By Tim Vaughn
The COVID-19 pandemic creates many layers of uncertainty in our lives. For pastors and lay leaders, some of that uncertainty exists in conducting the normal, business operations of church life. Stay-at-home orders with cancellations of worship gatherings and administrative meetings leave us physically disconnected from those that normally assist in making our church finances run like clockwork. With the duration of physical distancing unknown, easily implementable technology can be used to virtually manage your church’s finances. I have five tips that will ease this burden. As a bonus, these changes will save you time and leave you with more efficient financial processes in any situation, not just for a crisis.
1) Use Online Accounting Software
If your books are located on a computer at the church office, it requires you to make a special trip to enter new transactions or access records. What if, for example, the children’s ministry director needs to know how much remains in her budget? Or, what if another leader needs to make a quick distribution from the benevolence fund? By hosting your books in the cloud, you can access your records from any location and give quick, real-time answers. Most online accounting software companies have tools that you can use to transfer some of your historical data into the new application.
Recommended Tools: Quickbooks Online, Xero or Aplos
2) Use a Management App for Credit Card Expenses and Reimbursements
As an administrative pastor, I remember the tedious process of collecting receipts for the transactions on our church’s monthly credit card bill. I needed the account code for each expense and the receipt for a paper trail. There’s now technology that completely eliminates this process. Cardholders upload the receipt to the app, match it to the transaction downloaded from the credit card company and submit it with other transactions on a report. The report is then synced to your accounting software. The same app can be used for collecting the paperwork needed for reimbursements.
3) Go Paperless with Your Financial Records
By simply eliminating the paper trail of financial records you could be saving oodles of time and energy. If you have stacks of papers on your desk, shoved in drawers or even in some sort of filing cabinet, chances are you’re still scrambling to locate things when you need them. Uploading all of your financial records to your computer means you can quickly access and share important information when necessary. If going digital seems overwhelming, start off small by scanning a small number of items until you feel more comfortable.
4) Handle Payroll and HR Efficiently
Every business needs an HR department, but most small organizations don’t have the bandwidth to internally house one. With powerful online tools you can do everything a real, live HR department would do. Paying your team on time with direct deposit, onboarding new employees, supplying income tax forms, and everything else necessary to support your employees can be done effortlessly online.
5) Make the Check Approval Process Less Cumbersome
If you stress about bill payments—receiving payments or making them—worry no more. With the right online software you can quickly and easily manage the approval process and electronically send payments. Efficiently deal with your accounts receivable and payable in one place while integrating it to work with your chosen accounting software.
About the Author Tim Vaughn is the owner of BeMissional Finance LLC—a virtual accounting firm dedicated to assisting churches with their bookkeeping and payroll needs. He lives in Durham, NC with his wife and three children.
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Photo by bongkarn thanyakij