INDIANAPOLIS – Many congregations don’t realize they are taxed on their electric and other utility bills even though they are a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization.

Why? Mostly because no one has told them, according to Monte Chamberlin, founder and owner of Cost Stewardship, an organization with the purpose of “leveraging dollars and sense to fund ministries.”

During an in-office interview, Chamberlain told Together, many congregations just simply don’t know what exemptions and discounts are available to them and Cost Stewardship can help them at no charge.

This program is endorsed and used by the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church.

According to Chamberlain, if they are not currently doing so, churches can receive utility sales tax refunds on electric, gas, telephone-Internet and water utility bills. Another refund – if a church purchases gasoline from a gas station, it can receive a 22 cent-per-gallon sales tax credit for purchases. If a church pays for health care benefits (medical or dental), it can receive a health care tax credit or refund if it is not currently receiving one, says Chamberlain.

Through smart planning, Cost Stewardship can help congregations analyze their phone and Internet bills, purchase office supplies with discounts, receive discounts on copier services and receive helpful information about keeping more funds in the church for ministry.

Chamberlain also is known as “the doughnut man,” because he first negotiated discount prices for Sunday-fresh doughnuts for United Methodist churches with Mister Donut.

Cost Stewardship also can help churches that are paying mortgages higher than six percent.

“The most common obstacle to trying something new is taking the first step,” says Chamberlain. And, he is willing to help churches take that first step at no cost with minimal efforts.

He directs, “Have someone from your group copy the most recent month’s bills for gas, electric, water, phone, Internet, gasoline, copier lease, plus maintenance and office supply invoices. This often takes ten minutes.”

Complete a one-page survey and mail or fax it to Cost Stewardship. Cost Stewardship address or fax number is available online at www.coststewardship.org. Click “Take the Survey” button to download.

This website also includes a four-minute video by Jennifer Gallagher, Director of Financial Services for the Indiana Conference UMC, explaining the program.

The website also includes several testimonials, plus contact information for Kevin Raidy, Director of Ministry Partners at Cost Stewardship, if a congregation wishes to schedule a time to discuss the Cost Stewardship programs available to local churches.

Chamberlain says, “Most of the feedback we receive from our churches is 10 percent to 40 percent savings. All of our programs have no enrollment costs, many programs have no term lengths and some programs have simple gain sharing agreements. These programs are designed as no risk to try.”

Since 2010, churches using Cost Stewardship have collectively saved more than $1.6 million, half of that amount was saved during 2013.

For more information, visit www.coststewardship.org.


“The most common obstacle to trying something new is taking the first step.”

– Monte Chamberlin