Box with Hazelbury
Box with Hazelbury in the Diocese of Bristol is a rural parish, seven miles east of Bath, comprising the village church of St Thomas à Becket, a small medieval wayside chapel, and a community church that meets every other Sunday, on a housing estate some distance from the parish church.
Charles Freeman – churchwarden and chair of the PCC Finance Committee – writes about their experience of implementing the Parish Giving Scheme.
Why did your church sign up to the Parish Giving Scheme?
Like many rural parishes, we are under considerable financial pressure. We introduced the Parish Giving Scheme in March 2019. Before taking the plunge, a “Stewardship and Generous Giving Working Party” had discussed and brain-stormed various ideas for about a year.
How did you personally get involved?
The PGS was on our radar as “something we ought to do” but the prospect of tackling the change from our Standing Order and envelope schemes seemed slightly daunting. It took a firm nudge from the Vicar for me to set the necessary steps in action!
What did you hope to achieve?
We had recently appointed a new Treasurer, so this gave a particular focus to our desire to reduce the administrative load and a good reason (or excuse) to try new methods.
What has been the impact of introducing the scheme at your church?
Within four months of implementation, the majority of donors who had been on the SO system had transferred to the PGS. Several parishioners kindly increased their giving, and about half of those in the PGS have agreed to inflationary increases.
In presenting the scheme, we emphasised that it would reduce the load on the parish financial team, but in practice the greatest benefit has been the increase in giving.
What were the key things you got right?
A key first step was to explain the system to the PCC, and then to persuade the members to enrol in it. In our case, this proved easier than at first I had feared! We then wrote to almost everyone who gave either by standing order or envelope, adapting the standard cover letter to suit our situation, and including an SAE along with the PGS gift form.
Was there anything you would do differently?
We should have grasped the nettle sooner!
What would you say to a church considering introducing the scheme?
The PGS is not going to solve all your problems, but it is not difficult to implement and can lead to a noticeable increase in giving. Go for it!