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.
What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t keep the IRS in mind when issuing Giving Statements or something to acknowledge gifts? Well…the IRS could disallow the donors charitable tax deduction which would lead them to have to pay more taxes. This would probably lead to a ticked off donor who will likely share this with other donors. You’ve basically discouraged anyone from wanting to give too generously to your church.
It really isn’t that hard to keep the IRS happy. All you need to do is properly document the gift (what did they give, who did they give it too, when did they give it) and include a simple statement that the donor didn’t receive any goods or services in exchange for the gift except for intangible religious benefits. You can sneak these element in and still have a nice “Thank you.”
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.
This was from a training that I did in the Fall of 2019 for United Methodist churches in Southeastern South Dakota. While most finance committees focus on reviewing reports and looking at cutting expenses, some are making a huge impact in helping their churches succeed. They are growing the church’s income, improving operations/decision making, and much more.
How are they making such an impact? The gist is, they staff the finance committee with the right people and set goals. It’s not that complex. I also give some ideas on how to fix the income problem, reporting, auditing, and budgeting. Enjoy!
The old “Grow One” Step Chart has been around for a long time. A number of churches have distributed a chart similar to this one during their pledge card or stewardship drive. The Step Chart actually was very convicting to me and led me to start tithing. The Step Chart is great for personally conviction, but not a great for assessing the success of growing generous givers.
When working with churches that are struggling financially, I developed a tool based on the Step Chart to help see if their people were growing or shrinking or staying the same in their giving. This is a tool to convict church leaders that they have an income problem…a generosity problem…and not an expense problem. This can also be a tool to provide comfort if you are growing generous givers, but the finances are still tight. Here’s how: