The following list of ideas is specifically directed to financial leaders across the church to help with sustaining the church and its ministry (and perhaps growing it in areas) as we live through these Coronavirus (Covid-19) days.
Please be sure to check back, these resources will be updated frequently.
In response to the Coronavirus - the following resources are available for local churches as well as small businesses.
Before a local church applies for any of these programs please consult with your District Superintendent.
For more information you may also reach out to our Conference Treasurer, Jamion Wolford.
A letter to Benefits Assistance plan participants regarding Coronavirus and your insurance benefits.
CARES Act Updates—PPP Loan Forgiveness Updates and Additional Transparency
Loan Forgiveness Regulations and Documents Updated for PPP Flexibility Act
On June 16, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of Treasury (Treasury) published revised and additional regulations and guidance about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The SBA published a revised PPP Loan Forgiveness Form and Instructions(dated as of June 16, 2020), a new "EZ" PPP Loan Forgiveness Form and Instructions (a simpler form for certain borrowers), and an interim final rule that revises part of the Loan Forgiveness Rule and the Loan Review Rule from June 1, 2020 based on the new terms of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA), which became law on June 5, 2020. You can read more about the PPPFA here.
Wespath is working with the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) to revise and update our PPP loan forgiveness guides and FAQs for UMC borrowers. Updated materials should be available soon.
New PPP Transparency Announced
On June 19, 2020, SBA and Treasury announced in a press release an agreement with bipartisan leaders of the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee to publish additional information regarding PPP loans and borrowers. The SBA will disclose information about a borrower such as the business name, address, NAICS (business classification) code, ZIP code, business type, demographic data, non-profit information, jobs supported, and one of the following loan amount ranges:
- $150,000 – 350,000
- $350,000 – 1 million
- $1 – 2 million
- $2 – 5 million
- $5 – 10 million
According to the SBA, these loan amount categories account for nearly 75% of PPP loans. In addition, the SBA will release aggregate information about PPP loans below $150,000, e.g., total loan amounts will be released, aggregated by zip code, by industry, by business type, and by various demographic categories. It does not appear that SBA will publish business names of individual borrowers with loans of less than $150,000.
As a result, some UMC borrowers are likely to have their organization name, PPP loan amount range, and certain other organizational data published by the SBA.
Jamion Wolford, Conference Treasurer for the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church guides a conversation surrounding church finance during the Coronavirus.
Recorded on Friday, March 20th.
Do look into digital giving
If you have already set up for people to give electronically to your church, you have a head start in weathering whatever the COVID-19 storm brings. If you haven’t found a vendor and signed on, there is no time better than today. Start by talking to your bank, talk to other churches about their experience, and if you have further questions contact your Conference Treasurer’s office.
If you’re not ready to make a commitment to embrace online giving options, consider setting up something to get you through this difficult time – PayPal, just one example, will offer charitable organizations an online donation service with a low fee of 2.2 percent and .30 per transaction. Some of your members may already have PayPal accounts.
Do not allow an individual to collect donations to the church through a personal account; the church must establish its own account Paypal, Venmo or other online account with the same level of checks and balances as all other cash handling.
The links below provide a more detailed discussion of digital giving and the steps to implement it.
Encourage members to look into Billpay
Ask your members to see if their bank offers a “BillPay” option. They can set up the church as a regular payment they make, and the bank generates an electronic check and sends it via USPS (United States Postal Service). Most banks don’t charge for this, and it even covers the postage!
If a member has a specific designation in their offering, remind them to include that information in the memo/note section when completing the online bill payment, and encourage them to follow up with the church treasurer to ensure the designation was conveyed on the electronic check.
Keep members informed and involved
Unless you convey the alternative methods of participating with and giving to their church, members will not know about these opportunities. For your new or alternative ways of worship and giving to be effective, they must be shared, encouraged, and supported.
Review your traditional channels of communication and be open to new paths of connecting with additional members.
Be conscious of the income impact on members
For some of your members, the present Coronavirus crisis will not affect their incomes. Some will be offered the opportunity to work at home, which may be a savings opportunity.
However, not everyone will be in that situation. Some will see their income seriously affected by the social distancing that is attempting to slow the spread of the disease. Things like traveling, going out to dinner, cutbacks in entertainment, reduced hours, or overtime all carry potential hardships for people who were already just getting by.
Remember, just like worship, serving, reading the Bible, and many other elements, financial giving is a spiritual discipline. We need to continue to provide options for people to continue to grow as disciples in all areas of spiritual disciplines.
Please make sure your church is conveying this sensitivity in all its communications.
Please continue to review the Conference Website for updates and reach out to the Conference Treasurer’s Office for guidance and support.
More than anything remember that God is with us.
Sunday gatherings may become a problem - have a plan C.
We hope that your church leaders have already discussed and put in place some steps to minimize the exposure of Sunday attendees to a highly contagious virus.
However, if your plans have not included what you will do if you are not able to open your doors for worship on Sundays, you haven’t planned far enough.
Being prepared to have a worship experience via video streaming or Facebook Live (make sure you have proper licensing permissions), or through video or audio-conferencing technology to keep your congregation connected is essential.
The Conference website provides guidance and ideas for implementing these avenues of worship at the following page: https://www.wvumc.org/planning-and-preparedness-for-public-health-concerns/.