If you volunteer for -- or contribute in any way -- for a nonprofit group, sooner or later finances are going to come up. And in today's uneasy financial climate, money questions for that group's staff or programs are going to hit sore spots.
Case in point: a quilt group I strongly believe in, and have given not only money, but many hours of my time. They were forced to let their director go -- because they couldn't afford to pay her anymore. What is the board going to do, now that the leader is gone? Will the other (part-time) staffers have to begin doing her job, as well as their current commitments? Will the quilt group begin some new fund-raising campaign (which will cost extra on its own) to try and get more $$ from its members-- many who are facing money problems of their own?
Another case in point: a church Husband and I have given decades of our time, money and commitment to. We had the annual budget meeting today -- and current income shows nearly $2000 in the red. Every single month. The only thing that saved the church from problems last year was a deliberate cutting of expenses every way possible from what was budgeted in 2009.
The people on staff are tireless, talented individuals who have been wonderful -- they work very hard at what they do. I know that our pastors -- both of them -- are not spendthrifts. Each lives very close to the bone. Yet compared to the national average, both are more than holding their own in salary and benefits. Both also earn considerably more than many of the people who attend our church -- people who have had to endure more than their share of salary cuts and layoffs in the past year.
It's not cheap to live in Colorado, especially the Denver area. Housing, especially. I can't say our minister friends don't earn their salaries -- they do. Yet how will the church continue to pay those salaries...as well as the rest of the budget...if giving continues to tank? Last year's budget added two staffers who were only paid for part of the year. This year's budget doesn't give them a raise -- but they get 12 months salary this year. Where is that money going to come from?
I knew one phrase would come up at this afternoon's church budget meeting, and it did: "The Lord will provide." Certainly He has in the past. I know that God not only is aware, but cares about our actions and needs, past and present and future. But I also believe that He has given us common sense, as well as faith. Going through the church's savings is not going to honor Him. On the other hand, worrying about this -- or frantically cutting badly-needed programs or staff -- isn't trusting Him, either.
What's the right answer? I honestly don't know.