Budgeting/Finance Dilemma
  • Claire H
    Posts: 358
    Been running into a big hurdle with our Director of Finance refusing to receive earmarked donations— including anyone that wants to donate to support sacred music. Has anyone else ever dealt with this, and how did you navigate the conversation? She is arguing that someone can give "only if we have a specific need outlined"...which totally overlooks the value of having any designated funds on hand so that I can have some resources to work with for the coming fiscal year (in which I am told I will be given next to no budget).
  • Only one place I see a problem in her argument:

    someone can give "only if we have a specific need outlined"


    The point of donors earmarking funds is the prevention of reappropriation.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,883
    The director of Finance like all of that ilk likes to have one big pot, to dole money out of to suit their priorities... If we all start giving restricted funds, the church would not be able to siphon money to uncle Teds beach the 'bishops' retirement house.

    If you have people that want to support Sacred Music, set up your own Sacred Music fund... Have it set to support say Sacred Catholic music in a certain area (that will include your parish). We have separate Traditional Community, Education, and music funds... Although we usually get wine donated to our music fund!
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 189
    If you have people that want to support Sacred Music, set up your own Sacred Music fund... Have it set to support say Sacred Catholic music in a certain area (that will include your parish).


    This might not be allowed. When our Latin Mass community was first starting out and they were paying to fly in an FSSP priest every Sunday for Mass (with permission from the bishop, obviously), the Chancery started questioning where the Latin Mass Community was getting all this money from to do this. They had their own bank account set up and people donated to it. The Diocese made them close the account and give the funds to parish to distribute.

  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 334
    Claire, I highly doubt the finance director can commandeer funds that way. If I, as a donor, give $200 to the church to pay for an Easter musician, I fully expect that the money will be used as earmarked. Unless the parish literally cannot pay the electricity bill, she has no right to do that. You should have every right to procure donors to support the ministry you want to do. Sounds like the pastor might need to get involved...
  • MarkB
    Posts: 374
    Donors may give restricted funds, which are recorded using a fictional bookkeeping account number or allocation number so the money can be tracked and spent/allocated from those designated funds at a later time, even if the money is deposited in the parish's general bank account. I've NEVER heard of a parish or bookkeeper saying that restricted funds were not permitted or could not be accepted unless the money could be spent immediately on something. To me, that borders on accounting incompetence. Is the pastor aware that the finance manager is refusing to accept donor restricted funds?
  • I agree with Mark. The whole point of Fund Accounting, the system used by nonprofits, is so that donors can designate funds for specific uses. This applies even if that money does not have an immediate use. The Finance Director either does not know how accounting works, or has some alternate motive for wanting everything to go to the general fund. Either way she is out of line in prohibiting restricted donations. You should definitely alert the pastor. If he doesn't want to do anything, you could also check with the diocesan finance director. I don't know about your situation, but in my diocese at least the diocesan finance director has pretty direct oversight of each parish.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,883
    @SponsaChristi
    This might not be allowed. [...] The Diocese made them close the account and give the funds to parish to distribute.

    This is allowed by the Charity Law in the U.K., our fund was accepted as a separate charity by the U.K. Government... I see that my friends in the U.S. have the charitable tax rebate so suspect it is legal in the U.S. too.

    Of course the Diocese may not like us funding an Una Voce chapter or the Latin Mass Society etc. , but it is really none of the Diocese business who I donate money to. Also any layman is within their rights to tell the Diocese it is none of their Business how we fund Mass Stipends. I was funding the Mass Stipends for supply priests coming in last year via the LMS for our parish, no questions were asked about where the money came from and I would not have given an answer.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,215
    DoFs think in line numbers. It could be simply that since there is no existing line number for sacred music donations, she literally wouldn't know how to accept it and put it into the accounting ledger.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,036
    DoF answers to pastor or administrator, right?

    Always ask people to make music-specific donations ATTN: you, along with an accompanying letter specifying it should be used for music only.

