How do Parish Financial Services Consultants support Disciples in Mission?
Parish Financial Services Consultants act as dedicated consultants in particular regions, a
on financial and operational matters, act
as liaisons between the collaboratives and other departments within RCAB, help build strong Pastoral Teams and Councils, provide resources and tools for budgeting for mission, and provide training specifically for Finance and Operations Managers.
How do Finance Councils work in a Collaborative?
The role of the Finance Council is to assist and advise the pastor of the parishes of the collaborative in the administration and finances of the temporal goods of the parishes. Each parish will need to have its own Finance Council, with minutes kept at each particular parish.
A large part of the work of the councils is to attend to shared programs and services and the expenses and allocations related to them across the parishes of the collaborative, so the councils would normally meet together. As an option, they could meet separately when addressing topics specific to or affecting only one parish.
How does the Collaborative Structure work when it comes to the parish finances?
The financial records of the parishes within a collaborative remain absolutely separate. The collaborative is not a separate entity financially and will not have its own set of financial records. It does not have a bank account, federal tax identification number, and is not a registered tax exempt religious organization 501(c) 3.
Extreme care will need to be taken on the part of the Finance & Operations Manager and reviewed by the Finance Council to maintain the financial integrity of each parish within the Collaborative. Parishes in the collaborative will benefit greatly by communicating financial information to keep parishioners informed. Shared bulletins with financial information for each parish in the collaborative will showcase transparency and accountability. We cannot overstate this enough but communication to parish staff and parishioners with financial, operational, ministerial and collaborative progress updates should be done often and with a sense of openness and integrity.
How does it work for a parish to be a cost center for a Collaborative?
One parish will be the center for all shared expenses, meaning they will pay for those shared program expenses, services and staff and then bill the allocated amounts to the other parishes within the collaborative. Because a collaborative is not a separate entity and does not have its own collaborative bank account, checks must be written, and shared expenses paid, from one of the parishes in the collaborative.
For example, St. A, St. B and St. C Parishes are in a collaborative. They share the cost of the Pastoral Associate’s salary because the Pastoral Associate serves all three parishes. They decided that St. B Parish will be the Cost Center. The Pastoral Associate’s check is written from the bank account of Saint B which bills Saint A and Saint C the agreed-upon share of her salary. Saints A & C send their payment to Saint B (most often this is all done through electronic transfer)
The parish selected as the cost center will likely be where the collaborative staff is housed and considerations will also be given to the ability of the parish to fund the expenses from a cash flow perspective. No parish in a collaborative should bear the burden of paying all shared expenses without getting reimbursed from the other collaborative parishes within a timely fashion. The allocation methods will be assessed and agreed upon together with the Finance Councils of all parishes in the collaborative
Methods of allocation should be simple, justifiable and fair.
Most Collaboratives are using IFRM base revenue to allocate the majority of their shared income and expenses because the base revenue is in alignment with the resources of each parish. Another method of allocation is a per-person method by which individuals from each parish attend a joint program– this would be allocated to the parishes based on the percentage of the total attendees attending from each parish.
For example, if there is a shared religious education program and 30% of students are from Saint A; 30% are from Saint B; and 40% are from Saint C, the cost of DRE salary and building overhead – lights, heat – are apportioned 30-30-40.
Finance Councils will be very involved in reviewing financial information throughout the year to ensure that the allocations between the parishes in the Collaborative are being properly accounted for and each parish is supporting the collaborative shared costs in a timely fashion.
Can parishes within a collaborative lend money to one another in order to cover emergency repairs to buildings?
Parishes within a collaborative should not be “lending” money to one another. Parishes remain responsible for their own assets and financial obligations. The current support structure for parishes in need of a loan remains in place throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. Costs (such as emergency repairs) that are linked to the patrimony of one parish should not be covered by another parish nor the collaborative.
Each parish retains responsibility for its own buildings, but there are some occasions when it may be appropriate to share costs related to the operations of the building and the one-time costs related to improving the space for the use of the shared program and/or service. Operational costs such as heat, electric and water could be allocated as part of the shared program and/or service costs. An example of this could be the central office building operating costs could be included in the overall administrative costs of the central office and allocated to each parish. Another example, if one parish holds the religious education classes for the collaborative in its building, the utilities, heat, insurance costs could be allocated to each parish.
