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If You Took a PPP Loan, It May Be Much Easier to Get It Forgiven
If You Took a PPP Loan, It May Be Much Easier to Get It Forgiven 1024 683 The Provisum Group

During the height of the Pandemic in 2020, the United States Small Business Administration offered forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Around 88,000 churches applied for these loans and received them. At The Provisum Group, we helped prepare the packets for all of our customer’s loan applications, and every one of them was approved and funded. There has been some recent guidance about the program from the SBA and we think that our good friends at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability have done a great job summarizing the development.

On July 28, 2021, the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) announced a new SBA PPP Direct Forgiveness Portal that will allow borrowers with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $150,000 or less through participating lenders to apply for forgiveness directly with the SBA, rather than going through their lender. According to the SBA, 93% of outstanding PPP loans are $150,000 or less.

The new application portal will launch on August 4, 2021, at https://directforgiveness.sba.gov. The SBA said that 600 banks have opted in to direct forgiveness, which will allow more than 2.17 million borrowers to apply through the portal.

The SBA also published a new on July 28. Of note to borrowers, the rule:

  • Allows lenders to use a COVID Revenue Reduction Score at the time of PPP loan forgiveness in lieu of actual documentation of revenue reduction to document the required revenue reduction for PPP Second Draw loans
  • Extends the loan deferment period for PPP loans “where the borrower timely files an appeal of a final SBA loan review decision with the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals”

If you are interested in learning more about the PPP and how The Provisum Groups assisted our clients apply for, AND get the loans forgiven, click here to start a conversation with us.

Could a second round of PPP money be for your ministry?
Could a second round of PPP money be for your ministry? 1024 678 The Provisum Group

If anything became clear during the global pandemic in 2020, it was that many churches were not on as solid of ground as many thought. Parishioners who attended once a month or less now had a reason to not attend. Donors suddenly were unemployed or under-employed and many simply stopped giving or reduced their gifts.

During the pandemic, several my clergy colleagues were forced to close their churches. Some of those churches could not survive the drop in revenue and never reopened. Then came the Paycheck Protection Program. My staff at The Provisum Group, reviewed the initial offering and discovered that, yes, the PPP was for churches too, and began applying for the relief program for all of our clients. It was a godsend and I know that for a few of our church partners, it was the only thing that helped them stay open in the initial months of the pandemic.

Now we are at a new chapter in the life of the church. A pandemic still rages on but our churches have reopened their doors. Not as many people have returned and most church services look different but the only thing that is consistent is that giving and attendance are down and budgets are tighter. While there are some churches out there who have done well, many pastors are trying to determine if they can keep some of their staff members or if they should cut programs and outreach.

In the great commission, Jesus didn’t say to “preach the gospel to all people except when budgets are tight.” He said it without exception, but Jesus promised that if you did so, He would be with you always. That is why I believe that this second round of PPP money could be seen as manna in the desert.

In this round of PPP, there are a few new rules that you must follow to apply but the forgivable nature of the loan remains unchanged. New with this round of the program is the requirement that an organization may get a second loan so long as:

  1. They are not a publicly-traded company
  2. They do not employ more than 300 people
  3. They experienced at least a 25% drop in revenue in at least one quarter in 2020

Almost every church meets requirements one and two but the third one is one where you need to examine your finances. If you qualify, the government not only will likely approve your loan but will make it easier to forgive. If you take less than $150,000 all you need to do is submit a one-page letter certifying the number of employees you kept employed and an estimate of how much of the money was spent on payroll.

While some churches are closing their doors, you could use this money to keep your staff employed and also use your existing funding from tithes and offerings to invest in programs to connect with your community and neighborhood. There are people hurting all around us who have lost loved ones or their jobs who don’t know where to turn, and the Church can be that place of refuge.

If you don’t know where to begin, please reach out to us by CLICKING HERE. Our team would be happy to talk with you and walk you through the general information about the program. I would encourage you to take this step and see what God can do with the money in your community.

So my lawyers can sleep at night I have to state the following: Neither the author or The Provisum Group are attorneys or financial advisors so the information above is not to be considered as legal or financial advice. The author encourages you to pray and seek legal or financial advice before entering in to any financial or banking relationship on behalf of your ministry.

