's valuable for congregational leaders to have – and practice – good internal controls. Martha Goodwill offers four specific actions every congregation should adopt.
  • Accounting Software: Finding the Right Fit ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Phyllis Jones offers descriptions of the three most popular packages in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey and shares what congregations should consider when making this decision.
  • Lessons from a Rookie Treasurer ✓
    Vestry Papers
    As a new treasurer, Tyler Schleicher quickly discovered that he needed to get up to speed quickly and, at the same time, find ways to make the role more manageable .
  • Year Round Stewardship: Talking About Money ✓
    Webinars
    We hear it all the time: You need to be doing year round stewardship! But how do we engage the topic of money in a way that is fun, engaging and deeply spiritual? How do we offer stewardship formation in a way that encourages giving as a spiritual pr…
  • Basics of Parish Finance ✓
    Webinars
    How congregations spend their money is a clear indication of their understanding of mission and ministry. For any parish leader, lay or clergy, a quick look at the financial situation can help one discern a key piece of the congregation's identity an…
  • Addressing Lackluster Stewardship Campaigns ✓
    Webinars
    This web conference is designed to address how and why the stewardship efforts of so many congregations produce lackluster results. It will specifically examine the role of messaging and how tone and content can impact annual campaigns. Participants …
  • Authentic Tough Talk ✓
    Vestry Papers
    We pushed and pried in private with some vestry members. What were their real attitudes toward “the numbers?”
  • Audits: A necessity, not an option ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Especially in these difficult economic times, when every penny counts, an effective church audit is a necessity and no longer an option.
  • Create a sound parish budget ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Effective budgeting is not the result of the stressful days and nights of budget preparation, or the reams of financial spreadsheets produced, or even the many hard choices required to finalize a budget.
  • Fulfilling your Wishes: End of Life Planning
    Webinars
    Few things are more important than making certain that your assets are distributed as you wish at your death, or ensuring the kind of funeral/memorial service you would desire. It is also crucial that loved ones know how you want to be cared for medi…
  • Investment Strategies for Endowments for 2017
    Webinars
    2016 proved to be a complex year for investing. How should you position your endowment/investment fund portfolio for 2017 with the advent of a new administration in Washington? Please join ECF and our State Street Global Advisors investment managers …
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Endowment Resources
    Vital Posts
    In the November Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources for creating and growing endowments, practicing good oversight, and establishing year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s easy and free to receive more great resources …
  • Donor-advised Funds What Leaders Should Know
    Webinars
    Why have Donor-advised Funds (DAF) become the fastest growing giving tool in the country? When is it appropriate to suggest one to a donor to your church or Episcopal organization? Learn the advantages, and the cautions, for this type of gift. Please…
  • Fundraising and Fellowship
    Vital Posts
    Many of us have just completed the stewardship campaigns in our congregations and, as we are in my congregation, reviewing how close we came to having 100% of the pledge cards completed. More than likely there is a shortfall from pledges and we are…
  • Bartering for Bands
    Vital Posts
    Music has always been a struggle in our Spanish service at St. Mary’s. As we have slowly built membership in our largely low-income neighborhood, we are not anywhere close to generating the kind of offerings that would fully support the clergy ti…
  • The Basics of Annual Giving: Strategies that Work
    Webinars
    Looking for a magic bullet for your annual giving this year? A way to increase giving at your parish in 3 easy steps? This isn`t your webinar. Annual giving is a vital ministry at your parish and, like any ministry, successful strategies are often de…
  • Building Trust and Encouraging More Planned Gifts
    Webinars
    One of the biggest obstacles to making a planned gift to a parish or Episcopal institution is the lack of trust in its leadership or its ability to handle gifts properly. Making a planned gift raises your parish or institution to the ‘level of fami…
  • Organizational Milestones for the Vestry
    Your Turn
    Dust off the Parochial Report to create an impactful organizational timeline.
