Construction financing, revisited

A true ministry banker understands that business administrators at religious institutions might only undertake a major commercial construction project once or twice in their careers.

A lender with specialized expertise in financing religious institutions will not expect you to intimately understand or fully anticipate the commercial construction and related borrowing processes. Rather, a lender with a depth of experience banking this segment can provide consultation and guide you through the process.

Nevertheless, the ministry will be best served when adequately prepared about what to expect.

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Church accounting basics: transparency & accountability

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How to lay the foundation for true church CHURCH ACCTNGaccounting stewardship

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Year-end tax & portfolio planning for pastors

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November and December are a busy time of year for most pastors. Following the Thanksgiving holiday, the liturgical calendar begins anew with the season of Advent. As preparations are made to celebrate the coming of the Christ child, extra services need to be planned, multiple sermons need to be written, rehearsals are in full swing for the Christmas pageant, and pastors are also ministering to those for whom the holidays are not such a joyous time.

Amidst all these preparations, pastors need to set aside some time to focus on year-end financial details that have tax implications for 2015 and 2016. Don’t let the following items slip past you.

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CAPITAL PLANS 101: What they are. Why you need one.

“We’re an old church; we just replace things when they break.”

This is the common response when I ask church leaders throughout the nation about their long-term capital planning strategy. While this statement might be true for many worship facilities, for many years, that doesn’t mean it’s the wisest form of stewardship for a church’s physical assets.

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Church accounting basics: EMPLOYEE — to be or not to be

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If your church is anything like mine, you are constantly trying to navigate the requirements of our nation’s employment laws. When researching the topic of “employee versus independent contractor,” what I find is consistently inconsistent. It’s easy to get lost in the lack of interpretation.

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What are banks looking for?

Long-term interest rates appear to have bottomed out and are projected to increase by year-end. So, now is the time to consider borrowing funds to undertake important building initiatives or refinancing existing debt.

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Finance & lending trends: time to expand to new location(s)?

As unemployment has declined and consumer confidence has grown, it appears that the post-meltdown reluctance to solicit donors for capital pledges for religious institution expansion is abating.

This is giving way to pent-up demand for worship space.

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Best practices: insurance review and planning

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The loan underwriting process is centered on determining the level of risk associated with each ministry. As a part of that risk management process, we inquire about the amount of debt, cash reserves, as well as the limits and type of insurance coverage the ministry maintains.

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Does it make sense to refinance right now? (Even though you might be facing a prepayment penalty)

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If you haven’t already heard while listening to the evening news, the 15-year historic graphs indicate that while interest rates are still relatively low, they might have bottomed and be on their way up. While many think rates are likely to increase in the future, no one knows how much they will rise or when. Now might prove to be a good time to refinance existing debt and secure a long-term fixed rate if possible.

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Planning for retirement: it’s your choice

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“Do I buy a car or lease one?” “Do I work to pay for my education — or my children’s — or do I take out a loan?” “Do I rent an apartment or buy a house?” For each of these questions, making the right decision depends on a number of factors that are unique to you. But one financial question leaves us with very few choices: “Do I save for retirement?”

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