Plastic Buying and Vendors    0114-02   ZZall

                                                                               - - - Rejoice in the Lord always ... again I say Rejoice !!! - - -

                            TO:  Interested Ministries                                                                                                            FROM: Jim Bramer, Retired Auditor-CPA     
                                                                                                                                                                                       FILE: 0114-02/all

                            RE:  Credit Card or Plastic Buying and Vendors                                                                   Originated in April 1994                                                       

      Below is a transcript of another hypothetical Online conversation, or THRD, between  and members of a M)inistry F)inance T)eam - MFTeam: the MFTeam members consist of ... PAT (Ministry Executive), LEE (Volunteer Board Treasurer), and FRAN (Ministry Computer Bookkeeper).  


        Pat, please be sure that we discuss the prospect of you improving the process of reflecting your bills when they are incurred; as expressed in ' Beyond the Bank Balance'    You also might find the following content of interest:    eFinFax   article and  also when you  Click Here  and  Here.

        One of your financial stewardship objectives is to provide complete and up-to-date financial information to those who should know. This includes the reflection of all income received and expenses incurred (Accrual Basis of Accounting) as of a certain point in time.   Since we know your Ministry, Pat, we recommend that you use the QuickBooks Pro (QBs) computer systems which cleanly allows you to record Plastic, or Credit Card, purchases upon their occurrence.

  Further, that you purchase all items via Plastic, or the Credit Card -- and reflect them within the QBs System. Almost all vendors these days (including the US Post Office) allow you to purchase via Plastic; or no longer allow staff/volunteers to purchase on credit at such local places as: Hardware Store; Christian Book Store; Stationery stores, etc. Like any other vendor charge accounts, your Plastic Card is to be paid interest free each month.   Also pursue the use of Plastic to do the eCHECK process whereby checks are written for you and get into your accounting system via such processes are provided by the electronic eFinFax  system.

        You should be able to more thoroughly restrict staff members/volunteers users of Plastic as compared to authorized charge account signors.  REMINDER:   A major aspect of all of this is to control spending and NOT MAKE PURCHASING CONVENIENT.  Ask us about the means to inform the individual merchant that it is OK for a volunteer to use a staff member's Plastic.  




    Appropriately place remote orders using Plastic. By the way, did you read the cartoon whereby Johnny was asked by his Teacher if he could tell her what a Plastic Surgeon is.  Johnny said he was a Surgeon who takes Credit Cards."

    Staff members/volunteers "MUST" give Plastic or Credit Card purchase slips to the Bookkeeper for immediate entry within QBs. The QBs System includes a nice way of reconciling these purchases to the monthly Plastic Statement.  You also might embrace such a system outlined when you  Click Here.

    We also recommend that Utilities and Phone bills (as well as other repetitive expenses) be booked within the QBs System upon receipt and then paid, along with the Plastic purchases, via a Online Bill Payment (as now provided via Intuit) system at the chosen time of the month.

    Since you use QBs, you can replace almost the entire multiple Vendor's Payable process by using their Plastic/Credit Card accounting features.  In general, we recommend that you do not use QBs Vendors Payable system and your QBs entry begins with writing the check, etc.

     It is important for the MFTeam to have a current and complete financial picture by knowing how much is owed and what impact the unpaid bills have upon operations. Please consider the following:

        1>   Certain bills (Phone bills, Utilities, etc) are booked within QBs when they arrive, or you do preliminary check processing .... then decide when to date and release the checks.
        2>    In place of a number of local Vendor Charge Accounts, we recommend that you use Plastic for authorized charges ... most all vendors now accept Plastic. This facilitates the need for Ministry volunteers to have some type of pre-authorization (see below as to Purchase Orders, or P.O.s) for Ministry charges at local stores; especially in a Church setting.

    The Ministry Plastic is given by the Ministry Purchasing Agents to authorized volunteers who return the charge slip and the Plastic (often the next Sunday, etc. in a Church setting) where immediate entry can go into the QBs system. Plus, there is the aspect that the Ministry needs to write only one monthly Plastic check regardless of how many vendors were involved.  Also be aware of  Debit Card  matters when you Go Here and as discussed when you  Click Here  .

          FR: PAT

    What about the use of Purchase Orders, P.O.?  Seems this is common process that we should consider.


    Yes, P. O. s are often used in this scenario. But we believe that effective control of PLASTIC can accomplish the same thing ..... namely, pre-approval of purchases.  When you have buying done by both staff and volunteers it is a "process extra awful"  to get them all to comply with the necessary P.O. protocol.  Since the staffer or volunteer (this is a specially sensitive area within Churches and other Ministries) has to obtain Plastic from the authorizing person in order to buy said approved item, we believe a Ministry is accomplishing to same thing, but in a slightly different manner.  Please Click Here  and  Here  for some more info along these lines.

   Sometimes the Volunteer buys things using their own resources and wants to make this a donation.  Such transactions need to flow through the books for two reasons: 1> The leadership needs to know what the activity really costs  2> The donor needs a donations receipt.  Ask us about the need for a special check request form as the Ministry writes a check to itself and this check made payable to the Ministry is processed along with all of the other Donations as a credit to the Volunteer/Donor, etc.  Also our Finance Policies  publication state that a volunteer is limited to $100.00 only of buying and then seeking reimbursement.


    OK,  but I do not feel comfortable getting into a PLASTIC scenario; somehow it does not ring true to me. Plus our Ministry is kinda  'out in the country' and it would place an extra burden on volunteers to ensure return of the PLASTIC and receipt.


    I find your response interesting, Pat. I know that there are Credit Card abuses and concerns 'out there', but, like a lot of resources in life, there should be the "USE" emphasis and not the "MIS-USE"  Plastic use should be a controlled TOOL and not an uncontrolled TYRANT.  The debt issue can be resolved by the Church paying off the Credit Card balance weekly -- ask us at for more info..

    Control of purchases is the major theme here as to charge accounts at local vendors, especially among Ministry volunteers.   Advance authorization of purchases is the real issue.

    Seems that a Ministry's location, or maybe logistics, is a minor issue. The major issue is Financial internal control as a Ministry volunteer appropriately provides documentation (receipt, in this case) and returns the Plastic. For further information, please Go Here   

     Please fill me in a little more from your perspective on this ... I need to know a little more as to "where you are coming from", Pat. 


    OK,  I can see your point, Jim. Maybe I am overreacting from the general people mis-use of Credit Cards that we hear so much about.  Thank you for mentioning that we could pay off our Credit Card balance weekly,  or more frequently that at month end.
    Let me review this more with our folk here..... will get back to you if we have questions.

  This was updated last on June 07, 2012 Click here and go to List of threads (THRDs) at