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources to Jumpstart Fundraising
    Vital Posts
    In the August Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources to help jumpstart your fall annual giving efforts, with the 5th a resource to help in developing year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s easy and free to connect with m…
  • Are You Overspending Your Endowment?
    Webinars
    Are you overspending your endowment? How do you know? Does an alarm ring? Do the endowment police show up in force? State law comes into play, particularly for true endowments. But in the bigger picture, prudent investing and prudent spending go a lo…
  • Spending Rules and Investment Allocations
    Webinars
    Do you know the laws that govern your endowment? Do you know if you are prudently managing your endowment assets? The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA), a state law, addresses how to invest and spend from your “true” …
  • I don’t have enough money to make a planned gift!
    Webinars
    How much money is “enough” for a planned gift? Is your congregation reluctant to start a planned giving program because your parishioners ‘just don’t have enough money’? Please join Jim Murphy to discuss the real opportunities that exist in…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Treasurer Basics for March
    Vital Posts
    In the March Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 treasurer basics every parish leader involved with finances might use, with the 5th a resource to help develop year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s easy and free to connect wit…
  • Tenants and Friends
    Vital Posts
    Are your tenants your friends? Is that even possible? What is the relationship with the people who use your church’s space? So many of our churches these days have tenants. It’s practical, mostly. We often have more space and less money t…
  • Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom
    Vestry Papers
    Leadership and finances are the areas most cited by Episcopal churches as sources of conflict. Jerry Keucher shares why leaders need to address the underlying problem(s) fueling that conflict.
  • Budgeting: What's Essential? Who Decides?
    Vital Posts
    It’s amazing how quickly the Cadillac SUV went to the wayside for a used Ford. The middle school students were given a paper with a job, average monthly salary, and number of children (including zero). They had to make their way around tables …
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This webinar will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal …
  • Investment Strategies for Endowments for 2016
    Webinars
    2015 proved to be a volatile year for investments. How should you position your endowment/investment fund portfolio for 2016? Please join ECF and our State Street Global Advisors investment managers as we review the investment returns of 2015 and ex…
  • Planned Giving in Your Episcopal School
    Webinars
    Planned gifts made to your school could be transformational in securing funds for scholarships, building endowments and new facilities, and empowering your future. However, many Episcopal schools find it difficult to get started due to a lack of unde…
  • Making a Planned Gift to Your Parish
    Webinars
    Which planned gift is best for you and your family? Join us to learn more about planned giving options and how they can benefit both you and your parish or favorite Episcopal charity. Planned or legacy giving is an important aspect of your personal s…
  • Why Policy Matters
    Vestry Papers
    Lisa Meeder Turnbull invites congregational leaders to consider the stewardship of structure and governance as a framework supporting the mission and vision of your congregation.
  • Strong Administrator = Strong Church
    Vestry Papers
    Do you ever think of your parish administrator as a primary part of your community’s root system?
  • Make Your Money talk. Or at Least, Your Budget.
    Vital Posts
    Vestries are working on their budgets for the next year. It can be a daunting task, whether or not resources are limited. Money—and talk of it—is uncomfortable for a lot of people. But giving voice to the line items of a church budget is a v…
  • November 2015 Editor's Letter: Practical Matters
    Vital Posts
    Happy Birthday ECF Vital Practices! We’re celebrating five years of ECF Vital Practices. To date, we’ve published 60 Vestry Papers issues online (that’s 240 articles), plus thousands of Vital Posts blogs.  The best part? We couldn’t do …
  • Managing Resources, Part 1 Finances
    Vestry Papers
    “Managing Resources, Part 1” by Nancy Davidge and Susan Elliott, offers an overview of the Vestry Resource Guide’s chapter on finance and administration. Part 1 takes a broad look at the vestry’s role in financial management including budgeti…
  • Basics of Endowment
    Webinars
    Join us to review basic principles and best practices for endowment management. You will examine important, and easy to use, documents to use for structuring your endowment and for clarifying its purpose. Participants will also learn about endowment …
  • Living Within Our Giving
    Vital Posts
    In my head I really believe this, and I’ve long thought it’s absolutely fundamental to effective ministry. I trace the origin of the concept back to my time in the Diocese of Chicago’s intentional curacy program, and my introduction to the th…
  • The Cost And Benefits Of Discipleship
    Vital Posts
    Autumn’s annual return means that most congregations are starting to put together financial plans for next year. The annual fundraising campaign or pledge drive is about to begin. Alongside this work, and at the same time, vestries and finance co…
  • Pledge Drive & Plate Offering Analysis Worksheet
    Your Turn
    If you were to analyze giving and pledging trends in your congregation, what trends and patterns would you realize? This worksheet may help you begin this process.
