Maghull St Andrew
Maghull St Andrew, in the Diocese of Liverpool, is one of four churches in the Maghull and Melling benefice. The church building is Grade II listed and dates from 1880. Within its grounds is the Grade II* listed Ancient Maghull Chapel, the oldest worshipping church on Merseyside.
Geoff Walker enthuses about their experience of implementing the Parish Giving Scheme below:
Why did St Andrew’s sign up to the PGS?
As Gift Aid & Planned Giving Secretary, I attended a couple of meetings about the PGS in 2013/14, along with other parish finance representatives across Liverpool Diocese. As a church, we had already concluded that we were facing financial challenges, with an increase in planned giving needed by everyone in order to meet our obligations. This could only be achieved by finding new ways to support and fund our Mission & Ministry. The Parish Giving Scheme seemed to provide an immediate answer to our concerns.
St Andrew’s was then invited to consider joining the Parish Giving Scheme as one of 15 ‘pilot’ churches for the Diocese. Following my presentations to both the Finance Committee and the PCC, it was unanimously agreed that we should implement PGS, with the PCC taking the lead.
What, in your view, were the main benefits of the Scheme?
- Regular monthly gifts, credited in one lump sum on a fixed working date (10th) each month to the church nominated bank account, followed in the same month by a payment of Gift Aid tax. (Note: the Gift Aid Declaration is with PGS, but separate Gift Aid Declarations direct with the church still remain, where valid, for other giving e.g. on one-off Gift Aided donations)
- Regular monthly statements are available online, coinciding with the fixed working date of payment
- Regular, stable income contributes to improving cash flow
- Reduction in the treasurer’s, and cash/banking administration, less work for the Weekly Envelope recorder, and Gift Aid secretary, and an increase in personal security because of handling less cash, assurance of regular giving, and confidence in the Scheme not only for the church but for everyone participating
- Option of automatic annual inflation increase in giving
- The ease and helpfulness in contacting PGS (or both Church and Giver) via phone, email, letter, on any matter and/or variation to your gift, aided by the direct communication by PGS to the Giver e.g. confirmations, “Thank you” letters, and reminders of the annual inflationary increase.
- The Direct Debit guarantee ensures that giving is secure & safe
What did you hope to achieve?
We hoped to benefit from all the points listed above, as well as:
- A marked reduction in the number of Weekly Envelopes & Standing Orders
- To make PGS the preferred choice of giving
How did you go about launching the Scheme in your church?
Once our application to join PGS was approved, we (with assistance from Diocesan staff) put together Information Packs to send to all our existing planned givers, including a joint letter from the Rector and the PCC. We also sent packs to those who weren’t on the Electoral Roll, but had a recent connection with the church.
The launch took place on 1st March 2015 at all our Sunday Services and also at midweek Holy Communion, with joint presentations from the Rector, Treasurer, a member of the Finance Committee and myself and a talk from a member of the Diocesan Resources Team.
Information Packs were handed personally to those in attendance, and any remaining packs were hand-delivered or posted via Royal Mail. We included a self-addressed envelope, along with a reply slip indicating whether the recipient would like to join the Scheme. For those that expressed interest, a PGS Gift Form was duly forwarded to them.
We received our first donations through PGS in May 2015. By summer 2015, 60% of our regular givers had joined the Scheme.
What has been the impact of introducing PGS in your church?
- Regular monthly giving, with corresponding monthly payment of Gift Aid tax reclaimed from HMRC
- Less time spent on church admin re banking practices, as well as less cash to bank
- Reduction in time spent preparing Gift Aid claims on other forms of giving
- Majority of givers have opted in to annual inflationary increase in giving
- Reliability and confidence in a professionally-managed service to donors
Another benefit of the Scheme we had never even considered was how much easier it made the job of having to change banks. When our local bank closed, we only had to write to a handful of givers still on Standing Order, advising them of the change and asking them to consider transferring their giving to PGS.
Lastly, given the challenges faced by churches as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think that, if we had not registered with PGS, the reduction in income from donations and Gift Aid via weekly envelope giving would have meant being unable to pay Parish Share and other costs, without going into reserves.
What were the key things you got right?
- Opting for PGS!!
- Initial promotion and organised, personal approach to potential donors
- Maintaining continuous awareness of the Scheme
What challenges did you face?
Several longer-standing members of the church family were reluctant to change from giving via weekly envelope; likewise, a handful remain on Standing Order.
However, as of May 2020, two-thirds of our regular givers have signed up to PGS and we have written again to everyone still on weekly envelopes, asking them to prayerfully consider switching to Direct Debit.
What changes might improve the Scheme?
None that I can think of.
I had been concerned about administration of Giver Registration under the pandemic restrictions; however, thanks to the telephone giving service launched in April 2020, this is now available through a simple & short phone call of about 10 minutes to PGS. Thank you for making this possible and so straightforward.
What would you say to a church considering introducing the Scheme?
- PLEASE, JUST DO IT!
- Use all the PGS publicity material available to emphasise the benefits of the Scheme to as many people as you can
- No fees, and no cost to either the church or the donor. The church receives 100% of all giving and all Gift Aid tax refunds.
- There is nothing to lose, but everything to gain, and more!
- Maintain constant publicity about the Scheme. It’s very important to keep encouraging those not on the PGS and new members to the church to sign up.
- And, above all, liaise with your Diocesan PGS representative, who provide you with advice and encouragement.