Some of you may wonder, or hope to never learn, what it is that your Financial Secretary does on a weekly basis. Over the past 18 months my focus has been to modify the financial processes of the Church to better fit our goals of using our resources wisely and avoiding unnecessary waste. We do a pretty good job of managing our financial resources, but still have some work to do in terms of reducing waste.
Historically our financial processes had been set up for all the necessary folks to be in the building one day per week, and so driving costs (in time and resources) were not a consideration. In recent years maintaining this setup required multiple people to make trips to the building one or more days per week, which they may not otherwise have made, to handle paper checks. Once I understood the processes well enough, I switched to paying all the bills we could through our bank’s bill-pay system. This system allows us to require a second approver before bills are paid, which maintains compliance with good practices and our policies. I have also encouraged our vendors to send us invoices through email, which cuts down on paper waste and saves time.
Next, I focused on reducing the amount of duplicate work being done. We had been making weekly bank deposits which involved typing contribution information into a spreadsheet which was then sent to our bookkeeper (Sue Warren) for entry into our accounting software (PowerChurch). I found that I could enter the contributions directly to PowerChurch more quickly than I could create the spreadsheet, which eliminates a step. I also found that we don’t need to make deposits weekly, and so this is now being done less often which results in fewer drives to the bank. We had multiple processes every month which relied on someone creating a spreadsheet for Sue to type into PowerChurch, and it is often easier and quicker to do this entry directly for Sue to review.
We receive contributions mostly via paper check or cash, but also through Tithe.ly. In recent months I have been working on our processes for recognizing Tithe.ly contributions and think I’m close to a workable system which takes less time and is easier to reconcile. We’re also starting to look into alternatives to Tithe.ly which might better integrate with PowerChurch.
My next goal is to switch payroll for our employees to electronic payments. This will require help from the congregation, because there will be a monthly cost (estimated at less than $50). The Financial Committee will suggest this be added to the budget for the coming fiscal year as part of payroll costs. Currently Sue prints our payroll checks and drives them to the Church once per month (or sometimes more often). Check signers also need to arrive at church before 9am on payroll Sunday to sign the checks or make a special trip on Saturday. We established this 9am deadline because we don’t want our staff to have to wait around for checks to be signed after service, as had sometimes previously been the case. To be clear, while the budget would need to change to recognize the cost for electronic payments to staff, we are already incurring this cost through donation of time and resources. As is often the case in organizations which rely on volunteers, our budget underestimates the resources required to run the Church.
For those of you who might be interested in the details, I’ve included my checklist. It changes almost every month as I learn more but helps me to keep track of what needs to be done.
If you have any questions about our finances, please feel free to contact the Financial Committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org
— Kevin Sweeney (he/him)
— Financial Secretary