If you take a housing allowance, you may owe a lot more money to IRS than you think.
If you take a housing allowance, you may owe a lot more money to IRS than you think. 1024 532 The Provisum Group

If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you are a pastor or a leader at a church that is led by a pastor. One thing that most pastors know is that, as a minister, you are authorized to take a tax-free housing allowance. Seems easy right? Unfortunately, the IRS requires that you follow an inflexible process. If you deviate from it, you may be under-reporting your income and owe thousands in taxes, fines, and penalties.

A few years ago, The Provisum Group took on a client running a ministry that was on fire for God. This church was growing weekly with new members and it was becoming more than the staff could handle. His church engaged us to help him manage the books and payroll for his rapidly growing church as the church’s growth had outpaced his volunteer bookkeeper’s ability.

We began onboarding the church and setting up their payroll. We noticed that the pastor was being treated on their payroll as an employee of the church. He was also receiving a housing allowance. Obviously, this is allowed, but the problem was that the church was paying the employer’s portion of his Social Security. If you do not see how this is a problem, you may want to pay close attention to this next part.

Social Security and Clergy Housing Allowance

Clergy can opt-out of Social Security within the first 24 months of ministerial employment. All the minister must do is submit an IRS form 4361. Whether you opt-out of Social Security or not, pastors who take a housing allowance are classified by the IRS as a self-employed individual. This means you must comply with the requirements of the Self-Employed Contributions Act. What does that mean?

If you are a pastor receiving a housing allowance and are planning on receiving Social Security (meaning you did not opt-out in the first 24 months of ministry) when you retire, you MUST pay both the individual AND employer portions of the FICA tax. There is no flexibility in this. If you are receiving a housing allowance and your church is paying the employer’s portion of your FICA tax, the ministry’s payment of the employer portion of FICA is legally income to you and you must report it as such and pay the taxes accordingly.

Unfortunately, for this pastor, he did not report the employer’s portion of his Social Security (paid by the church) as income. This means he had been unknowingly under-reporting his income to the IRS since he became pastor of that church. Our calculations showed he owed Tens of THOUSANDS of dollars in taxes, fines, and penalties for the past seven years. The only thing that he could do was self-report this to the IRS and pray for leniency. Fortunately, he received a friendly and understanding agent who worked with him to waive the fines and penalties. The agent also helped set up a very manageable repayment plan.  The pastor still had to pay the full amount in taxes on 7 years of the unreported income.

What do I do?

In 35 years of leading people and organizations, one thing I have learned is there is what you know and what you should know.  Clergy compensation regulations are something every pastor or ministry leader who takes a housing allowance should know.  This means some of you may need to swallow hard and review your tax filings. You may, unfortunately, be surprised by what you find.

If you need help with reviewing your forms or if you do not even know where to begin, give us a call at The Provisum Group. We can assist you with this process and can even help you with your books going forward. Click the link below to start the conversation.

Digital Evangelism: The Tipping Point
Digital Evangelism: The Tipping Point 1024 656 The Provisum Group

Shortly after World War I, a popular song captured an important question that is relevant again today, “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree?).”  The concern at that time was whether American soldiers from rural areas would come back home to work the farm after they’d experienced the city life and European culture of Paris.

Today, the concern church leaders have is how the Church will come out of this experience of quarantine and social isolation. Many wonder how the “new normal” will look and what does their local church need to do to adapt.

Prior to the coronavirus and the shutdown of gatherings, most churches were already experiencing decline. Everyone knows this. But one of the most impactful trends of this decline was not that fewer people were attending church, it was that regular attendees were attending less often and that trend was accelerating. As the church shifts from streaming an in-person worship service to producing an online worship experience, will people ever come back to in-person worship as often as they once did?

The time has come for communication and connection to become a primary function of the church. Gone are the days when you can relegate the task of connecting with the neighborhood and community around you as a secondary duty of a staff member or volunteer. We can no longer assign community connection duties to the worship leader because she is “really creative.” A youth leader with a blog is not a webmaster.

When state and local governments shut down large gatherings that included church services, churches were forced to take worship online. There was no other choice. In those first weeks, hundreds of churches called us at The Provisum Group asking how they could stream their services.

Hundreds of churches with tens of thousands of parishioners in communities that collectively represented millions of undiscipled people had no experience at all with online worship. Many churches already offered streaming or podcasts of their worship services. Whatever was the case prior to closing our buildings, it is safe to say that just about every church has now become more proficient at streaming online because of this season of social isolation. But is knowing how to stream a church service the answer we will need when churches reopen?

