Who 'owns' the parish magazine 'profits'?

Our Parish Magazine was started in its present form around 1985 - the then incumbent, when approached, said that the church could not support a magazine financially but gave the volunteer new editor his blessing. The editor and his family took on the whole financial burden of producing the magazine; all the equipment, responsibility for printing, distribution, etc. When in profit they made donations (various) to the church. In 1997 the editor 'parted company' with the then new incumbent who approached me with the request to carry on producing the magazine. The magazine funds were passed to me and I found someone who would be my treasurer. I then financed, out of my own pocket, all the necessary hardware and software needed to produce the magazine. Since 1997, like many editors, I have had complete unsupervised control over the content of our Parish Magazine. I get no help, financial or otherwise, from our church/PCC other than the vicar's letter. On a date which I have been unable to ascertain (one prior to my involvement) a verbal agreement was made between the then editor and the vicar that for the purpose of openness the magazine accounts would be presented at the annual APCM. Time passed (new vicars and new treasurers) and almost unnoticed these accounts became 'absorbed' into the yearly church statement although it was generally understood then that the church had no claim upon them. Today, and three vicars down the line, the PCC treasurer claims that because the magazine funds appear in the APCM financial report they 'belong' to the PCC and could be used to pay the bills of the church. What I need to know is - has any other editor found themselves in this position and, if so, what was the outcome? Finally may I say, I do not spend many hours every week producing a parish magazine to raise funds to pay the bills of the church. Bob Coombs
HI Bob, Firstly may I say you do a fantastic job of producing this and I would not be able to complete our church magazine without it. I also do not get funding (partly because I have never asked for it) as I provide this as part of my tithe to the church. Over the years we have produced along side the monthly mag, a cook book and a booklet of poems for donations to raise money for charities. I guess the question I am going to ask (and it doesnt have a right or wrong answer per se) what are your motives to doing this? is it a business? but more importantly where do you think God wants the money to go to? If you have been guided and in charge all this time I don't see how they can claim ownership of the money. I would recommend prayer and seeking legal advise. Sorry I haven't given you a specific answer but wanted you to know I will be praying. Terina
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question. FYI the gentleman who, with his wife, started the Parish Magazine, is still alive and kicking, as they say. I have discussed all of this with him and he is adamant that the Parish Magazine does not belong to the church but the Parish. However, by default, it has fallen under the church's umbrella by allowing the church to include the magazine funds to be audited by the church auditor pre APCM. The question of who should control the magazine profits has still not been resolved (agreed) and the vicar has put the question on the 'back burner' for another two years. I am a member of our local church but I decided to take on the task of producing a monthly magazine because it is a way of reaching out to the whole parish. I have told every incumbent that his 'sermon' is read by more people outside of the church than attend on a Sunday. Although our Parish Magazine contains 'religious' material it has a much wider brief. If you would like to read a copy and make your own judgement then you will find it at www.bishopshull.org.uk Thank you for your advice, Bob
Hello Bob. I agree with bananafactory that you do a great job! Our church used to get the magazine printed commercially by a local printing/stationery company and found that we were making a loss. Since the late 1980s we have printed in house although most of the editorial and DTP work is done at home by three of us. In over 15 years I have only asked once for the cost of printer ink to produce masters for copying and I believe that the others never have. The sales of our magazine (50p a copy) are shown as profit in our annual accounts (we have about 200 subscribers) and just go into the General Income slot. I would like to see some of this directed to local charities, but I believe that is unlikely to happen with the current financial struggle our church is faced with. I must say that I tend to regard my expenditure and a part of my giving. Keep up the good work - we would struggle without Parish Pump!
