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Church music ministry Accounting procedures

Dear listers,

My original query: I'd like to know what and how other churches handle
money for their music program, particularly non-budgeted money
(endowment funds, undesignated donations, memorials, etc). What process
must you go through in order to use those funds? What do you use them
for? What committees are in place for it's management? How many people
are on these committees, or how many people must you go through? I'm
particularly interested in hearing from mainline denominational churches,
especially Presbyterian.

Thanks for your responses (see below), and those who checked out our
website. Everyone is jealous of my music room!

Josh and Nancy Peterson, Directors of Music
1st United Presbyterian -- 1303 Royal Heights Rd.
Belleville IL, 62223 -- (618) 233-0295 -- 233-0490 (fax) -- joshandnancy(a)

We have a rather loose operation at my church (Episcopal). My extra fund
is entirely at my discretion, although I always discuss it with the boss
(rector) before doing anything big. The Worship committee has no say
over it. I use it mostly for extra instruments during the year and may
use it for some work on the organ.
I serve full-time in a United Methodist church. Our membership is around
620, average attendance around 340. Chancel Choir has 45 members. Our
process is pretty simple. There is a line item in our annual budget for
purchase of music. We have line items in the budget for tuning, office
supplies, etc. I do not use a committee or other approval board, except
the church finance committee for the annual budget.
We also run a separate Performing Arts Series, which includes two major
performances by the Chancel Choir each year. This is run independent of
the church budget, with series sponsors and donations from free-will
offerings offsetting the cost of orchestra players, sheet music,
programs, etc.
I also usually make a plea a couple of times each year for people to give
anthems as memorials. The anthem is listed in the bulletin that week as a
memorial, however they wish to have it listed.
We recently purchased a used digital piano for our children's music
ministry, and that was done via a memorial gift from a generous donor. I
have served in churches in the past that did not approve of my going
directly to members of the congregation to ask for money, because they
believed that would reduce what those people gave in the offering.
However, that is simply not how giving works. Most people understand
that special giving is not counted in their estimates of giving or in
their tithe.
I think it's definitely worth checking out the possibility of memorial
gifts for specific needs, or creating an endowment for general needs.
Check around, because there may be people in your congregation with
experience in setting up special funds like endowments or trusts. Then,
wow the congregation with a couple of hot anthems, and make the request
while they're excited.
I have always run everything through the church treasurer. I try to keep
communication lines open, and that way the money is all legitimately
For decades I have encouraged people to consider supporting the music
department of the church. Sometimes an estate will actually designate
funds. Also, I keep people aware of the current price of 30 copies of a
new anthem. I have had many individuals from the choir, and from
Presbyterian and Lutheran congregations take the challenge and 'purchase'
an anthem. The choice of music remains mine, but I note on the music
folder if a particular piece was purchased from designated funds and I
put that in the Sunday bulletin every time we sing one of those pieces.
The checks have never flooded the offices, but they have been steady for
thirty years.
I still expect the church to keep a strong general budget support for
music programs, but supplemental funding allows individuals to feel part
of the inside process as well.
I direct at a Presbyterian church near Cleveland, Ohio, with about 1000
members. I have a very nice endowment. I use it to buy music, to buy
equipment (music stands, etc.), pay singers, pay instrumentalists, pay to
feed a guest group, dry cleaning....just about anything I want. I use a
church PO# to buy things like music. I use a reimbursement type form if
I buy anything or when we pay singers or players....I sign the form and
the church's treasure signs the form and it's paid.
In the eight years I've worked there, I've never had a budget because the
endowment takes care of everything. I'm not sure how it started but I
think it started with one big gift and then others were added to it....I
recall being told that it was the sale of a choir member's home who died
that started it.
We also have had a couple of other special funds associated with the
music program -e.g. one started by a choir member for robes. We also
have separate endowments for children, bells, and organ maintainance.
I've never been questioned on any expense by anyone. No committee is
involved. It's a dream. Try to get away from the Presbyterian
"committee system"'s terrible and really slows things down.
I started a patron sponsored concert series when I arrived here 7 years
ago. The support for that, now around $16,000, plus other non-budgeted
donations goes into a general Special Music Fund. It is handled by our
Financial Secretary just like everything else in the church. I request
checks from the account in the same way I do everything else. The monies
remain from year to year. We have received "bonuses" for the music
program from "end of the year reserves" and those go into this account as
well. I have used those funds for "enhancement" purchases for the music
program such as overhead choir mikes for the stage in our Fellowship Hall
and to cover some expenses of our Adult Ensemble when they travelled to
Washington to sing at the National Cathedral.
There are no committees that decide how the money is spent. I usually
discuss projects with our Music Committee, but, generally the decision is
mine to make. I send a request to our Financial secretary to have checks
prepared, what they are for, and which fund to use.
We started with a $10,000 memorial gift, let people know it could be
added to (after clearing with the donor), and encouraged choir members in
particular to give to the fund over and above their regular pledge to the
church. Because their track record had been so good for years, we
arranged for the fund to be handled by the Presbyterian Foundation.
Administration has been very loose, though I think I was able to get the
principal protected before I retired. (fund was up to about $30,000
then). As director of music I made all decisions re use of the
proceeds, and for a long time most of it was ploughed back in. The
parameters, in an entry somewhere in the Session minutes, were originally
for instrumental enhancement of music for Sunday worship, especially
involving the children's or youth choirs. When we had a reasonable group
of church members who were instrumentalists donating their services, the
fund grew. When I left, my strong recommendation was that proceeds
should go toward paying instrumentalists for one major concert with
orchestra each year (so that that outreach could be protected from
possible future budget trimming). I was at the church 24 years, so
didn't mind being patient while things grew. I guess my advice would be
to be sure that there is as close to an ironclad understanding as
possible re how and what portion of funds may be spent. Given that, I
personally don't see the necessity for a committee to get involved in
actual disbursal, but the politics of your situation may dictate
We have several different accounts for our Music & Arts Ministry and I
would be happy to give you the rundown as to how they are currently
managed. I will also give you a 1-10 rating scale of how effective that
management style is for that account (1 being poor, 10 being excellent)
All these funds are endowments and are separate from the Budgeted items
for the music area.