  • The Numbers Also Get You There
    Vital Posts
    Not surprisingly, a tangential remark led to a rich conversation at one of the many meetings we’ve been having among the Episcopal churches in southern Maryland. “The fact is that the numbers get you to understand the need for institutional col…
  • Three Blogs on Stewardship: #3 Buy the Numbers
    Vital Posts
    Okay, so my last post about paid and unpaid, professional and amateur Christians sparked some discussion. I need to be clear about something from the beginning. I am not a cynic. I know that it is tough to discern tone from prose, but am not jaded,…
  • 3 Blogs on Stewardship #2 Just What Exactly Are We Funding?
    Vital Posts
    As I mentioned in my last post, Southside Abbey's funding is up. More accurately, my funding is up with the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee in August. It has really been on my mind of late that I am confusing these two issues. Nothing about the…
  • A Second Collection
    Vital Posts
    File this under “Borrowed from Another Church” or “How a Decentralized Budget Works.” I’m talking about how we raise awareness and investment for outreach at St. George’s, Valley Lee – what we call the Second Collection. It’s re…
  • Ten-Minute Fundraiser
    Vital Posts
    Okay, so I might be underestimating a tad, but here’s an idea for a quick-and-easy fundraiser. Think about upcoming church-wide events. Hymn sing? Thanksgiving gathering? Wreath making? You want an event that will attract a significant prop…
  • And Forgive Us Our Debts...
    Vital Posts
    How do parish’s talk about debt --- when many parishioners are crushed by debt? We began this three part series on debt retirement talking about the impact of debt on the mission and ministry of a parish. A reminder that the current rule of…
  • A Debt Campaign is Never About---Debt!
    Vital Posts
    Part 2 of a series on debt retirement. In my last blog, I wrote about important questions to ask when considering the impact of debt on your operating budget. The current rule of thumb is that debt services should comprise no more than about 25% o…
  • Is Debt Limiting Mission?
    Vital Posts
  • Making the Intangible….Tangible
    Vital Posts
    Often when I hold annual giving workshops, I hear how hard it is for people to give to an operating budget. Even when operations is described as “ministry,” it still can seem much more intangible then making a Kiva loan to a woman for a new micro…
  • June 2014 Editor’s Letter: Finance and Administration
    Vital Posts
    As congregational leaders, we seek to find the right balance between tending to the temporal matters of our churches and working towards our hopeful vision of what God is asking us to do in our communities. Having the right tools in place helps us …
  • Help When You Need It
    Vestry Papers
    Whether a broken stained glass window or a storm takes the roof off the church, here are recommendations for vestries to consider when evaluating property and casualty insurance plans.
  • For Things Done and Left Undone
    Vestry Papers
    Regular evaluation of all of a church’s insurance policies is an important part of the vestry’s responsibilities. This article looks at types of liability insurance that every congregation should consider
  • Endowments
    Vestry Papers
    Key issues congregations should consider when planning for and creating an endowment.
  • Finance, Administration, and Leadership Resources
    Your Turn
    Guides, model policies and procedures, financial forms, and other resources to assist congregations, developed by the Congregational Consultants group from the Diocese of Massachusetts.