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my query. Please see my reply to the gentleman/lady above. Our circulation is also 200 copies a month and priced at 50p. We have a treasurer/advertising manager plus yours truly and every aspect of the magazine is controlled by us. Each month the magazine is printed commercially but without a cover or being stapled together. This keeps the cost of production to a minimum as I produce the 200 colour covers and my wife and I mate everything together. I estimate this saves us at least £1,200 a year. I am paid for all the paper and coloured inks and nothing else. All computers, software, printers, scanners etc were bought by me. As previously mentioned, the church has never had any 'interest' in how the magazine is produced or acknowledged the time and effort required until now - when church funds are under pressure. It is sometimes hard not to be cynical. You can find us at www.bishopshull.org.uk Regards, Bob
The 'ownership' of the magazine profits is a contentious point here too. Originally it was included in the PCC accounts and just covered one parish. When our vicar was given two other small parishes, their news was incorporated into the mag with any expenses being shared equally. At the time there was rarely a profit. Things changed when we were joined to yet another, much larger, parish. Our then treasurer decided that this was a step too far and felt she couldn't cope with the extra complications, so I took it upon myself to look after the accounts. The small church magazine produced by the larger parish was incorporated into ours, along with their advertisers. Their editor was leaving the district anyway. We now have a 64 page A5 mag with over 90 advertisers and a circulation of 800. I run it completely alone, with input from various village and church organisations. It is professionally printed and collated and delivered by volunteers. We now make a healthy profit. I do charge some expenses but use my own office equipment - bought especially to produce the mag. We have used some of the profits for any project which is 'benefice wide' but have failed to come up with a suitable method of sharing these extra funds. I do sometimes feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders!
Many thanks for looking at my problem. Please see the two replies above. Your situation would seem to be so much more complicated than mine but very similar in many respects. Our magazine, including cover and advertisements, runs to 56 A5 pages. (We take out the advertisements before we publish on the web). I am approaching my 80th in a year or so plus being unwell with cancer so inevitably I will have to hand over the 'job' to someone else. In the light of these facts the treasurer and I believe a large amount of our profits should be earmarked to buy everything necessary to continue producing the magazine. Not everyone willing to take on the job will have all the IT and hardware required. Setting aside this 'amount' would not leave a large surplus so it would be a comfort to know that the PCC would not consider claiming it to pay the church bills. Regards, Bob www.bishopshull.org.uk
Hi Bob, well done for posting such an interesting and honest comment. I wonder if there might be two threads to this question- First I do think you should be recording expenses. You are already giving time and no doubt giving properly through the collection, and the whole business of giving in this way can get a bit vague and hide the true facts from others. Some thought for prayer: if you believe you are already giving enough, then I wonder if its time for some investment, not out of getting even, but perhaps looking ahead - a laptop, or printer or some new software . This is about you feeling more happy and not 'used' ('Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain' - Deut 25.4). Secondly church finances - it is I would say, axiomatic that most churches operate just below their financial comfort level (except for some free churches which work heavily on tithing); therefore unless the church gets more serious about giving, the treasurer is always left looking for 'windfalls'. So the fact that the treasurer is interested in your 'profits' is not personal or greedy; the true state of the church's finances probably need revealing, and the PCC needs a more radical solution. This is not your problem! So my suggestion is you start to manage expectations at the next PCC so they know next year there will be less windfall profits in this area. And have a think about what you might to invest in with a clear conscience.
Thank you for your advice. Please see my other replies above. All income and expenditure is carefully logged and audited by the church auditor so that aspect is all above board. It is more than possible that very few people who buy the magazine have much of an inkling of how many 'little jobs' add up each month into the 'big job', and why should they. (Should that include the vicar and the PCC I wonder). My wife and I have sometimes sat down and discussed what is involved in magazine production each month and we find it is so complicated it would take ages to explain to a newcomer. This you already know. Tithing - my wife and I (in our opinion) are most generous considering we have been drawing our OAP for years plus the fact that each year I grow and sell vegetables to help pay something extra towards the church expenses. I'm certainly not in the magazine 'business' for the money. I acknowledge your comment re the treasurer's need to explore every financial avenue when funds are stretched to the limit so maybe bringing the magazine funds into the debate is a good thing. Thank you once again Regards, Bob www.bishopshull.org.uk
If the Parish Magazine is making a profit now after all expenses (including your Parish Pump subscription !) are taken into account, unless there is a Reserved Fund into which income is paid from the magazine, then the funds are part of the General Fund and the PCC is free to use them as they wish. In that case, however, the PCC must be willing to treat the production costs as a general expense as well. If you are personally supporting the magazine, you should be doing this via Gift Aid if you can as this will reduce the costs by 25%.