MUSIC SCHOLARSHIP - $600 per student per semester - expeditures approved
by the Director of Music & Arts. "10" - There is only one use for this
money, and we know exactly how much will be spent at the beginning of
each semester. Our music scholarships are privately raised and the fund
is currently at $3000 give or a take a few hundred. We have had as many
as six and as few as 3 students at any one time. Money for the
scholarships comes in as needed and we have never been short. The
students are not "section leaders" per se, but are used to enhance the
choral ensemble.
CIVIC CHORAL ORGANIZATIONS - $5000 grant made to the church- expenditures
approved by the Director of Music & Arts. "7" - Although it is easy to
disburse the money, this situation would be far more properly handled by
a board of some sort with 3-5 members. This was a gift from an anonymous
donor which was intended to encourage our church to sponsor the formation
of civic choral organizations - children and adult choirs. It is the
first such grant that has been given and is renewable in 3 years.
ADULT CHOIR FUND - $300 - disbursements are decided by the choir
officers. "10" - It is their money, so they manage it as they see fit.
This is money that is raised by the adult choir members and managed by
the choir treasurer. The money is used to help supplement parties, send
birthday/sympathy cards, flowers, etc.
MUSIC FOUNDATION - $180,000 - expenditures approved by donating family.
"2" - a gift was made to the music ministry that was originally $205,000,
but has since declined because of stock market woes. The donating family
maintains complete control of the money. The senior minister and I are
to determine what sorts of special programming we would like to see
during the course of the year and the family determines which they will
support. There is a power retention issue that is nearly intolerable and
I would never have accepted a "gift" such as this without having
established that the church would receive a 6% (standard) disbursement
from the foundation annually with an appointed board/committee of 5-7
people determining how the money will be spent for the year. With the
current setup, there is no way to budget anything and the family has
promised to guarantee any additional expense in order to maintain control
of the money. Whatever you do, don't do this.
We do also receive undesignated memorials and/or gifts that are made to
the church and those are usually disbursed according to the Director's
direction. In our situation, the Director of Music & Arts has strong
control over all the monies. I am not particularly comfortable with that
because it leaves too much room for criticism and resentment if the money
is spent other than how people thought it should be spent. However, our
music foundation is the other extreme, where the director has little or
no say in how the money is spent and there is great resentment over that
as well - both from the director and from the congregation.
At 1st Unitarian Universalist of San Diego, some of the music moneys are
in the annual Church budget, a detailed request/explanation of which is
prepared by the music staff and then the Music Committee (ca. 10
members). This would include items like choir music, vocal and
instrumental soloists, tunings, and the like. The Concert Series and
other special events (fundraising for choir tour or new piano, commission
of new anthem) go through the Music Reserve, which does not "disappear"
at the end of the fiscal year. In here are the general reserve (concert
donations, salad bars, etc.), and earmarked donations, also under the
supervision of the Music Committee.
I am a Director of music at a United Methodist Church. We have a Fine
Arts Committee that meets once per month to discuss and bring to platform
our needs for the ministry of music. Our memorials are usually designated
as music or whatever. We vote on the designated memorials and donations
for use in the Fine Arts ministry. If we
need undesignated funds we usually have to send a Rep to the finance
comittee then on for vote from the Church Council (the large body).

