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Jim Bramer, Retired
RE: J I Ms J R N L for the month of March 2007 FILE: 0203-07/jrnl
(Click Here for "Blogger like" perspective/rationale)
To help your Ministry
Finance Team be more effective plus assist
to Control their Spending
RESOURCES: 1st Website and 2nd Website
00 - Designated Donations for a "General Purpose Fund" Department (00)
Maybe at your Church you have encountered a situation where someone (like a Parent/Grand-Parent of a Teenager who is so very very appreciative of your Ministry to their child, but they might not be a part of the Church) wants to make a donation for the Youth Department which is funded via the .General Purpose Fund. Or the Church's policy is that there is no approved Special Purpose Fund for a Church's Operating Department. Or perhaps someone wants to contribute to a project that the Church's Board of Leadership has not approved in advance. What follows is a proposed Board of Leadership approved process for handling such requests:
01> You deposit the money and distribute to the Church's Suspense Account. You do NOT hold this as Undeposited until the matter is resolved.
02> You process a letter (or Email, if applicable) to the Donor in the name of your Church Treasurer
03> Such letter could include such information as:
--- Encourage the Donor as much as possible ... thank them for their interest and donation etc etc etc
--- But carefully explain the Church Finance policy about donor restricted donations
--- And explain that the Operating Departments are funded by the General Fund and why.
--- Plus that all tax deductible Restricted Funds must be approved in advance by the Board of Leadership
--- Such funds can NOT be established by donors alone, etc.
--- You provide a list of existing approved Restricted Funds ... including the various Youth Scholarship Funds, etc
--- Or a similar Funds that you think might appeal to the Donor, etc.
--- Then ask the Donor where they would like to re-designate their donation.
--- Offer to have Church Bookkeeper provide more info by phone, if needed
04> Returning the money to the Donor is a possibility, but it might be best to not mention this option.
05> Once a decision is made by the Donor, then money is moved thereto from Suspense Account, etc.
01 - Fellow CPA who is a Ministry CFO (Chief Financial Officer) (01)
TO: CPA Marty xxxxxxx FROM: Jim Bramer
RE: Observations DATE xx/xx/xxxx
You are a very capable CPA professional, Marty ...... you obviously have training, experience and people skills from which to build. You do a good job of expressing yourself and getting your point across. Since you are now serving on the staff of XYZ Ministry, my prayer is that this memo, from this 'ol codger' fellow CPA-Auditor Consultant, will encourage you to function effectively as a Ministry Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with even further professional excellence as unto the Lord.
You guessed it, Marty .. this memo has the same theme that we discussed recently ---- namely, that you discover how to be less of a financial "transaction processor" and more of a trainer/teacher and a "result of transactions interpreter" and rightfully analyze the ""Big Picture." My definition of a Ministry CFO is the Ministry staff person whose primary tasks include such things as - - - -
>> Concentrate on being both even a better Communicator and also an Interpreter ---- granted you need to do a portion of the other work to intelligently be of service, but, in my view, the real professional value of serving as a Ministry CFO is for you to help others understand what has happened financially (past history) and the financial consequences of projected plans (probable future).Adhere to the following truism, or principle: "Enter a verified number once, then the system replicate it in the appropriate manner." Too often, I find that numbers are inefficiently entered, posted, transferred, combined and reported. Use the many fine tools and resources (primarily computer systems) to maximize this truism.
>> Exercise the fine art of "this financial info does not look quite right ... let's look into that more deeply"; thereby insuring the decision makers of reliable financial reports for wise judgment.
>> Know about and utilize contemporary computer systems that reduce the amount of paper that is processed in accomplishing your job as a ministry finance practitioner.
>> Focus on being an instructor/trainer of less qualified people than yourself as they do the processor or historian tasks so you can zero in on being the professional that you are. The emphasis is to be sure that things are done the way you want them done, but not necessarily do them yourself. Believe me, most of the time it is NOT efficient to do it yourself and "make sure it is done 100% right." For example, if three people were following your instructions and doing it just 90% "right", think of how much more is getting done by all of you.
I wish you well, as you serve Him, Marty!!
02 - Online Ministry Finance Applications - (02)_
Below is a grid of possible "Ministry Finance Online Applications." It seems that Web Based uses are becoming more and more applicable to Christian Ministries and they effectively utilize the Internet as a resource in managing their finances. Please note that the columns to the left of the grid below speak to the known use, or non-use, of that application.