Regardless of the outcome, one thing is for sure, “church” in America will never be the same. The Bible commands us to “go” and make disciples of all people. There is no replacement for one-on-one evangelism in relationship nor will there ever be. But “going” is also done digitally. This season of social distancing is the tipping point for the church to become experts in digital evangelism.

“Going” into all the world is done personally but also digitally,
which means this season of social distancing is the
tipping point
for the church to become experts in digital evangelism.”

Nay-sayers will say, “All you need is to preach the pure Gospel of Jesus and the church will grow.” But ask yourself two questions:

  1. If all we have to do is preach the Gospel and God will grow the church, why did He command us to “go”?
  2. Do you hope that all the churches around your church become experts at connecting digitally with undiscipled people and your church does not?

At The Provisum Group, we work with churches all over the country helping them connect with the neighborhood and community around them. I have been serving the church for thirty years and I have learned that most churches do not perform these functions well, especially connecting with the neighborhood and community around them. To be put in charge of connection and communication in most churches, one does not need to know much on the subject at all. One just needs to know more than the other people in the room.

If you think I am off base here, consider the following. If you asked your children’s minister how he planned on teaching the Gospel to children, do you think he would be able to tell you off the top of his head? Do you think he could send you a lesson plan in a minute? He can do this because he knows what he is doing and has a plan. If you asked the person who cleans your floors how to run the floor buffer, do you think she could tell you off the top of her head? She probably can because she does it every week. If you asked the HVAC person “what is wrong with the furnace?” you would expect him to know. He is a professional and you paid him for that expertise.

Now, ask whoever is in charge of communicating and connecting with the community and neighborhood around you these questions:

  1. What is our connection strategy with the people who live around us? What are the steps? Can I see the support material? The production schedule? The budget?
  2. How many people visited our website last week? What is our bounce rate?
  3. What does SEO mean? What is our plan?
  4. Do we have an SSL License for our website? Why should I care?
  5. What is our conversion strategy for first-time visitors? How many did we have last week?
  6. What is the open rate for our emails? Unsubscribe rate? Spam rate? Bounce rate?

If you asked these questions, you should get an immediate answer. Why? Because these are questions first-year communication professionals could answer off the top of their heads. This is because (a) they are professionals, and (b) they work with this stuff every day. If the person you appoint over connection and communication at your church can answer these questions off the top of his head, you have the right person. If not, you don’t.

Finally, if you think you cannot afford a communication professional, consider this: If your church was located in Minnesota, had no money at all, nothing in the bank and no credit, and you needed a new furnace in January, would you find the money? Would you ask the congregation? A wealthy donor? All your church would need is a leader with the passion for the cause, the courage to ask, and faith in a good God.

The church is not going back to a pre-digital age. The front door of your church for undiscipled people is going to be your digital footprint, your website. Evangelism will have a budget and a demonstrative strategy produced and executed by professionals. We have to get good at digital evangelism and virtual church. Quit looking at communication as a bulletin and a sermon slide. See it for what it is: connection. The new “go.”

The Levee is Breached, and the Water is Rising
The Levee is Breached, and the Water is Rising 1024 682 The Provisum Group

Recently, I was talking with a pastor of a medium-sized church who, like every church in America, was struggling with low giving during the coronavirus pandemic. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep their local mission projects running, let alone pay the church’s mortgage and he didn’t know what to do.

I talked with him and our CFO and we were able to get his church’s mortgage deferred after working with his bank. Then we went over his line of accounts and I noticed that he had a very sizeable account that had not been touched in years and was simply accruing interest. He told me that a long time parishioner and local businessman had passed away and willed a portion of his estate to the church. I asked him what the fund was for and if there were any restrictions on the fund. He replied, “we can’t touch that, that is for a rainy day.”

I replied, “Pastor, this is a hurricane, the levee is breached and the water is rising. Your church needs to be a lifeboat for your community. I think now may be an appropriate time to use your rainy day fund.”

He agreed with me in principle but didn’t know where to start or what to do. My team began working with him and his board to take the steps necessary to access some of the funds and after a few weeks, we were able to keep his local mission project funded. His church worked with the local health board to make sure they complied with all of the county guidance and they continued to serve those in need during this time of crisis.

