Like other organizations and individuals, congregations face a variety of risks that need to be understood and planned for to minimize their potential impact. Managing risk involves thoughtful discernment of these unwanted events as well as the insurance or other backup plans needed to address them when they do.
Backup and Secure Computer Data
Since IT infrastructure is critical to daily operations, it’s necessary to have a plan to address all levels of disruption. Hardware and network failure, office disasters like fire, flooding or burglary, and security breaches – including viruses and malware – are all possible sources of interruption. When these things happen, proactive planning and preparation will mean returning to normal faster.
Practices that should be part of your plan include regularly backing up computer files and securely storing that data offsite, using anti-virus and malware detection software, using stronger passwords and changing them periodically, and encrypting sensitive data. Your plan might also favor moving over time to cloud-based software where larger companies are responsible for uninterrupted service, updating operating systems and applications to take advantage of newer security features, and training and empowering pastors and individual users to be responsible for these backup and security measures on their own.
Your plan should also have an inventory and map of computers, servers, switches, routers and printers, along with details about operating systems, network settings, software versions and licenses. If any of these devices were to fail, or if your designated IT guru is unavailable, these details will help you get up and running more quickly.
Inventory Property and Physical Assets
Buildings, furnishings, vehicles, computers, audio-visual equipment and other physical items are critical for ministry and need to be taken care of (see section in the “Finance” module) and insured. And, since property insurance coverage is about real assets, it is essential to inventory your congregation’s belongings to know the extent of your property.
It may be tempting to think of only more expensive, big-ticket items, but remember that smaller and specialty things can add up in value too. To do an inventory, go from room to room taking pictures or recording video of the contents along the way. You should also have a printed list or spreadsheet with columns for date acquired, purchase price, current or replacement cost and serial numbers.
Beyond the initial inventory, annual updates should add and remove items from the list, as well as adjust replacement costs as necessary.
Assess Risk and Use Insurance to Manage
At the heart of risk management is the potential to suffer a loss at an estimated frequency and cost. Losses can be varied and related to property, liability, workplace injury, automobiles and misconduct to name a few. Smaller losses can be self-insured through internal reserves, while the potential for larger losses demands mitigation through insurance. It is important for congregations to be able to understand their needs for external coverage and the tradeoffs between premiums, deductibles and insured coverage.
An annual review of insurance contracts is a good idea, with an awareness of changes in risk and insurance costs. Be sure to understand the details of your policies, as it is not uncommon for special riders and options to be necessary to get the coverage you are expecting.
Provide Feedback to Resourceful Servants
The Congregational Certificate Program is currently in the pilot phase. If there is a resource that is particularly helpful to you, or one that is not helpful, or if you believe a healthy congregational behavior is missing from our list, we want to know about it.
Use the Congregational Certificate Feedback Survey to guide your specific feedback to us. We will take all this feedback into account as we enhance this site.
Track Your Progress
Track your congregation’s improvement on healthy financial behaviors using the Congregational Portal. Start by indicating your congregation’s current proficiency on the behaviors associated with each of the 5 modules included on this website: Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Risk Management and Stewardship.
As your congregation implements new behaviors, log in to the portal, find the behavior and indicate your improved proficiency.
To log in, you will need your five-digit congregational ID and the password provided to you to complete your annual report. If you need this information, contact Resourceful Servants at firstname.lastname@example.org.