View Full Version : Thinking about doing some churches for free

03-02-2010, 08:59 PM
Flame me if you'd like.

I considered sending them a letter offering 20% off services, then I talked to a few people that said, go ahead and just mow them for free, with hopes of picking up a few jobs here and there from the congregation.
Reason I can do this...I don't have any employees. Its only my own time im killing. And most of the churches here just have some member of the church mow it on a saturday, so its not like ill be putting landscapers out of work.

Anyone done anything crazy like this? Has it worked out? Failed? Terrible idea?

Lets hear from the master landscapers.

03-02-2010, 09:24 PM
it could work just fine, i say go for it.

03-02-2010, 09:24 PM
It's a fair idea that you want to pick up accounts from the congregation, but think about how many of them will even hear that you're taking care of their church. Doing anything for free is a bad idea. Are you willing to gamble your time and equipment on the hopes of picking up a few accounts? Don't let us tell you what to do but think long and hard about this one before you commit to something like that.

03-02-2010, 09:25 PM
I have been paid, and it's not spelled payed, by two churches for over 20 years and have never gotten one job from either of them. Don't ever do a job for free.

03-02-2010, 09:46 PM
You are thinking outside the box, for sure. That is something a person or company needs to do to survive these days and is commendable. Here are a few things to ponder.

Church congregations, generally, like to take care for their own things and help others.

That person or persons that you see mowing on the weekends, might be doing that as part of their giving.

You might do better, to join a congregation of your choice and after a period of time, after your new friends find out what your business is, you might pick up a few accounts.

You might also want to read matthew 21:12 and see what Jesus had to say about conducting business in His house.

Just a few things for you to consider. Have a great night.

03-02-2010, 09:50 PM
If you are going to do this for free.... Go to the pastor. Tell him you want to cut the churches lawn for 5 times your normal going rate, and you will donate all the procedes to his church.

You get a nice big write off, and the church gets it lawn mowed. The only person who gets screwed is Obama, and he got enough money anyway.

rain man
03-02-2010, 09:52 PM
Church members who are presently cutting the grass and getting paid are not going to just let you have the job and little old members who do it for free often do it because they like it. If you do get some it will smell of desperation. Desperation doe not always draw the best paying jobs or customers. Good luck though. You never know.

Darryl G
03-02-2010, 10:02 PM
Well if you got nothing else to do, go for it. But don't forget that you're depreciating your mower(s) and burning gas. It is costing you money. And what happens when you get busy and you're spending your time there volunteering your time when you could be making money?

With that said, I do sometimes mow the personal lawn of the Reverend of "our" church for free. I think the congregation provides the house, but he maintains it himself. It's a pretty big lawn, gotta be an acre and he does it with a 21 inch mower. He's probably 60ish and I'm sure it a chore for him. Well, I mow the house across the street, so if I look over and it looks like it's getting ahead of him, I'll run over on my Z and knock it out quick for him. But I don't get all the little nooks and crannies or trim or anything. There's some places I can't get my mower. I also will run over and do some of the bulk leaf cleanup with my bagger from him...there's a place to dump out back. I don't think I spent more than 4 hours total on it this last year. It's not like I'm providing full service, just helping out. I told his wife she can stop sending me a thank you card every time I do.

03-02-2010, 10:11 PM
I'd say if you are going to you need to commit to doing it for the mowing season regardless of how many clients it gets you, or does not get me.

Five Points
03-02-2010, 10:22 PM
I think if you want to mow it that is fine, but do it because you want to give something and not expect anything back from it. If you do that it will come back to you .

I cut my church, treat it like all my other properties. submit a bill at the end of the year. They cut a check and i sign the back and hand it right back and get a tax receipt. To me that is not exactly doing it for free, but it is good for both parties.

This year however a member had his back operated on and is out of commision for a while. I thought I would help out by cutting his grass and did the fall clean up all totataled about 300 worth of work I told him buy me a coffee some time. also did about the same thing for a lady in town whose husband died this year. Well we have not had much snow this year so its a bit tight. Lo and behold One day in the mail box was a gift card for $250 for groceries shows up. Some how someone knew we could use it.

