From the Vicarage - February 2018

Giving for life

At the meeting of the Parochial Church Council on 9th January, we unanimously took the decision to sign up as a parish to the Parish Giving Scheme. This is a new way of administering our regular monetary giving that not only helps us as a parish to forecast what our annual income from planned regular giving is likely to be, and to plan and budget accordingly, but offers really significant benefits in terms of lifting the administrative burden of collecting, recording and banking income and in receiving the gift aid from HMRC promptly every month.

Here’s how it works. This is the overview taken from the Parish Giving Scheme website:

‘The Parish Giving Scheme (PGS) is a direct-debit system developed by the Diocese of Gloucester to provide a professional, effective donation management system to support parishes fund their mission and ministry.  It reduces the burden of work on parish volunteers and provides a professional service to our donors.  It enables:

  • The donor to sign up to inflationary giving, overcoming the static nature of cash and standing order gifts.
  • The parish to improve cash-flow by receiving the gift by the tenth of the month. The Gift AId will be sent separately once PGS has received it from HMRC.

 It does all this at a lower cost than envelope schemes.’

However frequently you wish you make your donations to the work of this church – it can be monthly, quarterly or annually – you set up a direct debit from your bank account to PGS that is transferred on the first day of the month. PGS processes the payment and if you have signed up for gift aid, administers the gift aid on your gift. Your original gift reaches our bank account by the tenth of the month, followed a few days later by the gift aid. You can also elect to review your giving annually. If you do this, you’ll receive an annual invitation to increase your gift by the rate of inflation, and you can then decide if you want to do this or not. Donors have complete control over the amount they give, and gifts can be increased or reduced according to your own financial situation. We will receive a monthly statement of the gifts and the gift aid. This will only be seen by the designated stewardship officers, as is the case now, and if you wish, you can elect to remain anonymous.

The background to all this is that the Parish Giving Scheme was pioneered by the Diocese of Gloucester, found to be a great success and has now been rolled out to be made available to all the dioceses of the Church of England. Our own Diocese of Ely is signed up to the scheme, and pays all the administration costs, so there is no cost to us as a parish. We are in the process of signing up as a parish, through Ely and starting with members of the PCC, I and a number of us will be signing up personally straight away. I want to encourage everyone to think about joining this scheme.

Some may have worries about the security of direct debits and a centrally administered scheme. We are assured that PGS has been set up with full professional financial regulation and oversight, and uses the most up to date electronic and security protection software. If you pay any kind of bills regularly by direct debit, this will be absolutely no different, and just as secure.

Here’s a summary of the benefits to the parish, set out on the PGS website:

  • The scheme is delivered locally (parish), but administered centrally reducing the administrative burden on parishes.
     
  • All parishes whose Diocese have signed up to the scheme can participate, and it suits regular and fringe donors. The degree of impact is linked with the quality of local execution, and being launched alongside a giving review.
     
  • Regularly increasing giving through the majority of donors opting for index-linking.
     
  • Anonymity for donors, if required.
     
  • Direct Debit offers greater flexibility with regards to managing giving; increases and decreases can be made easily.
     
  • Increased cash flow through faster recovery of Gift Aid, enabling more regular payments of parish share.
     
  • Central system ensuring that Gift Aid is processed accurately.
     
  • Professional, tried and tested materials for donors, and for parish treasurers. Monthly, Annual and Tax year statements are sent to each Parish.
     
  • The PGS is complimentary to any stewardship programme both at the point it is introduced and in subsequent years.

By offering this scheme in a parish and through donors' generous commitments, churches can be assured of a regular, tax efficient source of income which has the capacity to increase with the cost of living, yet involves virtually no administration. With the help of the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS), donors benefit from a system that is secure, confidential and easy to use, while supporting the Church today and for the future.’

There is a lot more information on the PGS website at www.parishgivingscheme.org.uk/

Here are a few reassurances. Although we are enthusiastically signing up for the scheme and want just as enthusiastically to promote it to you, how you give is a decision that is entirely up to you. We think that this is the natural and obvious way to handle income in the twenty-first century and I cannot commend it to you too highly. However, we know that many still give by putting cash into weekly and monthly envelopes, or simply putting cash into the collection basket as it comes round. The envelope scheme has been familiar since it first became widespread in the early 1970s. We will continue to make envelopes available for as long as people prefer to use them. One thing to bear in mind though, is that the quantity of cash that the church receives in this way has to be counted, recorded and taken to the bank every week. At the moment banks take cash deposits from churches without making any charge, but we anticipate that as banks move away from handling cash over the counter (and as some branches are closing), we may not be able to do this free of cost for very much longer.

We’ll be launching the Parish Giving Scheme, alongside a new stewardship scheme, later in the year. But you don’t need to wait for that to happen. If you want to, you’ll be able to sign up for it straight away. I certainly will!

And above all, let’s remember that everything we do, everything we give, is a recognition of God’s extravagant generosity in loving us all into being, in giving us Jesus his son to redeem our lives, and that every penny we give, goes towards proclaiming his love for this and future generations.

Yours ever in Christ

Fr Paul


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