Should Pastors know what people are giving?

Why would a pastor want to see the giving records for a church? Generally speaking, your pastor DOES NOT want to see the giving records, but they believe they need to see the giving records to lead well. Very few pastors that I’ve met want to see the giving records out of curiosity or to schmooze the big donors. The topic of money makes the uncomfortable and they don’t want to be seen in the same light as Kenneth Copeland.

Unless your pastor has proven themselves untrustworthy with sensitive information, chances are knowing how people give will help them lead better. They’ll know which members are all talk verses those that are fully invested in the mission of the church. They’ll be better able to care for their people if there is a change in giving.

Check out the video below:

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SumProduct Function for Allocations

This is blog already caters to a very niche group of people, but this post is probably for a niche of the niche…niche2. I’m kind of an Excel nerd. My primary language, the first tool I go to for any problem is Excel. When other people want to send out mass emails, they sign up for Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. I made a spreadsheet to do this.

I had kind of dismissed the SUMPRODUCT function as pretty much irrelevant and useless until one day while helping a church with a Narrative Budget. I was trying to allocate budget lines based on certain percentages in adjacent columns using my regular method when it hit me: Is this the job SUMPRODUCT was intended for? It worked beautifully so that’s why I’m sharing it with you. It saves a lot of time and reduces the risk of errors.

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Making your Excel Reports Prettier

The sad truth is that often looks do matter. You might have a wonderfully accurate report with plenty of meaningful insights in it, but sometimes the formatting, or lack there of, can cause people to miss those insights or even dismiss your report. Why is that? For numbers people, usually their eyes are searching for those insights. They are looking for meaning in the numbers. For everyone else, they need help in knowing where to look. Formatting can do that. They also have a lack of trust in numbers and a more professional look can help them trust more. I know this doesn’t make sense to a numbers person, but that’s life.

There’s nothing fancy in this video. Just some basic formatting and page layout tips. I go through it pretty quick because it is quick and easy. In five minutes, you can easily transform a report from plain to…more or less professional.

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3 Principles that will Transform your Church Budget

Gallup did a poll some years back and found that 33% of households kept a formal budget. The adopting and living by a budget is really the first step for anyone wanting to feel more secure in their finances. The same is true for the church. While the vast majority of churches adopt a budget, few live by that budget. Why is that? Because most of them adopt a bad budget. The budget is usually unrealistic, doesn’t support the church’s vision, and feels like a waste of effort.

In our work with churches, Sheri Meister and I have identified three principles that will change the way you budget.

  1. Know your bottom line: You’re not the Federal Government so you can’t spend money you don’t have.
  2. Include your long-term goals: You should be looking forward to more than just surviving the year.
  3. Tell your story in numbers AND words: Go through the exercise of creating a narrative budget.

The first two will honestly be the most difficult and bring the most resistance. You will have to push forward because your church’s financial future depends on it.

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Memorial Tracking Spreadsheet

We have so many fantastic churches in the Dakotas UMC. One of them that has been a huge help to me personally is Yankton First UMC. They’ve given me some great experiences and wisdom…and now a new tool to share with you. It’s a clever spreadsheet that allows you to easily track Memorials or other small, short-lived funds. The reason you use a spreadsheet is so you don’t clutter up your chart of accounts. You can have one account in your books for Memorials, and this spreadsheet would then break that amount down.

Most of us bookkeepers do this. Here’s a screen shot of one that I used to keep at Bismarck First UMC. It worked…but it’s not pretty. Also, I could never give someone a printout to show them the balances unless I wanted them to see my mess. That’s why I really like Yankton First UMC’s spreadsheet.

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How to reimburse employee health costs…LEGALLY

For those of us that are a little older, we remember when the pastor was on the denomination’s health insurance, and the only other health benefit was if the church decided to reimburse an employee for premiums. And then Obamacare happened. Obamacare changed a lot of things. One of the negative changes is that these very informal reimbursement agreements became taxable. Soon after the election of President Trump, a loophole opened up that allows reimbursements in a very regulated way. This loophole is QSEHRA (I pronounce it Q-Sara).

Here’s the gist of it.

  • Almost all churches can use this.
  • Need to offer the same amount to all eligible employees (except can discriminated based on age and family status).
  • Need to adopt a Plan Document (template below in the links).

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Merging Accounts in QuickBooks

One of my pet peeves: old accounts cluttering up my financial reports. As the ministry or business operations evolve, this is naturally reflected in the chart of accounts. The problem is when you don’t know how to clean it up. I walk you through cleaning up old accounts through merging them.

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