By Carl Sneyd
Published: October 2008
A lot of parishes are successfully using the narrative budget to show how and to what ministries within their community their financial resources are being allocated. The 8.5" x 11" template for St Swithin's found on the Diocesan website, under Programs, Stewardship Development, provides a valuable starting point for parishes beginning to use this format. Call us at the Diocesan Resource Centre if you need help in getting going on this part of your year round Stewardship program.
The parishes that are already using that format as part of their successful year round stewardship program can make their narrative budgets more memorable with just a couple of changes.
When I speak to parish councils and corporations, I stress the need to keep the work of the community in the forefront, using informative bulletin inserts and lively announcements. One way to keep the announcement interesting is to add a human element. So why not enhance the Outreach section of your narrative budget with a quotation or an excerpt from a letter or e-mail received by the incumbent or staff from someone deeply affected by a particular program or action: 7 year old Janie said at the end of this year's popular Vacation Bible school, "I was really sad when it was over. It was the best time ever" or (from a note received by the rector) "I want to say thank you to your secretary Mary for listening to me the other day. I've been having some grief issues and she helped me get through a really bad time last week. Things are looking better now. Thanks again."
Another way of enhancing the narrative budget is by using pictures. The proliferation of inexpensive digital cameras, including phone cams, means that reasonably high quality pictures of parish events can be readily available for easy reproduction in the narrative budget. Happy smiling faces shown at an event say far more about what's going on than just a bulleted laundry list of groups and programs. A picture of a particularly well lit piece of stained glass or its vibrant colours splashed on the walls and floor of the sanctuary will draw the eye in worship section. A call for pictures from the congregation will probably result in a flood of good quality, usable images in a versatile digital format.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a well-composed colour picture is worth even more. Colour printing greatly enhances the effectiveness of pictures and coloured charts. High speed colour laser copying is available at the Diocesan Resource Centre at a very reasonable (that means cheap) cost for parishes who want to make use of this resource. Call the Finance Department for details.
Changing the format from the 8.5" x 11" tri-fold to a larger 8.5" x 14" four fold or an even larger newsmagazine format, allows more room for stories and pictures. Enhancing your narrative budget now means it can also become an information piece for new people coming to your parish, because it clearly says this is who we are, this is some of what we do and this is what our plans are for the next year and by the way, here's a snapshot of our finances. When your narrative budget becomes an attractive, eye-catching, up-beat, information-filled publication, it can help answer a lot of newcomers' questions and spark interest in your community. When people can see that your parish is a lively, active place filling the needs of many different people, they will want to join and participate in the life of their new church home with their time, their talent and their treasures.
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