I guess what I'm saying is cut the church because you want too, it will come back to you not in more accounts but maybe in a way you would never expect. If I help someone and they try and pay me I just tell them help out the next person.

03-02-2010, 10:25 PM
I'd say its a great idea, you're both doing something good for God by helping out the church, but you could also benefit from the job if the Church lets you do a little advertising.

If you wanted, you could even organize some "garden restoration days" or something with the congregation where you could buy some mulch, plants, etc. and install them with the help of the congregation to get to know the people at the Church and get your name out.

Even if you don't get any business from it, you'll know you're doing something good!

03-02-2010, 10:25 PM
I get paid (even good rates) for doing a church for the last 3 years. The property committee likes that they have a reliable person mowing, fert, and weed control.

They have asked for quotes for plowing as the person doing it for free doesn't always do it in a timely fashion (sometimes days). They keep saying he might be done plowing anytime so to be ready for a call.

I do some extra's like showing up for their spring clean up (they cleaning gutters and prune the shrubs). I provide some blowers and vacuum up the leaves and pruning with the mower. Mostly face time with members and they love not needing to pick the stuff up.

I mow 3 members yards and the local historical society grounds off of referrals of the church. It's not much and not the kind of work I'm looking for (I just want commercial stuff these days and don't take on resi's at all unless it is a referral).

Would I do it for free probably, not. Would I give a reasonable quote, yes. I wouldn't nickle and dime them either on little jobs.

03-02-2010, 10:28 PM
Amen, I agree with Five Points. If youre going to mow churches for free, do it out of kindness in youre heart, not to pick up customers

03-02-2010, 11:03 PM
i like what dj said about showing up on spring cleanup days. allows interaction with the congregation. allows the members to see your character and get to know you. it's also good way to help out and offer some of your expertise in the field. after spending time with you at one of these cleanup days a couple weeks or month down the road they may need work done or know of someone that needs work and they will remember that you came and cleanup around the church.

if you were to just stroll in and offer to mow the church for free, what happens when you can't do it anymore without collecting a check? surely you can't go on mowing these churches forever for free. i would think at some point you would have to start charging them for it or tell them they have to find someone else. i would just hate to be locked into doing it for free.

03-02-2010, 11:24 PM
you'll get some Big points from the MAN upstairs..........

Lawn Pawn
03-02-2010, 11:33 PM
Have done free lawn and loader work for our Holy Man.....

Has always offered to pay, but I have also told him this is as much as I am doing... the janitor or whom ever can finish it.
If I have a machine that can do work faster and better than by hand, you bet I'll use it and help out.... need no pay.

Hand work that anyone can do... let'em have at it.

And yes.... the good stuff always comes back around.

03-03-2010, 12:07 AM
i don't have a problem with you doing it. BUT if you really want to make an impact, go to your pastor and find out if there are some local elderly people in your church who could use your service.

trust me, older people will talk about that to anyone and everyone.

03-03-2010, 12:10 AM
great Idea actually its more of a benefit than you realize> you can actually come up with a price per cut and at the end of the year have them give you a receipt for tax write off churches are a great way to help with expense write offs

Southern Elegance
03-03-2010, 12:33 AM
been there done that. not much luck with picking up new customers, but felt good to b doing somthing nice. but i dont do anymore

03-03-2010, 12:50 AM
I'm always working for free for my invisible friends too. :)

03-03-2010, 01:45 AM
I don't do commercial properties for free....church or not. What I do is find out from a church that I attend from time to time is what elderly people need help and then we take care of them for free. We usually do 4 or 5 properties a year gratis. Word gets around the church and some members have turned me on to some very nice business which is great but, isn't it all about helping those that are in need without expecting anything in return? Karma is a good thing.

03-03-2010, 01:55 AM
Hey just my 2 cents.

My church that I have belonged to all my life has had some financial problems to say the least. Mainly because the area here is an older population and the congregation is slowly dying off and not enough new people are filling their shoes.

Anyway, my church has a part-time custodian and he couldn't keep up with the mowing, so I decided that I would take control of the property myself. I cut the lawn 26 times, did a mulch job that consisted of 20yards of mulch, 3 hedge cuttings, 6 fert applications, 2 fall clean-ups and 1 aeration. I did it because i wanted to. I asked my pastor and he was very grateful that I volunteered to do this. This actually turned out to be a great thing.

