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UK News

Churches seeing 'huge drop in income' due to coronavirus, charity says

by Premier Journalist

A leading UK organisation which advocates for generous charitable giving has said that churches have seen a dramatic drop in their income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Stewardship said that churches who are without an adequate online giving platform have been worse affected, as the ban on in-person services meant that many couldn't easily donate to their ministry by means of cash or cheque. 

The CEO of the charity, Stewart McCulloch, said that is has become clear to them that "literally thousands of churches are losing usual donations from members, simply because they don't have the resources or expertise to set up safe, user-friendly, online donor options."

The organisations head of growth Pod Bhogal told Premier Christian News: "Many of them have websites, but they don't have online donations.  

"Therefore what they've ended up doing is things like going to PayPal to receive donations, where you can't receive Gift Aid. Or they've gone to other donation platforms where the fee structure is quite opaque, but also the Gift Aid is not paid instantly, which is something that Stewardship would do if the church used as their online platform for receiving donations."

With Stewardship's system, a custom link can be created for churches and sent out to members to ensure they have an avenue through which to give. 

Bhogal explained churches have also lost money from not being able to rent out their halls or have any of their business-related ministries like cafes during lockdown. 

"We think it's really an opportunity for Christians to really step up and really fill the void, and be really active in their generosity during this time. The need is really massive so there's an opportunity for us to step in and fill that need."

Many church denominations were quick to spot the financial implications of the coronavirus as the situation started becoming more serious. In March, treasurer of the Baptist Union, John Levick, issued a letter recognising the severity of the financial circumstances and providing guidance to church leaders. 

"With no services, churches will lose income which comes in the offerings on a Sunday," he wrote at the time. "Where your people are already giving by standing order or online you may want to communicate to them that the church will continue to incur costs and encourage them to maintain their giving.

Where people normally give in the offering on Sunday, then encourage them to give by standing order or online." 

He added: "Regrettably you may have people in your congregation who will either lose their employment or have to take unpaid leave. You will need to recognise that these people will be unlikely to be able to maintain their giving to the church." 

Listen to Premier's interview with Pod Bhogal here: 

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