Unfortunately, there are a number of churches who are using the crisis to “batten down the hatches” and hope that there is a community to still serve when we come out of this. Not every church has a rainy day fund that they can access but every church has a community that is suffering. Take a look at the resources you do have.

Does your local foodbank still need volunteers? Does the county women’s shelter still need hygiene kits? Do laid-off workers still need help with meals or groceries?

Don’t “hunker down and ride this out.” Use your men’s group to put together bag lunches for the community. Have your women’s ministry collect, purchase, and assemble hygiene kits as their members go to the grocery. Have your youth group volunteer at the foodbank (if that is allowed in your state). Not all resources are monetary and not all problems can be solved by money.

Take a long hard look at your community around your church. What is their need? If you don’t know, don’t ask your members, ask your mayor or your county commissioners. Your congregation may not look like your neighborhood so asking may not yield a true reflection of the need.

Be bold in this time of crisis. It is time for the church to lead. The levee is breached and people need to be saved. Be the lifeboat that they need and use the resources available to you to make a pronounced impact for the Kingdom.

Staying Connected While Staying Apart
Staying Connected While Staying Apart 1024 683 The Provisum Group

It has been almost one whole month since my church and many of the churches that we serve here at the Provisum Group closed their doors and encouraged their parishioners to stay at home. While some churches have chosen to stay open, the vast majority of churches in the United States have decided to stay home. The Great Commission, however, doesn’t stop applying during times of crisis or pestilence. No, now is the time for the Church to be the Church and find new ways to stay connected while staying apart.

By our nature of serving churches all around the country, we are privileged to witness a lot of innovation and, unfortunately, a lot of cloistering as well. Some churches are paralyzed with not knowing what to do. I’ve written previously about how Facebook live and other streaming platforms have helped pastors continue holding their Sunday services online. I’ve also written about how online, recurring giving can help stem the tide of lost offerings. All of these are important to help churches perform the basic functions of being a church but what I have been most impressed with is some of the things churches have done to connect with their community. Here are some of my favorites that you could implement in your church:

  1. Children’s ministers and Sunday school teachers are writing letters to all of their children sharing with them silly stories and parables
  2. Men’s ministries are still holding their monthly cookouts online with each man grilling their own burgers and holding a contest for the most garish Hawaiian shirt
  3. Pastors have spent their funds that would have been spent on their church’s (deferred) mortgages and helped laid off people in their community
  4. Parishioners have organized discounts with restaurants for takeout so they can still have their Wednesday night meal and bible study online
  5. A few attorneys in one church put together free, online legal clinics to help renters in the community negotiate rent forgiveness with their landlords

These ministries have not forgotten the mission of the Church and have taken on the mantel of being a beacon of hope in their community in this difficult time. If you are not proactively reaching out to the neighborhood, how will they know who they can turn to in this difficult time? What is your church doing to reach your county, town or city? If you can’t think of anything you are currently doing, get your leadership team together and figure out one thing you can do while complying with your state’s public health orders.

Still need help figuring out where you can serve? Contact us at The Provisum Group. We work with churches all over the United States to help them reach their community and fulfill the Great Commission. The call is free and our team can help you realize and execute your church’s mission.

CARES ACT Update
CARES ACT Update 1024 637 The Provisum Group

I have spent the morning on the phone with bankers and faith-based accounting professionals.  What I can tell you now is no one is sure how to apply for the Payroll Protection Program provision of the CARES Act approved last Friday.  Our law requires that the government print the regulations and procedures within 15 days of a bill becoming law.  I have an appointment with our bank tomorrow at 3:00pm.  I should know more then.  Either way, I will give you an update after the meeting.

The Provisum Group is an accredited member of the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).  The ECFA is the premier Christian financial accrediting association. They provide the Provisum Group with guidance as well as accountability.  They produced a FAQ form that in my opinion is the best I have seen on how the CARES act will impact churches and faith-based charities.  They gave us permission to share that document with you.  Click below to read it.

I want you to know, that other than my family, making sure your ministry receives these funds (should you choose to) is my only priority.  Once a process is established by the US government, The Provisum Group will move forward quickly to complete the process.  In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, please call me.