Thank you to everybody who have kindly given me their honest advice. When I posted my question I did explain (or did I) that the Parish Magazine started 'life' as a magazine privately produced albeit with the blessing of the then incumbent. The then Editor decided several years later that he thought it prudent to have the accounts audited. Rightly, or wrongly, and although the magazine was a 'private' venture, he accepted an offer from the vicar to have the accounts audited by the auditor used by the church. It was at this point that the magazine account was (in my humble opinion) incorrectly included in the church accounts and presented at the APCM. It is only now, some 30 years down the line, our original editor realises the full outcome of his decision. He is adamant that the PCC do not 'own' the magazine. However, this 'historical' information has fallen upon deaf ears and the PCC/Treasurer believe our PARISH magazine is a CHURCH magazine even though it has never given it any support since its 'birth'. I fully understand how the vicar, PCC and Treasurer (new upon the scene) believe the magazine belongs to the church - it's in the accounts! However, no one from the church has ever had access to the magazine funds except the editor and the magazine treasurer which brings us back to the original query - who actually owns the money, bearing in mind the history of its birth. Bob Coombs
When I was producing the church magazine "PARISH NEWS" I had complete independence though I raised matters such as raising the charge for it with the PCC mostly to keep them informed. I did not have a treasurer but paid any income from advertising and sales to the church treasurer and was never questioned about it. The church paid the printing costs to the diocesan printers. Thus the church made a profit to church funds of about £300 a year. It worked until my computer and I became incapable and the magazine ceased. The cost of "Parish Pump" (a valuable internet site for material for the mag) and ink and paper used at home were borne by me as my contribution to the church. I feel the church should value your (as I know) considerable contribution to church life and leave you to get on with it and allow you to say where the profit goes (Treasurers can seem to be grasping when they are looking to pay the purse) When I raise money otherwise i.e. talks about the church I tell them what I want it put towards, usually the Fabric Fund. The alternative is they get nothing. Sounds aggressive but it it is no use being so heavenly minded you're no earthly use. God bless. David Brewer
I very rarely post anything on the Forum page, but this exchange on the cost and who owns it, of magazines had me interested. It seems that we, as editors, take on a lot of responsibility and costs for the magazine we produce and love to produce. Parish Pump is a great help and used extensively. We produce a monthly magazine, some 700 copies each month and they sell at £1 each or £10 for the year. The magazine was taken over by myself some eight years ago and at that time it had 20 pages, most of which were edited by the then vicar and obviously, it was mainly funded by the church. The vicar then retired and for a period of about one year, we had no incumbent at all even though our area covered two churches. At that time I took over the responsibility of the magazine in total with sometimes contributions from the church wardens. The cost of the photocopying at the time was carried by the church as they leased a photocopier. However, the copies were of inferior quality and some three years ago it was decided to have the magazine professionally printed, and this is covered by the church. My contributions, providing computer time, paper and ink, as well as the collection of the magazine each month from the printers (a round trip of 160 miles) and my membership of Parish Pump are not refunded by the PCC. I may add that our parish area now covers four churches all with their own committees. Since I have taken over, our magazine has increased to between 80 and 88 pages, mainly through advertising and extra articles from local clubs, voluntary organisations and local issues. All the advertising revenue goes straight to the PCC although I do all the work in getting the advertising in every year. Last year alone made a profit for the PCC from the magazine membership and advertising of some £2,500 which I thought was pretty good. I have not personally asked the PCC to contribute to any of my own costs, believing that I do this mainly for pleasure, it certainly keeps me occupied and out of trouble, and I feel, even though I am not a Church of England member (I am catholic) I support the principal of the Christian faith and the local village community. I do sometimes feel that an offer of refunding some of my costs from the PCC might be good, but it has never been forthcoming from them. I do get the occasional comments of course when things are not to the PCC's liking, a printing error or an article in the wrong place will get them writing, but otherwise they take the money and leave me alone with responsibility for the magazine. But Mr Coombes, you are right, the PCC do believe that OUR magazine is CHURCH magazine even though they don't contribute to the contents of the magazine, or any of the production costs apart from the printing costs which are invoiced direct to the PCC.
