One of the things we're trying to do this year is regular finance updates. My plan is once a quarter to do a longer update on a Sunday, and in the months in between to do an update via my blog.
Those of you who were around at the start of the year will know that our goal this year was, after a number of years of rapid expansion, to get our expenditure under control, to improve our longer term financial planning, and to begin to build up reserves to give us a platform for future growth (getting better before we get bigger). That resulted in us taking some very tough decisions which, although hard, were essential if we were to safeguard the long term future of our community.
So the numbers.
So far this year our offering income has been very encouraging. In April we budgeted for offerings of £65,713 but actually received £112,695. For January to April we budgeted for income of £262,852 and actually received £322,313. That puts us just under £60,000 ahead of budget which is very good. There are a number of large gifts included in that total, but our regular giving is also above budget which is very positive.
On the expenditure side our expenditure remains below budget, although in part that is because of the timing of working being done and bills coming in. We need to continue to keep a close eye on expenditure to keep it within what is a very tight budget for the rest of the year, but so far we're doing well. After we've completed June and we've got 6 months of expenditure to report I'll share more detailed expenditure figures, but for now be assured we're doing OK.
All of this means that we have been able to increase our reserves from around £28,000 at the start of the year to just under £48,000 at the end of April. We've also improved our available cash (money in the bank which isn't in reserves or allocated to a restricted project so can't be spent on anything else) to just under £85,000 at the end of April. We still have a long way to go to reach our goal of having three months of expenditure in reserves (around £250,000), but the extra giving will allow us to get there more quickly than we initially imagined.
On top of all that we have also received a £10,000 gift for either our next site or our next building. Amazing!
I can't tell you how much the generosity of our community means to me as a leader. It always reminds me of this passage from the book of Acts:
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36, 37 NIVUK)
People being willing to trust leaders with their giving is one of the biggest encouragements any leader can receive. It's therefore no surprise to me that the first time we hear of Barnabas, this 'son of encouragement', is because of his financial generosity.
I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have given so far this year, wherever you are on the occasional giver, regular giver, tither and sacrificial giver line. Our policy as a community is that the elders and trustees (which includes me) don't get to know what anyone gives. That's probably the right policy for us to have, but it does mean that I can't thank individuals directly. Please just be assured of my thanks and gratitude towards everyone in our community who gives. You are all sons and daughters of encouragement to me.