   READ THE FAQ HERE   

Corona Virus: How Your Church can Thrive in These Troubled Times.
Corona Virus: How Your Church can Thrive in These Troubled Times. 800 600 The Provisum Group

We are living in unprecedented times. Many local leaders have asked the church to temporarily close her doors for the good of the population. Only in a pandemic could not gathering to worship God be considered “the right thing to do.” While we are all concerned, I think it is safe to say most people believe this viral outbreak will end one day.

But how does the church survive until then? There are 5 things your church can do right now to thrive in these troubled times. Most of us spent this past weekend in a virtual church service. Many scrambled to create some sort of video streaming mechanism. This past Monday, many churches woke up to a new reality of locked doors and diminished giving.

In Genesis 26 we read of a famine in Israel. Many people were heading south to Egypt where conditions were less severe. But God said to Isaac, “Do not go down to Egypt. Abide where I tell you. There I will be with you and I will bless you.” Isaac obeyed God.  In the middle of a drought, Isaac took God at His word and planted crops and dug wells. Isaac stepped out in faith and without fear he chose to live like there was no drought and let everyone see him do it.

That, my friends, is what the church needs to do right now. We need to have faith.

We need to live like we are not afraid and we need to let the world see us do it.

Here is how we can do that:

  1. Reach Out– Encourage your congregation to reach out to friends and family to “join us” for a livestream (Website and Facebook Live) “service of hope”.
  2. Hope– Offer a daily devotional (texting) and encourage your congregation to send it to everyone they know.
  3. Teach– Offer lessons (Podcast would be perfect) like Genesis 26 that show how a good God blesses His people in times of peril.
  4. Inspire– Be the best church your church can be. Lead your community in service to others and let the world see you do it.
  5. Thrive– Isaac sowed in a drought and he was blessed for it. Encourage your congregation to do the same thing.  Now is a great time to advocate for online and auto giving.  There is a universe of online and text-to-give solutions.

I know that some of the technical obstacles mentioned above could seem prohibitive for some churches. But at The Provisum Group, we want to Reach Out to you and offer you Hope. We would love to discuss (Teach) with you how your church can remove these technical obstacles, inspire you to be the church your community needs right now, so you and your congregation can thrive in this challenging time.

In the middle of a drought, Isaac sowed in faith and was blessed for it.

Choose blessed.

Church Payroll Services
Is your Church Prepared for New Department of Labor Requirements for Overtime Pay?
Is your Church Prepared for New Department of Labor Requirements for Overtime Pay? 1024 683 The Provisum Group

At The Provisum Group, we perform payroll services for churches and faith-based charities all over the country. It is our sacred responsibility to ensure that all of our clients (as well as their employees) are compliant with all federal, state and local tax and compensation regulations.  One of the areas of employment law we see churches routinely (and unknowingly) violate are the rules regulating salaried employee’s exemption from overtime.  The United States Department of Labor is scheduled to significantly change these rules in January 2020.  If your ministry misses this change, there could be serious financial consequences for your ministry and your salaried employees.  Read on to learn more.

The Department of Labor (DOL) continues to move forward with plans for a major increase to the salary threshold for exempt employees. When finalized, the proposed rule will extend overtime protections to more than one million workers who are not currently eligible under federal law.

Over 116,000 comments have been received by the DOL on the proposed rule. Comments ran the gamut from urging the gradual phasing in of the new threshold to criticizing the DOL for not staying with the higher threshold initially proposed by the Obama administration.

Unless a change is made by the DOL, the new minimum amount a worker must earn to qualify as exempt from overtime pay will be $679 per week or $35,308 per year.

Unless exempt, employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act must receive at least time and one-half their regular pay rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

Meeting the salary threshold doesn’t automatically make an employee exempt from overtime pay; the employee’s job duties also must primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties as defined by the regulations.

The new overtime rule is expected to take effect in January 2020. Clearly it is a good idea to start getting ahead of this issue and planning for changes in 2020. However, before making any changes employers will need to wait and see what the final threshold will be.

Be alert to state laws. Several states have overtime thresholds that exceed the proposed federal threshold. So, it will be important to be compliant with both the state and federal regulations.

(Quoted text taken from the ECFA)

If you need help with your payroll and setting up systems to help you prepare for this drastic change to US DOL rules, connect with us HERE.