Our Parish Magazine has been published continually since 1887 and copies are bound and stored. It is 52 pages (including covers) professionally produced in full colour with a satin finish. We print 1,150 copies per month of which 900 are for regular subscribers who have their magazine delivered free by a team of 'road stewards' - the remainder being sold in the local supermarket, a few High St shops and of course in the churches. It costs 60p per copy of £6 p.a. for subscribers. We maintain a balance of 50/50 between advertising and editorial, with a free design service, and affordable advert prices concentrating on all the small local businesses which cannot afford the hefty prices in the freebie mags. There is always a waiting list for advertising space. Broadly speaking the magazine sales pay for the printing and design costs and the adverts make the profit, which is shared between the three churches in our village benefice. Abut half of the magazine is 'church news' the rest is outreach with articles on wildlife, history, local events etc etc. In 2014 we were awarded a National Commendation at Central Hall Westminster by the Association of Church Editors in the category 'Outreach to a Wider Community'. As Editor I do claim my personal expenses - Parish Pump, paper, printer cartridges, postage etc but this is kept to a minimum. My time and expertise (such as it is) is given free. The magazine committee is answerable to the PCC of the Parish Church, which owns the magazine, but the accounts are kept completely separate in a 'restricted' fund. THIS WORKS and the end product is a magazine of which we are all justifiably proud.
Thank you for your input to this on-going 'debate'. I do appreciate all of the advice and stories re how things work for you. Most of the threads contain an answer to at least one part of my dilemma, however, in all of our magazine history the PCC/vicars (4) have never supported the magazine other than me requesting the incumbent to submit (sometimes under pressure from me) a 'sermon' each month. I do like your suggestion of a limited fund - we have one for the millennium garden - which would mean that the magazine profits are specifically targeted to the magazine expenses, etc. and not for the general upkeep of the church. Like many of you, my time and that of the treasurer and all involved in various ways, is given freely. You can see our January magazine on www.bishopshull.org.uk - the link is at the bottom of the page.
We produce a Parish/Community magazine which goes to some 300 subscribers 10 months of the year and is then distributed free to every house in our two parishes at Easter and Christmas (about 750 copies). The magazine is usually some 40 pages long, costs 50p and is produced internally on a fairly sophisticated printer/stapler/finisher. The magazine contains both church and community articles all inserted at the discretion of the editor (supplemented from time to time with articles from parish pump of course). From the outset all expenditure was shared by the two PCCs and any profit (on the rare occasion we make any!) or loss is also shared between the two PCCs. In return all the internal printing for our three churches is "free". We cover our costs through the sales of the magazine, advertising in the magazine and charging for external printing. All the printing, editing, distribution etc is carried out by volunteers.We pay expenses for Parish Pump subscriptions etc. Now that the costs of these machines have dropped considerably and the Church of England has negotiated contract terms with a couple of major suppliers we do not expect to make a significant loss in 2016 and might even show a profit. The accounts for the magazine appear in the PCC accounts for one of the churches and are reported on at both churches Annual Meetings.
I have just stood down as Editor of our joint parish magazine after 25 years. When I took over the magazine was 'funded' by the two churches, in as much as the income from advertising went to one church treasurer, who then paid the printer. The income from subscriptions went to each respective church treasurer. This system was not working very well as one church was constantly being billed for costs without any reference to a set of accounts. Eventually, I broke away from this system (with the blessing of the 'poorer' treasurer) and set up an entirely separate bank account into which all the funds went and from which all bills were paid. We discovered we were making a profit every year of around £4,000! This was shared between the two churches at the end of the financial year. While the accounts are freely available for anyone to inspect, the only reference made at the APCMs is a brief report of how well the magazine is doing and the amount donated to each PCC. In essence, since around 1995, we have run as a totally independent magazine with an editor, treasurer, and advertising space seller. Now I have retired, and no one has stepped into fill the role, the magazine is being wound up. Advertisers with outstanding advertisements have been reimbursed, expenses paid, and the remaining balance of funds will be shared between the 2 churches.