About half way through the season one of the elders gave me a key to the lower lot of the church which is all wooded area with a big drop off like a cliff. Told me I could utilize that area and dump all my grass clippings and lawn debris there for free.

I have gotten some side work out of it because they posted my good deed in the bulletin and people have actually called me because of it.

I also got a really nice tax write off at the end of the year.

Not to mention it made me feel good about myself. If your in a similar situation and have the time and devotion to do it. I say go for it. Good luck!

03-03-2010, 03:03 AM
I would do it like said above, If you want to do it for the common good, Id say go for it. If its only for the money, not saying you are, but it won't be very rewarding. I currently maintain two small residential properties for free and enjoy doing it.

Richard Martin
03-03-2010, 05:29 AM
I also got a really nice tax write off at the end of the year.

What are you writing off? Donated services are not deductible.

I cut my church, treat it like all my other properties. submit a bill at the end of the year. They cut a check and i sign the back and hand it right back and get a tax receipt. To me that is not exactly doing it for free, but it is good for both parties.

I'm not a religious man but I don't think the Lord would appreciate you using his house to deceive someone else.

03-03-2010, 06:15 AM
If you do it for free, see if you can put a small nice sign in the front garden "landscape services donated by XYZ"

but think about it for a moment. churches get tax free income...they are a business like any one else, IMO, and should be treated as such....

03-03-2010, 07:33 AM
What happens if you pick up alot of customers this year and find that you don't have time for free cuttings anymore? Are you going to say, sorry I have to charge you now, or I have no time for you?

Five Points
03-03-2010, 08:13 AM
If you have been blessed with more customers, may be think why that is.

Are you saying you would have time to cut it if you were being paid but not if it were for free.

My friends dad told me once a long time a go you will go further on nine tenths then you will on ten tenths. He was so right.

OSU 09
03-03-2010, 08:57 AM
I take care of my church landscape for free. I don't do it as a way of gaining business or building myself up, but as a way of giving something back to my community and my Lord.

1 Peter 4:10 "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."

03-03-2010, 09:19 AM
Yeah, when I think about it forget the money, that won't last long compared to eternal life you will gain by serving God. Do work for the Church, and try to find some elderly people to help out too, don't do it for the money, if jobs come thats great, but if they don't, don't worry about it. You will gain much more by serving God than you will by trying to gain money and wealth on this earth.

Being poor and close to God is better than being Rich and far from God, give to others by utilizing the gifts that God has given you, As OSU said...

1Peter 4:8-10 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms"

Matthew 19:23-24 :"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

03-03-2010, 09:50 AM
but think about it for a moment. churches get tax free income...they are a business like any one else, IMO, and should be treated as such....

Yes they don't have to pay taxes on donations but they must still claim them. The laws changed for churches in 2008 which requires better record keeping by them. They also must report any income paid to contractors, so for the ones who are reading this and thinking they could get by without claiming their income from churches, better think again. Last I knew, you can't claim your services as a donation, unless the church agrees ot it and gives you the proper paper work. My church will not let me donate my services, sure I could do it for free, but they will not count it as a donation.

03-03-2010, 09:50 AM
Definitely go for it. Do it because it's on your heart to cut it for free, not to get something back out of it financially. I cut our church for free as well as do clean ups, etc. It takes 3 guys about 2 hrs to cut. I honestly enjoyed it as a "wind down time" and still kind of do. I do get a letter of donated services for taxes but thats not why I do it. To the best of my knowledge, much of the congregation doesn't know I maintain the grounds.

I have been blessed with the equipment and knowledge to take care of the property better and faster than others. I look at it as it frees up a lot of money for the church and if everyone uses talents given to them the focus can be put on the true purpose of the church.

Hope it goes well for you!

Lawn Pawn
03-03-2010, 10:09 AM
Out of curiosity I just called my tax guy about donating services to churches...

Very short answer to a longer version he told me. All it does is create paperwork for both parties, and no benefits to either. May not be the same for your state.