    Acting on the first point should set DoF straight; acting on the second closes the door completely.
  • Claire H
    Posts: 358
    The pastor is aware. This is his first pastorate and he has is still learning how when/how to put his foot down, especially in regards to anything financial.
  • Claire H
    Posts: 358
    @tomjaw, you are correct: "one big pot, to dole money out of to suit their priorities".
    Thanked by 2tomjaw ServiamScores
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 379
    I don't know if this will be helpful but our parish has an organ fundraiser with separate envelopes and they are a pink color with a photo of the organ. All monies from those envelopes are ear marked for the organ. Also, these envelopes are not part of the package that most parishioners receive once a month but are available in the narthex. So i would suggest something similar.
    Thanked by 1JL
  • Claire H
    Posts: 358
    @Kathy, we used to have this. There also was a button on the online giving portal. It's just in the recent months that it is being opposed. With last year being a tight year, they "want to show the bank that we are not spending much money this year". (?)
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,150
    From the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Administrative Handbook:

    Donors may restrict a check donation by making an entry on the check's "memo" line. Locations must honor the restrictions or designations on the checks.


    http://handbook.la-archdiocese.org/chapter-6/section-6-2/topic-6-2-2
    Thanked by 1JL
  • Claire H
    Posts: 358
    @irishtenor exactly! Unless the check is refused...which makes zero sense from a donor relations standpoint.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 334
    Squeaky wheel...

    Young pastor or not, it is his purview and he has every right (duty) to put the kibosh to it. It makes no sense. She's either lazy or scheming—or trying to cover something up.

    Going to him to show that what she is doing is an aberration of standard practice might prove beneficial in that it will provide him leverage to challenger her. Especially if these donations were permitted in the past.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • bangerman
    Posts: 31
    Would it make a difference if the potential donors bring this up with the pastor themselves? A pastor feeling direct pressure from donors externally may have a different reaction than now, where it seems easier for him to brush off the issue because it’s within his staff.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,150
    leverage to challenger her


    I don't know about what anyone else's diocese is like, but in my experience, if a pastor tells a member of his staff to do something, that's the law, end of discussion. He already has all the leverage he needs. If the finance manager doesn't want to be out of a job during Coronatide, she (is it a lady? I can't remember) will oblige.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,632
    Just a word of caution. Tread carefully. If the pastor is new and you are a hold-over from the Ancien Regime, he may be using the DoF to try to force you to quit; he mightn't be as 'green' as you think he is.

    I have been the victim of several plots in my current position by the current (new) pastor via the Finance Manager because of "financial hardships". These "financial hardships" have coincided with the hiring of yet another secretary/office manager/personal assistant for the pastor (who just has to show up to perform sacraments while these other people actually make all the decisions and run the parish). I am only staying in this position because of it pays American Dollars and the uncertainties of COVID-tide.

    So basically, be very careful, you don't know who the real problem here is, and if there is an ulterior motive. Bring it to the attention of the pastor once. Period. If nothing happens, do nothing. If they give you the money, say "Thank you", and back out of the room bowing. However, if they give you the money, don't be shocked if you are called in for a meeting with the pastor and Finance Manager in a few months time so they can tell you that the budget is just too tight, there are too many repairs that need to be made to the physical structure, etc., etc., and so A) they have to reduce your salary, even though you'll have the same workload, or B) reduce your workload so that your salary is reduced commensurately.

    Oh, and if they start talking about how important you are to the parish and how much they appreciate all that you do, that is a huge Red Flag, start looking for a new job.

    they "want to show the bank that we are not spending much money this year".

    This is a Red Flag for me. Be careful.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Claire H
    Posts: 358
    I appreciate the various thoughts and feedback.

    The pastor and I are actually quite good friends and have very open communication. He sincerely much wants me here. The Director of Finance (who is a she) has great loyalty to the parish and good intentions, but very limited understanding of the world of music/fine arts/what it takes to develop a substantial program. The paradigm which she is setting up for the just-begun fiscal year involves all money going to general.

