Property and donations
In addition to tax revenue, parishes fund their work by selling forest, collecting rent, taking up collections and accepting bequests.
Parish real estate and land ownership
In total, parishes and parish unions own some 168,500 hectares of land, of which 162,500 hectares is forest. Forestry is indeed an important source of income for many parishes. In areas with national conservation programmes, parishes have parcelled out land to the Finnish government for nature conservation purposes. Another source of income for many parishes is renting out plots and selling building sites in planned areas.
Parishes manage their property holdings independently. In total, parishes own about 800 church buildings, of which roughly three quarters are protected because they have cultural and historical significance. Many church buildings and environments are classified as cultural heritage sites of national significance. Parishes own about 280 cemetery chapels in total. In addition to churches and chapels, all parishes also have other premises used for various purposes. Parishes also own residential buildings.
The cost of maintaining buildings is high, and energy saving and climate goals must be taken into consideration when they are used. For these reasons, many parishes have drawn up plans stating their aim to focus their efforts on maintaining buildings central to their parish identity and selling off buildings that they have little use for.
A collection is a voluntary gift of money offered at a service or mass, the sum of which is gathered in a dedicated collection bag and determined by the person himself or herself. Finns are eager to give alms: collections and other gatherings bring in almost 10 million euros annually.
Collections are often gathered for the parish’s work, for example going towards youth work, but also for international aid work and missionary work. In 2016, parishes were instructed to take additional collections particularly for international aid work.
A bequest is a beautiful way to help both locally and internationally. Parishes receive funding also through bequests in wills: in 2015, parishes received a total of 2.5 million euros in bequests.
These days, many people also will money to charitable organisations.