  • May 2014 Editor's Letter
    Vital Posts
    Thank you.  While this may seem an odd way to start an editor’s letter, I’m eager to show my appreciation for all of the ECF Vital Practices and Vestry Papers bloggers and contributors, Facebook and Twitter followers, readers and subscriber…
  • Electronic Giving Card: For Offering Plate
    Your Turn
    If parishioners give electronically, how will their offerings get blessed? "I give electronically" cards may be the answer.
  • Are We Prepared to Receive?
    Vital Posts
    How an invitation or gift is received can be a telling indicator…. I live in small city. The other night I was coming out of a restaurant with some girl friends and found a wallet on the ground near my car. I looked inside and found a cell pho…
  • Financing Mission
    Vital Posts
    “What’s St. George’s mission statement?” a member of our finance committee asked me. My answer was straightforward, though I think it took him back: “We don’t have one.” This committee member, you see, was drafting an endowm…
  • Discretionary Funds: Guiding Principles
    Your Turn
    Principles for managing clergy discretionary funds.
  • Our “Money Life”
    Your Turn
    How does my money life influence how I live out my Baptismal Covenant?
  • Affordable Care Act: Resources
    Tools
    The Medical Trust offers information and resources to help church employers learn how healthcare reform affects them.
  • Who's Responsible for What?
    Vital Posts
    Budget setting time! Does it bring up feelings of excitement and anticipation for the year ahead--or feelings of dread at the arguments and tension to ensue? Some tension around budget setting does have to do with the reality that money is no…
  • Talking About Money
    Vital Posts
    Let's talk about money. Now that we’re in June, half-way through the year, how do your finances look? Is everything is on track for ending the year in sound fiscal condition? Summer may be a good time for your vestry to take stock, perhap…
  • Putting the Fun in Fundraising
    Vital Posts
    Every year at diocesan convention, we hear the same browbeating about raising money for seminaries. One of the retired priests has a real passion for supporting the seminaries, but his frustration at the lack of wide participation translates into a…
  • Don't Kill Your 1%
    Vital Posts
    Cutting the office budget - and especially the print newsletter - is an easy target. It seemed every year I served as the administrator at a parish, I would be put to task to advocate that my office budget was already running as leanly as could…
  • Faithful Budgets, Stronger Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    As stewardship season in the Episcopal Church draws near, we decided to explore the groundwork for a successful stewardship campaign. The following series of articles explores a whole range of topics, including the connection between a transparent …
  • Surviving or growing into the future?
    Vital Posts
    Last week I remembered a resource about “survival mode” vs. “growth mode” for congregations. There are lots of resources available about this topic, but my notes pointed me to a short, easy description I could remember and share with others…
  • Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs
    Tools
    A comprehensive, user-friendly manual which supports the increasingly complex work of all treasurers and parish administrators. Available in English and Spanish.
  • Taking Care of Business
    Vital Posts
    I've been getting email inquiries about money. Not scams urging me to wire funds to needy causes abroad, nor do I mean grant requests. These come from parish leaders wrestling with money and finances. Some of the questions are fairly straightfo…
  • How to Prepare for a Capital Campaign
    Tools
    A capital campaign is an opportunity to identify new leaders and create opportunities for mission and service.
  • Small Changes, Big Impacts
    Vital Posts
    With the start of 2012, many people - including myself - are considering ways to improve their health and well-being. Resolutions will be made and, if research on New Year’s resolutions is any indication, nearl…
  • Are we being faithful as fiduciaries?