Dear Jackie, Thank you for your input - I'm so sorry to hear that your magazine has had to be wound up now that you have retired. I'm 79 and have cancer so it probably won't be long before I have to hang up my editor's hat too. Like yourself I have yet to find anyone to take over so it seems we will have to put our magazine to bed too. Our magazine has always had a separate bank account and the money can only be accessed by the treasurer and myself, however, it has taken almost 30 years to build up a reserve of around £5000 pounds. This year we made a small loss but have decided not to raise the magazine price but to continue until our bank account reaches a level at which there are still sufficient funds to pay for all the bits and pieces a new editor would need. The treasurer and I have decided that the 'excess' funds belong to our loyal subscribers and it is they who should benefit whilst we deplete the bank account. This may not be to the liking of out PCC treasurer, who is trying to balance the church accounts, but the church has never supported us financially which is the main reason why we feel the profits belong to the subscribers. Thank you for taking part in this 'debate'. Bob Coombs
Hi all My magazine is a solo effort so its purely my time which is no problem. It is printed in house and has beteen 32 & 40 pages per issue. Christmas may have more. As for finances I find that I don't need subsidising by the Church because over time we have built up a number of advertisers: Full page cost is £120 per year, Half page is £72 and quarter page is £36 - the only difference was a request by one of our local Undertakers (we have adverts from 4) to have the outside back page for which they were willing to pay a premium so they are charged £160 per year. The magazine costs 50p per issue and have between 230 - 250 per month circulation. It more than pays its way and allows the church to have a good copy/printer - apart from the fact I cannot afford to print in colour. Apparently if I have even a small amount of colour on one page we get charged for the whole magazine as being a colour copy. This is ridiculous as the cost of printing is: Black and white per sheet 0.06p + vat - Colour per sheet 6p + vat.
Dear Stephen, Thank you for your input and your reference to the difference between the cost of B&W and colour printing. I print all of the colour covers (200) each month on my home printer, all the magazine pages (52) are commercially printed and my wife and I staple the whole lot together. Our advertising (£84 a page for 12 months) and subscriptions (£6.00) just cover the cost of producing the magazine. We have been quoted £100 a month to print 200 colour covers - I manage to do that for around £10 thereby 'saving' £90 a month i.e. a saving of over £1,000 a year. Our church has never had any involvement in the production of the magazine, which started life entirely as a 'private' venture. However, the auditing of the magazine account was offered free of charge by the church some years ago which, by default, explains why it appears in the annual church accounts and why the PCC makes claim to the magazine funds. Six vicars have come and gone since the magazine first started and (cynically) only now that we have a surplus is the PCC interested. Please see my reply to Jackie above. Bob Coombs
20 years ago our magazine was literally "cut and paste" and produced in-house. Ten years ago when I resumed editing it, we started using a commercial printer which we do to this day. We charge a subscription of £8.00 for 11 copies and charge for advertising and until recently the finances have been absorbed into the PCC account. Most of the articles are emailed to me and I have a scanner to deal with posters etc. We are now progressing from one parish of 6 village churches to merging with two other benefices to form a single parish with 16 village churches. The other 2 benefices have their own efficient means of communicating and one parish magazine for such a wide area seems untenable. Therefore our magazine has changed from a parish magazine to a community magazine for the six villages and is completely independent financially. As editor, I endeavour to incorporate as much non-church news as possible but the volume of church news remains almost the same as previously but at the back of the magazine instead of the front. It is interesting for me to discover that the magazine will produce a surplus at the year end.
Dear Malcolm - thank you for letting us know about your magazine - it sounds to me like an enormous amount of work so, congratulations. Our humble (200 copies a month) magazine starts year 31 of publication next June of which my editorial input has been for 18. I too had to cut and paste, buy a computer, etc. learn DTP and spend quite a lot of my own money before I was satisfied the magazine was worth buying each month. Like you I find that the input from our church is minimal and I also try to fill the pages with articles of interest to the wider community as a means of 'outreach'. If you have followed this thread you will understand that, although our church has never had an official financial link with the magazine or contributed to its success, the PCC have declared that it is its owner and therefore wants access to our bank account. Last year we (the treasurer and I) and the vicar/PCC could not agree so we have a 'stand off' and the vicar has put things 'on the back burner' for two years. As I'm coming up to my 80th birthday soon I have been hoping someone in a similar position, re who owns the magazine, could have suggested an amicable way forward by the time I have to 'retire'. As you can see from the exchanges above, there have been many suggestions but I fear that upon my retirement the magazine will be 'put to bed' and the money will still be in dispute. I hope this will not be the case and that someone will come forward to carry on my work and an amicable solution will be forthcoming. see www.bishopshull.org.uk for sight of our April magazine.