If a shared program or service requires some minor improvements or upgrades to the space, then the costs of these changes could be shared among the Parishes and allocated (in the same way as the shared program costs are allocated). An example of a cost that could be shared is a youth room that is painted to improve its appeal, or removing/installing a new carpet for a program. Typically, the improvements are not structural, are reversible rather than permanent, may be cosmetic in nature (e.g., painting), and are triggered by a direct need of the shared program or service. These costs could be shared either equally, by a percentage, or based on an allocation method similar to that of program costs.
Capital Improvements that extend the life of the building, add value to the building, or are part of regular preventive maintenance will remain the responsibility of the parish that owns the building because it increases the value. Examples include roof replacements, new windows, boilers, and plumbing.
How are Offertories handled within a Collaborative?
Offertories, like other financial items, are to be kept separate for each parish in a collaborative. The most effective ways to do that include electronic giving and different color envelopes by parish.
Because parishioners within the collaborative may go to another parish within the collaborative for Mass the above methods of collecting offertory will ensure those collected amounts are properly recorded in the parish which is designated. All loose cash donations collected in the basket for offertory at Mass will be designated to that parish directly and not allocated to the other parishes in the collaborative.
Parishes within a collaborative may benefit greatly by sharing best practices with each other on how to safeguard the offertory collections from basket to the bank.
What does Disciples in Mission mean for parish properties? In other words, what happens with multiple rectories, convents, halls?
Disciple in Mission envisions that priests will again live in community in one location. In most collaboratives, this could mean that one rectory becomes the residential home for the priests of the collaborative while another rectory could be the collaborative office - place of business.
In the Property Management area of the Archdiocese, we are positioned to assist collaboratives in making the best-informed decision of where to have offices versus living space. In some collaboratives, it is more easily determined than others. We encourage collaboratives to form a Building Committee with members from each parish to work with us to determine which buildings are best used for certain purposes. For instance, if one rectory is handicap accessible while the other is not, the handicap accessible rectory may be best utilized as offices and meeting space.
We encourage collaboratives to consider having a presence at every parish; as mentioned, rectory living at one while office space is at another. Or if there is a school at one location, is there potential for parish hall or meeting space at another location? We encourage the collaboratives not to put all the parish life at one parish so that the other parish feels like a worship space and not a thriving parish.
If properties are not needed, what steps can a parish take to sell or lease?
In multi parish collaboratives, there is the potential for surplus property. We ask that careful thought be put in to the real estate assets of a parish before property is sold or leased for an extended period of time. There is a preference towards leasing as it provides a stable income while retaining ownership of the asset. Real estate is a limited commodity and very difficult to regain once it’s been sold.
Prior to selling or leasing a property for a term of more than 3 years, we are requiring that the Parishes of the Collaborative (no matter what Phase) :
- Have four substantial meetings with no fewer than five members from each parish
- Do a walk-through of all the buildings in the parishes of the collaborative
- Make an initial plan for how each building will be used
- Write a report of that, including the way in which that vision impacts the proposed sale, lease, or building project. The report should contemplate things such as: where will the priests live? Where will we have religious education? Will religious education be combined? Where will the offices be? Is there sufficient meeting space? Do we have room for growth and expansion? Do we have gathering space for the collaborative? Do we have room to expand our ministries?
Before a sale is contemplated, the collaborative needs to plan for their future and be certain they have everything they need, from a real estate/facilities perspective before it is alienated.
This same process is also followed for any construction or renovation project that is contemplated by a parish where the project makes an impact on the footprint of the building. For example, if a parish is converting a lower church from a church/chapel to religious education space or office space– is this for the good of the collaborative? Is it sufficient to support the collaborative?
In general, any changes to the real estate of a parish should be viewed through a long-term lens of how it will affect the future needs of the collaborative and not just the parish singly.
Phase I Numbers and Finances: How are things tracking financially in the collaboratives?
Phase I Offertory is stable with the prior year and this result is slightly better than non-collaborative parishes . Second Collections declined, -2% compared to non-collaborative parishes. Catholic Appeal pledges are up, year over year, and are ahead of non-Collaborative parishes (9% compared to 4%)
Phase II parishes are doing better than Phase I parishes did in their first year of collaboration. There is a slight decline in Offertory collections which is in line with non-collaborative parishes for the year, and is far below what was projected. Second Collections are up 1% compared to flat results for non-collaborative parishes. Catholic Appeal pledges are down for Phase II parishes, though they are up for non-collaborative parishes.
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