Another topic I regularly teach is Accountable Reimbursement Plans. I used to think of this as a pretty straight forward topic, but I’m an accountant. I think in accounting rules…debits, credits, etc. The best part of this presentation is that chart for figuring out if mileage is commuting or business. This would also be a good one for church treasurers to review as they also have the same questions.
I just ran across one of my pet peeves…the duplicate vendor. Whenever I run across one, it makes me feel like I’m being careless and sloppy. How could this happen. Just accept it that duplicate vendors happen and now let’s fix it.
I’m sure other church software systems have their own way of fixing this. Some you are forced to to just inactivate the vendor you don’t want. With QuickBooks, the fix is not at all intuitive…which is kind of ironic. You have to name the duplicates the exact same thing.
One of the things I take pride in is keeping accurate accounting records and reporting anything that’s out of the ordinary. Something that undermines this is when I accidentally post something to a past period that I’ve already reported on. Unexplained transactions posted in the past makes you look like you’re playing fast and loose with the books.
I don’t know if this is a change in accounting philosophy, but it seems like newer accounting systems assume that closing the books is optional. For QuickBooks Online, you need to dig around in the Account Settings…which I’ll show you in the video. I’ll also show you how to void a check in a closed period…which is needlessly complicated.
Finishing up my 30-day free trial of QuickBooks Online. This is the last tip I wanted to throw out. If you’re not using Sub-Accounts in QuickBooks, your reporting is lacking. The only way I know how to get robust reporting for a church is to use Sub-Accounts. Sub-Accounts let you better organize your accounts. They let you show detailed or summarized reports. They let you easily setup custom reports for specific ministries.
I am a believer that many churches’ future is determined by their chart of accounts. The chart of accounts shape the church leaderships view of their finances and affect their decisions. A confusing chart of accounts leads to confused decisions. I know there are many exceptions, but the chart of accounts is one of the hidden forces either helping or harming your decision-making ability.
Sheri Meister (Executive Director of the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation) and I identify three steps in this video to cleaning up your chart of accounts. 1)Cleaning up the old stuff by either chucking it or renaming it; 2)Making sure every account has an owner; and 3)Using the roll-up (sub-account) abilities of your accounting system. Do these things, and you will greatly help your leadership in making good decisions.
I’m still working in my 30-day free trial of Non-Profit QuickBooks Online. One of the first challenges I’ve helped churches work through is how you handle all those church funds. I’ve seen two good solutions: 1)Track it all in the Equity section or 2)Track it in Equity AND Other Income. I show you this in the video below.
As an after thought, I wonder if it would work to set them up in the Liability section? Would this be better? It might help the church leaders see the obligation related to holding these funds.
Churches might avoid QuickBooks because they think they will need a separate system to track donations. Most church accounting programs have a module for accounting and a separate module for keeping the giving records. For years, the rumor was that you could track giving records in QuickBooks…and that rumor is true! I played around in QuickBooks and changed some settings, and it worked pretty slick. For very large churches, they may need a more robust system like Fellowship One or Church Community Builder, but for the majority of churches, that’s not necessary. They don’t need a system to track and communicate with members. They just need something that will give them a statement for each donor.
Below is my quick and fairly successful attempt at tracking donations in QuickBooks: