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Creating a narrative budget

move beyond a pie chart to a narrative budget

Church finance expert Bonnie Ives Marden shares a step-by-step process of creating a narrative budget, a powerful and effective tool for stewardship, evangelism, and marketing. 

In this Leading Ideas stewardship feature, Bonnie Ives Marden notes … “A picture is worth a thousand words! A narrative budget presentation that converts your line item budget into an inspiring visual is useful during a pledge or commitment campaign, for ongoing stewardship education, or as part of a visitor information packet.

“Transforming your financial line items into a mission-oriented story requires a moderately simple math exercise, most easily managed using a spread­sheet program, such as Excel. Work with a small team of leaders, including Finance and Stewardship Committee members, staff, a skilled writer, and a graphic artist, if available, to supplement your budget story or pie chart with pictures of people and ministries as well as testimonials. Most importantly, have fun and celebrate all God is doing through your mission.”


Bonnie Ives Marden is leadership consultant and financial coach. She works to equip clergy and laity for leadership development, team building, visioning, stewardship and organizational development. More detail is available in her book, Church Finances for Missional Leaders: Best Practices for Faithful Stewardship (2019 by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry). Available at Cokesbury.

Last Updated on August 20, 2019

The Michigan Conference