    Vital Posts
    “Fiduciary.” When I first heard the word it was a bit of a stumbling block, a mouthful of technical legalese. But in years of working with nonprofit and church groups, I eventually picked up its meaning by context. Basically, members of governi…
  • Dream Budget
    Vital Posts
    Our finance committee held its first meeting this week to build the 2012 budget. For the third year in a row I have encouraged staff and ministry leaders to submit “dream budgets” that will let the vestry know what directions they would pursue …
  • Editor's Letter: September 2011
    Vital Posts
    September is a time of new beginnings. Summer vacations are over and the start of the new church program year brings a sense of optimism, a chance to try something new. For the September and October Vestry Papers, we’re sharing stories from i…
  • Tax Credit?
    Vital Posts
    Today’s blog post might just save your congregation some money. Last week, Bishop Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina learned that two of the congregations in his diocese were eligible for a tax credit through the Health Care Act of 2010. …
  • Facing Financial Adversity
    Vestry Papers
    “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life; what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on....”
  • When the Next Egg Shrinks
    Vestry Papers
    How do you manage your parish’s operations when the value of the endowment shrinks?
  • Finances: Leading by Example
    Vestry Papers
    Like pruning a vineyard in a drought, how a parish spends its money during tough times is critical — and like it or not, sends a strong message to parishioners about their own spending
  • L.E.A.D.E.R. - The Mission Driven Budget
    Tools
    It’s no secret. Parish budgets usually aren’t dynamic or compelling. They’re a series of numbers trapped in straight lines. Context is everything. In the right context, those numbers are the legend to a map: Where did we come from? Where are we…
  • Administering Charitable Endowments
    Vestry Papers
    Healthy endowments play a significant role in the long-term stability of a church. Part of the stewardship responsibility of a vestry, therefore, is to understand the rules associated with the proper administration of endowment funds.
  • What About Endowment Spending Policies?
    Vestry Papers
    There are two basic ways of distributing money from your endowment fund: an “income-only” policy, or a “total return” policy.
  • Swimming Naked
    Vestry Papers
    Swimming naked, you say? How is that like using endowment income for operating needs? Answer: No one notices ‘til the tide goes out.
  • No Endowment Fund Means Just That
    Vestry Papers
    Two stories, one problem. Both were small churches. Perhaps they thought they were too small to have an endowment fund. Or perhaps they thought the vestry would deal with a major bequest when the time came. In both cases, the churches quickly establi…
  • Dealing with Risk and Falling Markets...
    Vestry Papers
    In bad times and good, the principles that vestries should follow in their fiduciary oversight of long-term investments are the same. Especially when the markets are down, it is essential not to lose your head.
  • A Good Crisis is a Good Opportunity
    Vestry Papers
    The latest saying making the rounds is, “Never waste a good crisis.” And with good reason, for whether congregations find their budgets funded through pledges or endow- ment income or both, vestries are facing hard financial decisions.
  • L.E.A.D.E.R. — The Mission-Driven Budget
    Vestry Papers
    What follows are insights into the “narrative budget,” growing in popularity because of its ability to draw members of the congregation into the budget process...and keep them there.
  • The Ten Commandments for Vestries
    Vestry Papers
    Thou shalt accept the fact that you can't fix everything.
  • The spiritual side of church finances
    Vestry Papers
    As vestry members, we often spend so much time worrying over the “deficits” and “losses” and “funding gaps” reported each month that we are unable to see the true abundance that is right before us.
  • Investing Your Endowment
    Webinars
    This webinar will look at how your investment policy statement, spending rules, and asset allocation are intimately related. Vestries, finance committees and other leaders in Episcopal churches and organizations are called upon to make important deci…
  • Legacy Societies and Your Planned Giving Ministry
    Webinars
    Learn how a legacy society will enhance and empower your congregation's planned giving ministry. ECF staff and representatives from parishes with active legacy societies will discuss how legacy societies have made an impact in their congregations. Pr…
  • Basics of Planned Giving
    Webinars
    This webinar focuses on the basics of planned giving, how it differs from annual stewardship and capital campaigns, how your parish can build endowment through life income gifts, and you will have a plan of action by the end of the web conference. We…
  • Why Endowment Structure Matters
    Webinars
    Getting the structure of your endowment right is often the key to its success. If you want to encourage legacy gifts to your endowment, you need to be able to explain how the money will be used, invested and spent, and who is in charge of making thos…
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This web conference will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Epi…
  • Why Endowment Structure Matters
    Webinars
    Getting the structure of your endowment right is often the key to its success. If you want to encourage legacy gifts to your endowment, you need to be able to explain how the money will be used, invested and spent, and who is in charge of making thos…
  • The Opportunities of Charitable Remainder Trusts
    Webinars
    This webinar on opportunities of chariatble remainder trusts features a conversation's with ECF's new legal counsel, Nancy Marx, and David Leibell, ECF's prior attorney in planned giving work.