2 September 2016 Dear All. The months pass and nothing has been resolved. Everything is 'on the back burner' and neither the editor, treasurer and incumbent have been able to resolve the problem of who owns the magazine funds. It's all so frustrating. A new 'problem' has now arisen. Some subscribers are voluntarily adding additional amounts to their normal annual subscription payment. This year the extra sum has reached £84.00. I cannot but wonder where the subscriber expects the extra money to be spent as we have not received any instructions. Is it time for the 'dispute' to be made public in the magazine? Any fresh thoughts would be much appreciated. Bob Coombs
The matter of continuity or ceasing production is not just one of cost. Let's suppose the next editor/producer already owns all his/her own equipment (which may well be possible, since otherwise they won't have the expertise to do DTP work - which is how I came to edit our parish magazine!) There will be the crucial problem of matching up the software systems. Microsoft Publisher is no longer for sale separately; I think it's available, if at all, on a 'rental' system with Office Professional. Serif software as an alternative? Which version? You do need either completely compatible software, or (as I was faced with when the previous editor died suddenly) you start from scratch, to design the layout and styles using different software. I quite enjoyed creating a new format from scratch, but the problem usually lies with the adverts - I had to re-create those, often guessing at fonts and point sizes, since scanning resulted in blurred results. I suggest, then, that you concentrate the minds of the PCC by giving a firm date on which you intend to pass the task on, to their candidate, and explain that it simply cannot be done by someone using 'Word'. It may put the financial issue into perspective for them, if it is their decision to cancel the community magazine. By the way, it looks an attractive publication! (I'm a retired clergyman, aged 78, by the way, who's been using computers since the BBC 'B' in 1984 as a substitute for Tippex. I salute all those devoted editors who donate their talents and time & computers to a valuable task - not forgetting the invaluable ParishPump.)
Dear Mikhail, Thank you for your contribution to this long standing debate as to whom the magazine 'profits' belong. I too am retired and will be 80 in January so the 'problem' of a successor won't be too long in coming. Looking ahead I wish that there was someone who would sit alongside me and be ready to take up the reigns - regrettably I have sadly failed in all my attempts to recruit someone (anyone) who is the least bit interested in the continuation of the Parish Magazine. My tenure as unsupervised editor will soon reach its 20th year so, like your good self, I had to struggle from day one and drag myself into the 20th century - there must be more up to date people out there surely. It is a sad reflection upon my PCC that not one of the three incumbents who came and went did nothing to support me and often made it a chore to produce something for me each month. The treasurer and I have decided that, from time to time, to make donations to the church e.g. for Advent calendars for the local school, and to keep the cover price as it is until the accumulated funds fall to a much lower level. I trust I do not leave you feeling too depressed. Blessings, Bob
Aha! It is indeed an 'issue'! In our case, the previous editor/administrator told me quite firmly the magazine had nothing to do with the church funds - although, as has happened above, we have to submit accounts to the church Treasurer, for inclusion in the the overall church accounts, to be scrutinised by an (outside) accountant... As the previous administrator had been so frugal and careful, a large sum of money was sitting in a 'reserve' account, earning...well, nothing! A critical time came up in the church, and we were asked to pass over some of the money. We of course did - what is all that money for, in the end? However, now we are being asked every year how much the finance committee of the PCC can count on from the magazine! Not many people on the PCC even subscribe to the magazine, and I have to 'badger' the congregation for any news, etc. I think that's just the way it is! But there are times when I wonder how long our local parish magazine will go on for, as we have serious competition from a free of charge magazine that has started up covering around 10 local villages. It is a very fine, professional, glossy production with very good articles, which makes heavy charges to advertisers so that it can be delivered 'free' by the post office to every household in the area. At least we also do a digital version, for those who do not want more paper around their houses... We did personally invest in Page Plus (Serif), and use our company's printer & ink for drafts, but have resorted to professional printers for the final copy. Time will tell, I guess, when we try to pass it on to someone else!