    In a meeting today, I was told I can come up with a list of specific needs and that any time a donor wishes to give a gift to sacred music, they might be able to for a specific item on this need list.

    The same meeting included a vulnerable conversation addressing some of the interpersonal barriers that have been festering in recent months. I am grateful for that, though it was also quite exhausting.

    I am, however, still wrestling with the fact that at least for the coming year, I will be expected to "hand over" any and all money brought in by my program (for example, choir enrollment fees, which we have had in the past for youth Schola members), and then she/they will think about giving some of it back to me for choir expenses if they agree that a specific expense is necessary. That part feels overly controlling.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Elmar
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,215
    Oh, and if they start talking about how important you are to the parish and how much they appreciate all that you do, that is a huge Red Flag, start looking for a new job.

    I would love to hear more about this.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,215
    I don't know about what anyone else's diocese is like, but in my experience, if a pastor tells a member of his staff to do something, that's the law, end of discussion.

    A nuance may be helpful here. Depending on the diocese, finance people may often be the most powerful staffers in the parish--even more so than the pastor. They have frequent contact with the chancery, and money is important to chanceries, and thus they have frequent contact with some of the most powerful people in the chanceries.

    Every Monday morning, the finance person picks up the phone and calls down to the diocese to tell them the collection stats. These are the #s that keep parishes, and the chanceries that tax parishes, going. There's a good deal of power that accompanies access like this.

    At least it used to be done by phone. Probably it's an online form these days, but still there are certain relationships that iften make finance people the point persons for parish-diocesan relationships.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,632
    Oh, and if they start talking about how important you are to the parish and how much they appreciate all that you do, that is a huge Red Flag, start looking for a new job.


    I would love to hear more about this.

    Kathy, It's been the pattern over the past four years with "the new guy" and the finance guru. I have never in my life been told so many times how appreciated I am and how much the parish needs me. I have also never been trodden on and taken advantage of so often, either. I have also had my salary reduced every year since he took over, sometimes twice a year. There is a pattern: profuse gratefulness for a couple weeks; then a meeting in which I am told that I am going to have to have my salary reduced while still doing all the same stuff; then a couple days later a new secretary/PA for the pastor is hired.
    ------
    Clare: I realize that my views might be seen a cynical or whatever, but what you describe is in many ways similar to what I've been going through.

    The pastor and I are actually quite good friends and have very open communication.

    That's what I thought, too, when our "new guy" came in.

    He sincerely much wants me here.

    Yep, I've been told that many times, too. (See my response to Kathy, above.)

    I am, however, still wrestling with the fact that at least for the coming year, I will be expected to "hand over" any and all money brought in by my program (for example, choir enrollment fees, which we have had in the past for youth Schola members), and then she/they will think about giving some of it back to me for choir expenses if they agree that a specific expense is necessary. That part feels overly controlling.

    Are other parish societies expected to "hand over" their revenues, too?

    Watch out.
    Thanked by 3Liam tomjaw Elmar
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,883
    I would not hand over a penny of my funds, also I would never let anyone know the amount!
    Thanked by 2Elmar bdh
  • Claire H
    Posts: 358
    @Salieri — Yes, the other departments (the only other one that would tend to have program-specific fundraisers and donations was Youth Ministry) are being expected to follow the same protocol.

    It sounds like you have been through some pretty invalidating and painful experiences. I’m sure I would be just as on-edge were I in your shoes. I am sorry you have been treated with such dishonesty...that’s terrible.

    @tomjaw — Earmarked gifts were previously processed through the main office (donors’ checks written to the parish name with a designation in the memo or one-time gift buttons for different ministries on the website, which have now all been removed).
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,150
    I would contact the diocese, even if you have to use a pseudonym to do so. Donors are allowed to give to restricted funds, and the recipient (parish) is obligated to respect that or refuse the monies.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,632
    The relinquishing of funds and the pooling of restricted donations is legally worrying to me. Have they considered the (likely) possibility of a donor finding out and suing them?
    Thanked by 3tomjaw CHGiffen Elmar