on June 10, 2005 10:00pm
IF you are member of the Anglican community, I suggest you get your PCC to form a sub committee and appoint an auditor to scrutinise any music accounts, complimented by somebody who has a professional background in multiculturalism and a doctorate in political correctness, health and safety etc. A further sub-sub committee should then be appointed to scrutinise and direct the work of the sub committee so that any reference to the Christian faith can be systematically weeded out in order to avoid offending those of other faiths who might find themselves visiting the church for some peculiar reason. The bible, Book of Common Prayer and numerous hymn books published over the last 2000 years are full of references and sentiments which could cause extreme offence. For example, we all know the famous hymn, 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' which contains those abhorrent words; 'the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate'......

It is of course extremely important to ensure that any religious melody should not scale too much as to cause embarrassment and resentment from those who cannot either reach the highest or lowest notes. It can also encourage competition from the choir who might smugly reach such notes and thus encourage of elitism. the 'them and us' syndrome.

The BBC has, of course, done a tremendous amount of work to ameliorate this problem by regularly performing the works modern hymnologists who eschew musical skills, thus putting us all on an even footing with tunes scaling no more than a second or minor third, accompanied by lots and lots of heavy drumming.

So far organists are concerned. It is thought that the committees should insist that their church organists waive their professional fees and the monies passed on to a deserving charity, e.g. 'The abolition of ASBOs in the community' or 'Fun themes for those restrained by ASBOs'. Whilst writing about the musical content of any service, the committees should insist that the organist doesn't allow his playing to be so loud as to interrupt the conversations of the people going about their ways when in church. Such intrusion is an unwarranted assault on an individual's human rights and in spite of the organist's ability, it could prove offensive to somebody who dislikes organs or brings back disagreeable memories, such as the prison chapel.

So far as the liturgy is concerned. Your appointed sub and sub-sub committees really have very little work to do. Any liturgy that might have been previously tolerated would have long gone and the syntax simplified in order for it to be understood by all, whatever their age or intellectual capability. One final word. The bishops are making remarkable progress about the views of the agnostics. In this connection there is nothing the sub committee and sub-sub committees need worry themselves about. It really is a wonderful success story - Our modern day Bishops and the agnostics are in full agreement with each other.

A final word about the use of incense. Many believe that it has no place in today's services, as it could be a health and safety matter. I suggest, however, that this is a matter to be discussed at sub and sub-sub committee level, as it is becoming more and more the norm for laymen to burn or smoke tobacco during weddings and funerals and being serious tax payers, their individual human rights really must be respected.

PS. Have you thought about the revenue possibilities by wheel clamping unknown vistors to the church car park.
on January 21, 2006 10:00pm
stupid stupid
on April 13, 2006 10:00pm
hello, I'm young chorus' director, and I nedd partitures, and religious music, plese if some body can helpme write me to