In the last article we covered the value of having a tiered approach to missions giving. Now that we have come up with the tiers and you have categorized your various partners, it’s time to figure out how much your church should give to various partners. Here are a few things to consider as you land on how much to give:
What percentage of your funds would you like to go to those in Own, Catalyze, and Bless categories?
Within each of these tiers, churches need to decide how much to give individuals, families, and organizations.
Let’s start with that first question. As you consider what percentage of funds should go to each tier, keep in mind that if you want the partnerships that are in the “Own” tier to be most directed towards and celebrated, you probably want to consider that at least half or even seventy-five percent of your global missions funding should go towards those in the “Own” category. For those in the “Catalyze” tier, you’ll want to consider giving fifteen to thirty percent of your budget. For those in the “Bless” tier, you’ll want to consider giving ten to twenty-five percent of your budget.
These percentages will aid your vision by helping you to celebrate what you intend to give more time and attention to, while still valuing other organizations that your members get behind.
Crunching the Numbers
Beginning with the “Own” category, I have found it particularly helpful to give around fifteen to twenty percent of a Sent-One’s overall budget. Here’s how that breaks down for Individuals, Couples, and Families:
The average individual will raise around $3,000 to $4,000 per month.
The average couple will generally double that amount, so between $6,000 & $8,000 per month.
The average family will generally raise between $9,000 to $12,000.
These numbers come from averaging our 50 or more people on the field from Cornerstone. A common question at this point is why are budgets doubled for most couples? This isn’t the case in the US. A pastor isn’t paid double if he has a family. Overseas salaries are generally crafted around a needs-based salary. This is because, as a married couple or a family going overseas, the entire family is all in. Spouses generally do some work with the ministry and do not have the freedom, capability, or space to do other part-time work. Therefore families are paid based on the family’s need, which doubles for couples, and includes an increase per child. I have found it helpful to our Sent-Ones to base our church’s giving to their support on rough percentages of their overall budget and their overall life needs in order to really support their needs-based salary.
So, looking at the above numbers and considering fifteen to twenty percent of a Sent-Ones budget, your church could consider for the “Own” category:
Individuals - $450-$800/month. I have found quite a few churches that give $500 to individuals overseas.
Couples - $900-$1,600/month. A decent amount of churches do $1,000/per couple.
Families - $1,350-$2,400/month.
This fifteen to twenty percent number seems to be a sweet spot for us a church to sustainably give towards our Sent-Ones, while keeping them from being too dependent on our church. If our church had to make some changes to our giving, the Sent-Ones are not too dependent on the church for financial support. Churches that give forty to fifty percent will run into long-term issues when vision and strategy changes, or when the church begins to send more people overseas. While forty or fifty percent giving might work from the beginning, it likely won’t work when you’ve sent more than ten units overseas.
For the “Catalyze” category I encourage churches to consider five to ten percent which equates to:
Individuals - $150-$400/month.
Couples - $300-$800/month.
Families - $450-$1,200/month.
For the “Bless” category I encourage churches to consider a one-time gift or a flat dollar amount that is given:
Individuals - $50-$100/month.
Couples - $100-$150/month.
Families - $150-$$200/month.
Factor in Scalability
Obviously, these numbers should all shift based on the ability of your church. The point being, be careful about giving without factoring in scalability. Our church has found these percentages to work well with our budget. Maybe you need to shift those percentages to fit your church's budget a little better. Do what is right for your church. These numbers are not meant to be rules, but some guidelines to help your church be in the ballpark of giving to your people.
So to apply this, take that list of partners who have been designated as Own, Catalyze, and Bless. Enter in how much they are being given per month. See if there are any outliers. Are any of your partners that you consider “Bless” getting more than some of your partners you’d consider to be in your “Own” category? Reevaluate your giving as needed.
The Budgeting Template spreadsheet (available for $5 for non-members and free for Upstream members) populates what you’re giving to Own, Catalyze, and Bless and helps you to determine if what you’re giving to partners in each category is too much, too little, or on target.
In the next blog post we’ll take a look at how Sent-Ones can raise support within your church’s unique giving structure.
Mike Ironside is Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. He has served on staff with Cornerstone since 2006 in varying roles from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for 2 years. Mike is the Director of Cohorts for the Upstream Collective. He also serves as chairman of the board for Campus to Campus, a missions organization dedicated to getting US college students connected to church planting movements amongst college students worldwide.