03-03-2010, 11:37 AM
As for the tax thing..For Federal taxes...You can deduct your costs. labor, fuel, equipment.....wait.....you do that everyday, anyway. If a customer doesn't pay you...there's nowhere on the form to deduct profits that you didn't make, otherwise I'd deduct the 3 mill that I didn't make last year.

03-03-2010, 12:05 PM
I have thought about calling a church or VFW and asking if they have a member who could use free lawn service. I have never got around to doing it until today after reading this thread. I called a local VFW and offered my service to a vet in need. I'm not looking to generate any business from helping a veteran. I just want to help someone who made it possible for all of us to do what we do. I'm thankful for being able to live how I do today. I'm not rich by any means, but I'm in a much better position than many. For those who say never work for free. I wont be working for free, I'll be repaying a debt to someone who sacrificed for the freedom and lifestyles we all take for granted. Thanks Grass887 for the thread and do what YOU feel is the right thing to do.

03-03-2010, 12:32 PM
That was alot of reading. Thanks everyone for the replies, this will give me something to think about.

03-03-2010, 12:43 PM
Yeah, when I think about it forget the money, that won't last long compared to eternal life you will gain by serving God. Do work for the Church, and try to find some elderly people to help out too, don't do it for the money, if jobs come thats great, but if they don't, don't worry about it. You will gain much more by serving God than you will by trying to gain money and wealth on this earth.

so you don't do it for the expectation of money, you don't do it for the expectation of picking up new customers. You are doing it for the expectation of getting smiled upon by god and granting you access to heaven...

you don't need religion to give. Give for the joy of giving, not for ANY expectations, financial or spiritual.

03-03-2010, 08:46 PM
If you're wanting to help someone, why not go right to the source?

Ask these church leaders who they know who is old and infirm and can't afford a lawn service, and go mow that lawn for free.

Many churches have huge budgets and operate like businesses, complete with waste and bureacracy. Save them a few hundred bucks and it may wind up paying for a secretary, fancy choir robes, a new desk for an administrator, etc. (my desk is an old desktop laid on file cabinets. The ones at my parents' church cost big $$$, does that sound right to you?)

Or was your intent just to get a source of new business?

03-03-2010, 09:08 PM
I'll tell you this from a looooooooot of experience. I've been specializing in churches/cemetaries since 98' and have mowed quite a few churches. I have never received one single job from any of the congregation-You'd think after mowing the same church for 12 yrs, I'd get one job but not so. Everybody I talk to who mows churches says the same thing. I will tell you one other thing, the churches have screwed me over worse than any other customer I've ever had and I've never understood this. It's a nice gesture but the absolute wrong thing to do if you expect more work. You can take that to the bank. I just mow the one's I have and not expect a thing. If you want to give back, go work in a soup line and see the smiles........:):):):):):)

Turfcutters Plus
03-03-2010, 10:08 PM
you are totally nuts:hammerhead:

rain man
03-03-2010, 10:40 PM
This one is difficult. Mowed 15 churches for three years. I have done a good turn here and there but for the most part I like to get paid. I am surely not going to get into heaven by mowing them for Ephesians says "Not by works lest any man should boast".

03-03-2010, 10:59 PM
sorry but im not going to read everything. i read the first few posts but im going to post my thoughts and if it was covered already i apologize again! But #1 I have a few churches i do. I never got a call from any of the congregation. Now i refuse to do my own church because im very active in my church and very close to the head pastor and my church is my refuge. So if they dont pay on time or if my guys break something i dont want problems with the people that i goto when im in times of need. #2 i had a church that someone decided to do for free. It was a huge lot that i got 200 a week to cut an once a month another 200 for a lot they had in the back. Someone decided to do it for free and i took a 1000 a month loss. so that kind of sucked. BUT i do one of my pastors house for free because its part of my giving to my church besides my tithe. If your in this business to do favors go for it. Favors dont make money and usually arent good advertising anyway just somthing to think about.

03-03-2010, 11:36 PM
I cut my own congregations lawn as well as our parsonage. I submit a bill at the end of the year, they pay me then I cut them a check for the full amount back. I get a nice tax deduction and they save in their budget. I also mow another church for full price, $300 per cut, and I get compliments for my work from both.

However, I've never got any referals from either in the last five years. I don't know if that helps but that's what I can pass along to you.
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