Effective Church Communication
Six Simple Keys to better Church Communication Content.
Six Simple Keys to better Church Communication Content. 1024 561 The Provisum Group

At The Provisum Group, we provide virtual staffing solutions for churches and faith-based charities. We primarily provide services in the area of accounting, marketing, communication, information services, and customer relationship management. One of the toughest challenges we face every day is content acquisition and development for marketing to and communication with congregations. Essentially, we need our clients to give us some sort of idea as to things like:

  1. What is the sermon series?
  2. What do you want in the bulletin?
  3. What events are being planned?
  4. What ministry is happening?
  5. How are lives being changed?

Someone has to make those decisions at the client level. And, the decision has to be made soon enough for content to be developed and distributed. You can’t finish the bulletin articles at 10:00 p.m. Saturday evening and expect the bulletin to be typeset, proofed, edited, and printed by 8:00 a.m. in time for Sunday service.

I am going to give you six tips for content development.

Functional is better than cool! I cannot tell you how much time and money I have seen wasted by church staff and leadership over things like colors, fonts, images and graphics. Don’t get me wrong. Creativity is important. There is a reason creativity is so expensive. As a left-brained, task-oriented person, I truly appreciate the creative gift. But a B+ creative piece executed well and delivered on time in most cases will produce a much greater return on investment than an A+ creative piece executed poorly and delivered late.

In a church growth class I conduct, I illustrate this point by showing the audience of pastors and church workers three different posters advertising food truck festivals (you can watch it at ). I ask the group to identify which poster they like best and tell us why. Soon people are advocating (sometimes vigorously) for one poster over the other. Sometimes the debate could go on for an hour if I let it. Then I ask a second question. I tell the group that one of the posters (I don’t say which one) will cost $65. One will cost $250. And one will cost $1,200.  “Which one do you want now?” I ask. Always the same response. Silence. Then someone whispers, “The $65 poster.” Never fails.

Copy Writing In copy writing, less is more. One of the first things I tell my copy writers is “Nobody reads anymore.” Now we all know that is not entirely true, but what is true is that video is replacing copy. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth ten thousand words. We have one client for whom we have to shrink the font and decrease the margins on paper for almost every letter their pastor writes. If you have to shrink the font and shrink the margins to get all the words on the paper, you have too many words. A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot say it in writing in less than 150 words, record a video.

Diversity Matters Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. has been called the most segregated hour in the United States. The truth is that when people look at your communications, your church, your website on social media, they are looking to see people who look like them. Young, old, single, children, black, white, brown, yellow, men and women, and so on: Make sure you represent as much diversity as you possibly can in all your communications.

Frequency It is far better to tell someone one thing five times than five things one time. Unfortunately, to make this happen, someone is going to be disappointed. The knitting circle and the book club may have to sacrifice one of their communication spots for the parent’s day out and the community meal.

Pay for Experience Whenever possible, hire or engage skilled professionals to create your content and produce it. In my new book Connect, I talk about how connection is the tip of the spear of disciple-making and disciple-making is the reason we are here. However, so much of church and ministry communications in the church today are being produced and managed by people who know very little about the science. A worship leader who owns an Apple computer becomes the graphic designer. A youth pastor who made a blog becomes the webmaster. Having created a blog does not make a person a webmaster any more than owning a wrench makes someone a plumber. However, the same church that will hire and engage a licensed plumber to fix the leaking water heater will engage just about anyone willing to do the job for little or no pay when it comes to creating and producing communication. Don’t relegate one of the most important mission-critical processes the church has to inexperienced amateurs and novices.

Understand the Process Creativity is a process, and so is production, and process takes time. People need time to execute vision. Content is a byproduct of the marriage between creativity and production. In the process of creating content there is a back-off schedule. To create a back-off schedule, you start with the date of the event or service you want to tell people about. Then you back up (on the calendar) the day(s) you want people informed about the event or service in question (called “the drop date”). If a piece is going to be mailed, you have to back up about ten days for the U.S. mail. Then you have to back off again the time for the printer to print, the graphic artist to create, the writer to write, the creative team to come up with the concept, and so on. Between each of these efforts you have to allow for time to make edits. All in all, a simple letter can take four to six weeks to properly develop and execute.

Honor the production schedule and expect people to do what they say they will do and be on time. Not only will your results improve but so will your production capacity.

DO THIS NOW!

Sit down with someone who creates content for your ministry and review some communication content. Review how the content encourages people to come, connect, and grow. Ask the person who produced the content: “How does this content convey our brand story?”