Blogging with Ministry Financial Leaders, Cash Reserve Goals vs. Actuals
In September 2010 we asked members of ECCU’s Ministry Advisory Panel (MAP)** about their experience with and expectations for participating in blogs. 58% of respondents had no previous experience participating in a blog discussion. Of these, 39% said they would comment or blog on specific topics. Non-profit administration and management were the most popular topics for panelists who have participated in blog discussions. The ability to interact with other bloggers was also highly valued. As for cash reserves, respondent ministries took a year-to-date hit in September, with only 4% reporting cash reserve levels above their target, and over 56% reporting cash reserve levels below target.
**The MAP is composed of ECCU member and non-member ministry staff and leaders representing evangelical Christian churches, businesses, schools, and other ministries. This report was produced by ECCU’s research department.
BLOGGING WITH MINISTRY FINANCIAL DECISION MAKERS
ECCU recently launched a blog that gives ministries a place to learn and talk about managing money. The blog offers regular contributions from ECCU experts in banking operations, ministry development, and money management, including occasional posts from CEO Mark G. Holbrook. This survey sought to uncover how the blog can best meet subscribers’ needs. Here are the results:
Question: Have you ever participated in a blog discussion?
- Only 40% of respondents had some experience participating in a blog discussion.
- 58% had never participated in a blog discussion.
Question: Do you currently subscribe to a blog?
- 37% of respondents currently subscribe to a blog.
Question: If you answered yes to either of the two previous questions, can you provide the name and web address for the blog(s) in which you've participated or to which you've subscribed?
The blogs our panelists subscribe to are many and diverse. Here is a list of those most frequently cited: (These links do not constitute an endorsement by ECCU.)
Question: What topics are most likely to cause you to participate in or subscribe to a blog?
Our panelists subscribe to blogs covering numerous topics. Non-profit financial management took the top spot as the topic most likely to elicit blog participation or subscription.
Question: What would you expect to see in a ministry banking blog that sought to add value to your ministry and/or to you as a ministry staff member?
This question generated quite a bit of response. Here are a few that stood out:
- Ministry leaders want to interact with each other to gather best practices and strategies for managing their ministries.
- Ministry leaders also want to remain current on regulatory and economic issues that may affect the organizations they serve.
We are constantly reminded about the dangers of the Internet. Some perceive it as a chasm where personal information can easily fall into the hands of evildoers. Like any other communication channel, common sense and good judgment are important when interacting online with individuals or organizations. There will always be some risk associated with using the Internet, just as there is risk that someone will lift information from that piece of paper we left on our desk before leaving work.
The challenge when focusing on potential threats inherent in new communication channels like the Internet is being careful not to miss legitimate opportunities that could greatly benefit your business processes. Some tools, like blogs, can add great value to ministries if they are managed responsibly and the interactions are carefully monitored to ensure topic relevancy and appropriateness.
If you haven’t already, try our blog. Ask the banking question that comes to your mind sometimes but you aren’t sure who to ask. Visit blog.eccu.org today.
CASH RESERVE GOALS VS. ACTUALS
Question: What is your cash reserve goal relative to your ministry’s annual operating budget?
- Overall, there were no significant changes since April 2010 (the last time this question was asked).
- Most ministries (73%) try to maintain between 2 and 5 months worth of their annual operating budget in cash reserves.
- Only 20% of ministries attempt to maintain less than 2 months worth of their annual operating budget in cash reserves.
Question: How do your current cash reserve levels compare to your cash reserve goal?
This question was intended to uncover how well ministries are doing at maintaining their commitment to healthy cash reserves. As a reminder, a ministry’s ability to implement and adhere to an appropriate cash reserves policy is indicative of the ministry’s ability to budget properly. In a down economy, it is also indicative of the ministry’s ability to respond to adverse circumstances.
- Whereas in April only 39% of ministries reported cash reserves levels under 20% of their goal, in September that number jumped by 15%, with 54% of ministries reporting that their cash reserve levels are less than 20% of their goal.
- At the other end of the spectrum, the number of ministries reporting that their cash reserve levels are more than 20% of their goal decreased by 12% for September versus 11% in April.
One can only hope that ministries’ reported performance on their cash reserve goals is simply a reflection of revenue seasonality—that they had to draw from reserves to cover for the slow summer months—and not a sign of worsening financials. The January 2011 survey will be the next time we ask these same cash reserve questions. In the meantime, be conservative in your 2011 budget planning.
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