Everyone in the Planned Giving Scheme has recently had their gift acknowledged via a personalised letter (see below). The scheme generates about two thirds of our income and is the financial lifeblood of our Church community. Unfortunately for the past six years or so, Planned Giving income has not covered our major outgoing (the Parish Share), which was £96,634 in 2011, and this is highlighted in the letter. In 1988 our Parish Share was £18,838 and Planned Giving income, including tax recovered was £29,016. When you consider that our total expenditure in 1988 was £43,391 you can see that the ‘excess income’ generated by Planned Giving went a long way towards paying our other bills!

Sadly, all major efforts by Finance Committee to increase Planned Giving membership over the past seven years have failed. Numbers have reduced, but thanks to existing members increasing their gifts over this period, and to a steady influx of new members, the total raised has remained roughly constant. Our Diocesan Share has now reduced (to reflect our decreasing membership), to the extent that our Planned Giving does now cover the payment, while also providing a small ‘excess income’ towards our other items of expenditure. But be sure, the ‘heady’ days of 25 years ago have not returned!

On the positive side, there are still members of our congregation who have not joined the Planned Giving Scheme. It is to our credit that visitors to St. Matthew’s must leave with the impression that we are financially very secure. The letter below refers to the recently introduced ‘Purple Pledge Cards’ that are available on each pew. These cards provide the simplest way for people to take the first step towards joining the Planned Giving Scheme. If you are reading this and have yet to take that first step, please do fill out a Pledge Card and drop it onto the collection plate. Thank you.

The letter:

Dear Member

We must begin by thanking you for your continued financial support through your gifts to St. Matthew’s via the Planned Giving Scheme. This letter is being sent to all current members of the scheme who were donating at the end of June 2012. We give thanks for all the 150 households represented by members of the Planned Giving Scheme, who contribute to an annual total of £74,726. This total is further enhanced by an estimated £17,000 of tax reclaimed under the Gift Aid scheme. It is important to emphasise again that this Gift Aid tax rebate could not be claimed without the audit trail provided by Planned Giving.

Your personal gift is acknowledged below. Please note that our record of your weekly gift can never be precise, especially if you donate via envelopes. The figures will enable you however, to compare your gift with the average of £9.58 per week.

For several years now, St. Matthew’s has not managed to pay its' Diocesan Parish Share in full, and this is reflected in the fact that our current Parish Share debt is £45,454. The Finance Committee and PCC work hard to turn this around, but there is little room for manoeuvre:

1 The Stewardship Campaign of Autumn 2011 resulted in 11 new members and 31 existing members increasing their gifts, equivalent to an extra £5500 pa before tax recovery. Unfortunately however, this extra giving was only sufficient to offset the income losses due to people leaving the scheme.
2 We are keeping a very close watch on our expenditure. But there is a limited amount of slack in this area as we have never been extravagant!
3 People are working hard to maximize the rental income from the Meeting Room and Stainbeck Hall.

You will now be aware of the purple ‘Planned Giving Tokens’ that are available for those members of the Planned Giving Scheme (mainly those 96 members giving via bankers standing order) to place on the offertory plate as a tangible witness to their financial support for St. Matthew’s. You should also notice on every pew a purple pledge card. If anyone asks you what the purple tokens are for please take time out to explain about our Planned Giving Scheme and encourage them to take the first step to joining, by placing a completed pledge card on the offertory plate.

It is very satisfying to see so many new faces in Church, especially at our Family Services. Please pray that these families, perhaps with your encouragement, will feel able to take that first important step towards joining our Planned Giving Scheme, and thence enjoy knowing that they are helping to maintain St. Matthew’s and all its good works in this parish week in week out.

Martin Smith
Planned Giving and Gift Aid Recorder.