Dear Buckland, Thank you for keeping this 'thread' alive. Please see my reply to Mikhail above. I too use Serif Page Plus to produce the magazine and find it so useful. With regard to handing over excess funds to your PCC - in your humble opinion, (as PCC's and its members come and go), just how much support do you get, if any, and is your PCC shown as being the owners per se? Our magazine has never been under the control of the PCC, it gives us no support in any way and it is entirely under the control of myself and the treasurer. Over the whole life of the magazine the only 'support' given has been the free annual audit. When this free audit was offered (before my time) there was no discussion as to whether the audit information should be recorded in the APCM minutes. Like many things in life, when situations are allowed to 'drift' and no one queries anything, assumptions are made and conflicts begin. It is quite understandable that or present incumbent arrived thinking the Parish Magazine was a church publication. Our previous treasurer was the husband of our then vicar. When they moved to another parish he told our present treasurer, "Don't let the PCC get hold of your bank account". I did wonder what he meant by giving this advice - did he know something we don't I wonder. As things stand, much like the debate on Brexit, I fear I'll be long gone before things are resolved to my satisfaction. Blessings, Bob
Our Parish News was, I understand, started by a previous vicar and is therefore part of the church. We have about 350 copies of an A5 magazine professionally printed each month and charge £5 a year for 12 copies of about 36 or 40 sides. I regard the News as part of the church's outreach to the local community and, although we include a leader from the vicar and details of the church services, we also list times, dates and places of regular and occasional village meetings (Women's Institute, Ladies' Circle, Parish Council, ...) and articles which are of interest to the community at large -- Parish Council report, for instance, Village Hall committee and so on. Occasional articles and cartoons from Parish Pump are also very useful to enliven the magazine and fill the odd page. As for finance, the subscriptions are paid into PCC funds. The church treasurer is also the advertisement manager, so he collects the money and I hack the advertisements into shape for the magazine. We make a steady profit which, of course goes to the PCC -- but I do reclaim the Parish Pump subscription! As for software, I have used only free and open source software (Linux) for the ten years of my editorship. Many contributions come in by email often as Microsoft Word files and I reply, if necessary, with attachments in .doc format or .pdf but the magazine is assembled using LibreOffice and uploaded direct to our printers. Any editing of pictures, if needed, can readily be done using the Gimp (terrible name, but similar to the more prettily named Photoshop). Linux is easy to download and install, it works straight out of the box, does not need any validating codes and, of course, does not cost anything. You also don't need the most uptodate computer to run it on.
Dear Ian, I can almost hear the buzz in your office from here as you put the magazine together each month, and very professional it all sounds compared to yours truly at work. Except for one person getting the advertising and acting as treasurer I'm 100% on my own. I do have a local printer professionally print the magazine each month but I compose and print the coloured covers at home before my wife and I staple it all together. It's almost 20 years since I took on the task and still no support from the PCC i.e. input or funding except for the vicar's 'sermon page'. This is the reason I started this discussion following an approach from the vicar and treasurer asking for most of the magazine 'profits'. The magazine started life as a private imitative. Following a discussion with the then incumbent, the church said it could not fund it in any way hence it was named 'Parish Magazine'. A few years down the line the church kindly offered to have the Parish Magazine accounts audited free along with the PCC accounts. The auditor, in his wisdom, along with the treasurer, then incorrectly included the Parish Magazine accounts in the APCM report. It is therefore easy to see that following vicars believed the magazine was the 'property' of the church/PCC. The question of who owns the magazine and its profits has still not been resolved. As a matter of interest Ian, how many people do you have on your team? Were they au fait with computers and software? I started with cut and paste then moved on to a typewriter then purchased my own computer, software, etc. and have struggled on my own to come to terms with it all. Finally, thank you for your interest and input to the on-going debate. Seasons Greetings, Bob
For more years than I can recall (and probably even longer!) our Parish Magazine has been produced by an editor - currently me - and all the income and expenditure has gone through the parish accounts, being shown in the annual accounts under separate headings. I count myself fortunate to have a very supportive Vicar and PCC (of which I am also a member). Any expenses that I personally pay from time to time, e.g. Parish Pump, are immediately reimbursed by our Treasurer. I also receive an allowance to cover my own expenses such as ink and paper to print draft proof copies. Similarly, all income from sales and advertising go straight to him for inclusion in the church accounts. More direct expenditure, such as monthly printing costs and Diocesan inserts, are paid direct by the Treasurer.
