Last year I posted a method Patrick Lynch shared with me, to do Tithing Settlement in 2 days. After posting, I presented the idea to my Bishopric (I was the Executive Secretary). They were all for it, especially the Bishop. A few days later, that Bishopric was released and a new one called, retaining me as Executive Secretary and the Ward Clerk as well. The new Bishop was unsure of this idea at first. He wanted time to get to know people in the ward. Ultimately he decided–with almost no prompting from me–to go ahead with the “2-day method.”
The post received lots of great discussion, including many people telling how their ward had done something similar and how well it had gone. I wanted to follow up with a report on how it went in our ward with a brand-new Bishop and Bishopric. If something doesn’t make sense, please see the original post, for context. Also, I discussed some of this in a recent podcast on LeadingLDS, with 5 former or current bishops.
Scheduling The Ward
We never posted a signup sheet on the Bishop’s door (I know, “heresy!” right?). Instead I setup a Google Calendar that was synced with the excellent YouCanBook.me webapp. It took a little testing to get the settings all correct, but once I was done, I could add blocks of time to the Google calendar, and it would show those blocks as available time for Tithing Settlement at the special YCBM URL (something like myward.youcanbook.me). I initially set it so only the first 3 or 4 hours of the first day were available. It lets people click a block of time they’d like to schedule then enter their name and email to schedule it. It’s very simple, and about as frictionless as possible.
I then went to the online version of MLS and exported the entire ward’s contact information as a CSV file. I edited that as a Google Spreadsheet (Excel works too) and removed all the columns except names and email addresses. I imported that into my Gmail account, making sure to import them to a new group, so I could remove them later. I also imported a email list the previous bishop sent me, and then did a “find and merge duplicates.”
Next I composed and email to that new group (the ward) and sent them all an email with the custom YouCanBook.me link and an explanation that this year they could signup online. Pretty quickly, the first half of our first day was filled, and I adjusted the calendar to open up the rest of that day. Once that was mostly full, I added the 1st part of Sunday, and so on. This helped to make sure there were very few gaps in the schedule.
I also made up some quick signup sheets before church, making sure to block out any times previously scheduled on YCBM. I also removed any available time on YCBM for the duration of Church meetings, so there would be no double-booking. I then went around to the various classes and auxiliaries and passed around the signup sheets, taking a minute to explain (if I could without disrupting class) that this was their chance to signup if they hadn’t received the email or didn’t feel comfortable signing up online. I then put those into YCBM myself, so they’d show up on the calendar. I also hung-out outside the Bishop’s office after church, and just put people’s info right in to YouCanBook.me as they requested to schedule Tithing Settlement.
As the first day approached, I sent out reminders to everyone to signup if they hadn’t already, and copy/pasted the schedule (from Google Calendar) into the email, to remind all who had signed up, of when their times was. I politely asked people to try and be on time and reassured them that waits would not be long. I think the novelty of signing up online, made them believe things were going to be different this year.
On the 1st Sat. morning, I grabbed a table from a classroom and put it outside the Bishop’s office and put my laptop on it, with an incognito window of Chrome open to LDS.org to get get people signed up. I didn’t get a phone/tablet attachment for a tripod, so I didn’t bother even trying to set one up.
I printed out the day’s schedule from Google Calendar, and brought 5 copies with me for the Bishop, his 2 counselors, the Clerk, etc. I’d shared it with each of them previously, so they could view it on their phones/tablets, as well. It gave the Bishop some warning of who to expect next, and help him greet them by name, even in cases where he might have been unsure.
The 10 Minute Schedule
This part went swimmingly. People were largely on-time, and I rarely had to knock on the Bishop’s door to remind them their time was almost up. Most came out at 8 or 9 minutes. Since we forced people to fill each block of 3-4 hrs before opening more, there were rarely any waits, except during the last 10 mins of each hour, when we often found ourselves still on schedule and free to stretch or get to know each other a little better.
Station 1: Information Confirmation or Correction
The Clerk & Counselors would look at the schedule and print people’s records before they arrived. When they did walk in, would just hand a copy to them when they arrived, and another copy to the Bishop when he came out of the previous appointment.
Station 2: LDS.org Account Setup
Most people in our ward seemed to have done this. There were lots of people who’d done FamilySearch.org, indexing, etc. So we quit asking after the 1st day.
This became station #1. I found that if I caught them before they sat down, they were a lot less resistant. So I just found a section of wall with no outlets or pictures, and would intercept people at that point, with my tablet in hand, as they came down toward the Bishop’s office. I used the LDS Tools Android app and just took/uploaded their picture right to the app. So it was on MLS within minutes. For those that protested, I found that the following dialogue worked really great:
Me: “Do you have an LDS.org account?”
Me: “We’ll take your picture now, and if you don’t like it, just go home and login to your LDS.org account and upload one that you do like.”
I only had 1 person who absolutely refused. Everyone else let me take the picture, and by the end of Tithing Settlement, we had pictures of 90% of the active members of the ward which was very helpful to a lot of people in the ward, especially those who were newer, but had callings that require them to communicate with lots of people in the ward.
Station 4: Meeting With The Bishop
As mentioned, this went very well. The Bishop remarked that “I’m just not that chatty,” implying that 10 minutes was usually plenty. In a few cases where I had to actually knock on the door, the knock usually made the people there hurry to wrap up. In those cases sometimes the Bishop would tell them to talk with me and schedule another meeting with him. In other cases, he’d just whisper to me after they left, that I needed to call and schedule them to meet with him again.
As said, we made a few adjustments. The main things were eliminating the LDS.org account setup, since it wasn’t really needed in that particular ward, and doing photos 1st. I think doing photos 1st is really important and will work better for most wards. Our stations were:
- Records Information
- Meeting with the Bishop
Ultimately, we had to do a few followup “sessions” of a couple hours, to get everyone completed. But the majority were done in 3 days, in-spite of an unusual snow storm that made everything crazy and even got church canceled, since the UDOT isn’t equipped with snowplows in St George.
I think this system is awesome. And so did the Bishopric. Though new in that particular Bishopric, the entire bishopric had all been involved in Tithing Settlement in previous Bishopric callings. They all paid me many compliments saying they’d “never seen tithing settlement run so smoothly,” and that it was the “most enjoyable and least stressful” they’d ever experienced. It wasn’t me, it’s just a brilliant system and I’m super glad Patrick Lynch shared it with me. It was a blessing, and allowed me to spend a lot more time with my family last Christmas.
I’d love to hear other adjustments, ideas, or feedback on how this works.