  • Spending Rules for Endowments
    Webinars
    Using proper spending rules with your endowment is key to maintaining confidence and trust with your congregation and a key component of proper endowment management. Participants will learn about policies and practices to protect, manage, and grow yo…
  • Basics of Endowments
    Webinars
    This webinar reviews basic principles and best practices for endowment management. You will examine important, and easy to use, documents to use for structuring your endowment and for clarifying its purpose. Participants will also learn about endowme…
  • Charitable Gift Annuities: 2013 Successes and Plan
    Webinars
    ECF hosts quarterly webinars that focus on relevant topics for Planned Giving and Development Leaders. This webinar focused on charitable gift annuities and featured insights from Craig Bossi, ECF’s VP of Finance, Joanne T. Pipkin, Principal, State…
  • Transformation by Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    Whether you are considering embarking on a capital campaign, fearing that you need to conduct one, ignoring the need for one, or recovering from mistakes made in a past campaign, you should come hear the surprising good news - A capital campaign done…
  • Basics of Endowments
    Webinars
    This workshop reviews basic principles and best practices for endowment management. You will examine important, and easy to use, documents to use for structuring your endowment and for clarifying its purpose. Participants will also learn about endowm…
  • Basics of Parish Finances
    Webinars
    How congregations spend their money is a clear indication of their understanding of mission and ministry. For any parish leader, lay or clergy, a quick look at the financial situation can help one discern a key piece of the congregation's identity an…
  • Flourishing in Faith: Celebrating the Harvest
    Webinars
    This webinar will be based on the Flourishing In Faith series of bulletin inserts produced by The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. (TENS) We will explore how to use the bulletin inserts to engage your congregation in thoughtful reflection about the…
  • Legacy Societies and Your Planned Giving Ministry
    Webinars
    Learn how a legacy society will enhance and empower your congregation's planned giving ministry. Jim Murphy and representatives from parishes with active legacy societies will discuss how legacy societies have made an impact in their congregations.
  • Making a Planned Gift to Benefit Your Congregation
    Webinars
    Join other parishioners just like you to learn more about planned giving options and how they can benefit both you and your congregation. Planned or legacy giving is an important aspect of your stewardship and can take many different forms such as a …
  • Major Donors for Dioceses
    Webinars
    Why are your wealthiest Episcopalians giving more to their alma mater than to the Church? Should you care? Can you change things? This webinar will address how to build relationships with the financial visionaries in your pews. We will discuss donor …
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This webinar will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal …
  • Basics of Planned Giving
    Webinars
    This web conference focuses on the basics of planned giving, how it differs from annual stewardship and capital campaigns, how your parish can build endowment through life income gifts, and you will have a plan of action by the end of the web confere…
  • Basics of Endowments
    Webinars
    This workshop reviews basic principles and best practices for endowment management. You will examine important, and easy to use, documents to use for structuring your endowment and for clarifying its purpose. Participants will also learn about endowm…
  • Best Practices for Annual Giving Campaigns
    Webinars
    This workshop provides an overview for your parish on how to set up a year-round stewardship program focusing on clear theological grounding and practical tools to implement your efforts. Participants will learn how to move forward on planning your S…
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