Let me give you four steps to prepare for the summer drain in finances. For many churches, perhaps even yours, there is a lull in giving during the summer. The drill runs something like this. People go on vacation. Less people are in church. People on vacation have expenses that need to be paid when they return home. People on vacation tend to give less to their church.

We can say, “It shouldn’t be so!” But, it happens. We can say, “People should use electronic giving.” But, until everyone does, there will be dips in summertime giving.

Here are four steps you can take to help:

1. Keep records of your giving on a week-by-week basis.

Track the giving in weeks 23-35 (early June to mid-August). Compare this giving to weeks 1-20. Use week numbers instead of dates. It is easier to compare 2010 to 2011 to 2012 with week numbers.

2. Based on your data, honestly tell your story.

Let the board know that each summer for the last 3 years, from weeks 23-35, your giving has been off by 22.5%. In appropriate ways, let the congregation know. While thanking them for their gracious giving, let them know that in the summer months, giving is off 22.5%. And, let them know that expenses continue with summer power bills, curriculum bills for the fall and regular employee salaries and benefits.

3. Keep a healthy reserve.

My friends at ECCU suggest that you keep 18% of your annual budget in reserves. Use this as a float over the summer. Our church has about 27% in reserves, but we have an older building that has lots of capital needs. So, adjust ECCU’s formula to fit your congregational needs.

4. Budget your cash flow.

While it sounds simple, this one is easy to forget. It is akin to the old adage of “remembering to drain the swamp in the spring, when it is full of alligators.” You should have drained the swamp in winter when there weren’t any alligators! Plan for your mid-summer financial slump. Buy those expensive items early in the year, when you have the cash flow to allow for it. Defer expensive purchases away from mid-summer.