Dear Alan, A Happy New Year. Thank you for your input to this ongoing 'problem' of mine. If one takes the PCC, and its annual accounting, out of the equation then your situation seems to reflect almost exactly how our Parish Magazine works financially. The treasurer and I (plus help from our wives) have sole control over all those things you mention. The only thing missing over these past 20 years is the support of our church hierarchy, albeit that some of our 'deliverers' are members of the congregation. This past year the treasurer and I agreed, once again, to donate funds to the church to cover the cost of posting the magazine to LMG members and also to purchase Advent calendars for the local primary school. These actions directly reflect the aspirations of the magazine founders in supporting our church when finances permit. However, the magazine was never intended as a liturgical (if that is the correct word) vehicle but something that reflected all aspects of village, rural and a wider view of the world around us. I am pleased that within our limited circulation (200 copies a month) we reach far more people than the number who regularly attend the church. We continue to keep the cover price low (it has risen over the last 20 years from 20p to 50p) on the understanding that any profits are 'returned' to the readers/purchasers and are therefore not intended to pay the bills of the church.
In the following it is acknowledged that our different denominations have different regulations regarding accounting for income and expenditure. This then simply adds to the collective experience. An A5 page newsletter of up to 60 pages and an A5 supplement - a diary, directory, adverts, events in the 11 churches in the town etc - is produced each month. Copies are distributed to each church member; those not members who attend a monthly coffee morning; anyone who is mentioned because of wedding or baptism and bereaved families; clergy and representatives of the other 10 churches in the town. Here's the money bit. Each print run of 125 of newsletter/supplement costs around £2 a copy. A decision was unanimous that the newsletter be free - but you get nothing for free. Why free? Because of the effort needed to collect £2's, advertising fees etc. There are those who make donations - some quite generous - but the costs are primarily covered by 'if you think the newsletter is worth having then put something extra in the (Sunday) offertory plate.' Why that route? Note the comment above which led to with agreement of members the £250 a month cost less donations is recovered through a submission to the church treasurer.
Hi, I live in a rural Benefice of five parishes. I am editor of our magazine, Valley Views. It is a community magazine, delivered free to every household in the five parishes. It is financed by advertising and commercial advertising rates are charged. We have our own printing machine. The financial side of the magazine was set up by an accountant, so I thought the following information might be of help. It is a letter from the accountant detailing how a change in accounting laws has enabled a different system to be used, and I think best explains our current and past financing situation. "**** PCC have, to date, run Valley Views on behalf of the Benefice. This is because the scheme was set up through individual donations which carried Gift Aid, and the Benefice is not itself a charity able to reclaim tax. **** PCC have run a Restricted Fund for this purpose. Accounting rules have recently been relaxed, and it is now possible for the whole scheme to be handed over to the Benefice. We recommend that the new machine is bought by the Benefice from funds held by ****.PCC, and in future all receipts and payments for Valley Views will go through the Benefice account. In the past, **** PCC have paid a dividend out of the Valley Views account of £3,000 per annum, and have charged the Benefice for non VV copying on an annual basis. I estimate that ****.PCC will be holding about £X of Valley Views reserves, after paying the dividend and the cost of the new machine. This will become available to the Benefice once the accounts are agreed, but it would be prudent to keep money in reserve in the Benefice account for future machine replacements."
Dear Ruth, Thank you for your contribution to this debate. I find it amazing that there are so many different schemes afoot on the subject of magazines, their production and finance. I always relate my problems to the situation you find yourself in when you are asked to alter/correct someone else's work. As the Irishman said, when asked directions, "If I were you I wouldn't start from here." Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. In the case of our Parish Magazine we would not be in 'conflict' with vicar/PCC over who owns the bank balance if the audit of accounts had not been offered (and accepted by the then editor) for free by the then incumbent who promptly added them to the annual financial church accounts. I fear our disagreements will not be resolved in my lifetime as I have past my 80th birthday and am battling with lymphoma. Thank you once again for your post. Bob Coombs