xx The application shown below is apparently not available xx The application shown below is apparently available - Please Click on highlighted Internet links below for more info Generic To: Church
Scrip MAgency Camp xx Web Based Acctg via Online Volunteers - 0930 xx xx xx xx xx xx Fund Accounting - 0801 -- Also see 0041 xx xx xx xx xx xx Receipts via the Internet - see applicable info at: 0907 xx xx xx xx xx Actual to Budget by Depart Acctg Groups (DAGs) xx xx xx xx xx xx Budget via BuxBox Expense Control - 0002 xx xx xx xx xx xx DAGer view only Budget report/tranx detail info xx xx xx xx xx xx ePayroll - with Clergy aspects -Paycycle xx xx xx xx xx Complete and process time sheets Online xx xx xx xx xx xx eBill Management - 0926 xx xx xx xx xx xx Internal eAuditor and Board Treasurer view only xx xx xx xx xx xx External eAuditor access/view so they can do things during the year - like viewing tranx xx xx xx xx xx and do confirmations : Unique to: Churches 5109 xx Counters and eDonation do record keeping - 5888 xx xx eDonaMail - see ASPs in 0078 xx Schools xx eSchar (School Acct Rec) application - 7888 xx xx School and Outsourcer both have equal access to current info -- see 7888 for details xx xx Parents/Students have Online access to eSchar info xx xx They pay via CrCard or Elec Funds Transfers (EFTs) xx Scrip Store (1) 0188 xx Improve Merchandise Inventory Management xx
Do Buyer Residual Accounting - like Fund Acctg xx xx Buyer view amount of Residual Balance xx xx Buyer find available inventory to buy Online xx xx Make purchase or place order xx xx Pay via Credit Card or EFT xx xx Arrange for delivery or pickup xx Mission Agencies 8888-
eDonaMail - see WEB references in 0078 xx xx Staffer have unique access to eDonaMail file portion xx xx Staffer sends "thank you ltrs with receipt" or make mailings xx xx for their own support or for a Mission Project xx Camps/Conferences. xx Groups like Schools/Churches make and pay for eReservations xx xx Individual Camper make and pay for eReservations xx
03 - The "Ten +Two" Annual Budget Comparison Method (03)
I am looking at a columnar worksheet that I obtained recently at a "Church's Annual Budget Committee" meeting. The staff and volunteers had carefully placed in these columns data by type of needed expenses by Church Department from only the following sources: 01- One column for Previous Years Budget information (or what was approved a year ago for the current year) and 02- a Second column showing the requested, or ultimately authorized, expense for the upcoming new year. This worksheet also included percentage of this year to next year - or how much did the new budget increase/decrease, etc.
My experience is that the best point of comparison for this effort, and the ultimate approval report, is what I call the "Ten + Two" method. Or, since the new year's budget approval endeavor happens during the Church's 11th and 12th months of their current fiscal year, you take what has actually happened through the 10 months and then you estimate what has approved to happen the remaining 2 months of this year. This timing is necessary because next year's annual budget is approved by the Congregation during the latter part of this year's 12th month, etc.
If you use only the approved/granted 12 month Budget data, as developed/approved a year ago (or you do NOT make use of the "Ten + Two" data), then you are potentially making new year budget decisions on inaccurate, incomplete and likely misleading information. Things are different than when the budget was approved a year ago; all too often there have been significant operational changes during the past year that MUST be considered for the new operational year. In other words, the Church Budget Committee's worksheets should provide columnar data by Church Department and by type of said expenses in the following format:
Column 1: Amounts granted a year ago
Column 2: Ten + Two - see definition above
Column 3: New approved grants for the upcoming new operational year. The applicable percent of this year's Increase, or decrease, should be to Column 2 data.
Some Budget Committees find helpful information to include what has actually happened during as many as the previous two years. Please note that I did not say "what was approved in advance for these years", but, again, the emphasis should be on "historical" approved data and not "projected" approved data. The editorial content found in 0910 and 0909 might also be of interest.
04 - "Yes" I'm an Onliner, but "No" I'm not a good "Money Record Keeper" (04)
An "Onliner" is one who daily goes to the Internet for email, research or for whatever meaningful purpose. I often reference this person as "Internet Centric", or "Internet Friendly." As an "Onliner", you might also be comfortable using the Internet to efficiently do buying and/or paying your bills. Please Click Here for a list of vendor types and how you might buy therefrom ,etc. You are comfortable, at any time, using the Internet to do such things as the following:
>> You online buy using your Debit or Credit Cards
>> You online pay as many of your other bills as possible
>> You access/view your Bank Statements equivalent
>> You access/view your Credit Card Statements equivalent
But most significantly , you are an "Onliner" who does NOT do well at doing your "Money Record Keeping" (or Bookkeeping) either manually or using such computer systems as Money, Quicken or even QuickBooks.
But you are convinced that it is "ESSENTIAL FOR YOU TO KNOW WEEKLY IF YOU HAVE APPLICABLE MONEY TO SPEND." Within this "I must do" context, we recommend something like the described method when you Click Here. as you righteously do your spending.
Let me know at Jim@bcidot.org if you, as such an "Onliner", would like more information.
05 - Contemporary Board and Committees - (05)
As we all know, such groups have traditionally met on a monthly basis and are mostly made up of non-staffers or volunteers. This includes both "Ministry Boards" themselves plus their sub-committees like their "Ministry Finance Team". Now more are shifting to meeting every other month -- or even quarterly -- and in-between the formal meetings, such groups continue to function effectively as they save time and costs by making full use of Internet resources as they do the essential inter-acting plus they access needed information, etc. Ways to do this might include the following:
01> They make much more use of Email -- very few Board/Committee members these days do NOT use Email. Click Here re a possible Email "Polling" method.
02> Needed information is posted on a web site (with appropriate privacy and restrictions) where information can be either simply viewed or downloaded. There is no need to Snail mail (saving time and costs) or even attaching files to Emails.
03> They make more use of either viewable or verbal only conference call sessions; or they meet Online for the necessary collaboration at the appointed time and do not travel.
04> A modification of this way of getting together could be a free Yahoo/Google Forum used only for internal 'interaction', or a Forum within your own website. The advantage to this Forum approach is that you do not need to "call a meeting" or you can participate according to your own schedule since you are not together all at the same time - kinda like the "Polling" mentioned above. Click Here for an example of such a free Yahoo Forum. While you could apply some limitations, the major disadvantage is that some data would not be entirely private, etc.
05> As they discuss certain topics, they can link to applicable website contents (either the Ministry's website or others). Plus there is the overall plus in having documents for future reference.
06> They could convert data to graphics for even better communication and/or understanding. This could include use of: (1) - data in the PDF format, (2) - Power-Point means and (3) - Flow Charts, etc.
Within context of this Link Contents , I trust your Ministry Finance Team, especially, is effective as you appropriately use such "Contemporary" resources as you collaborate Online rather than always meeting together in the same room, etc..
06 - Replicating Ministries - (06)
I define "Replicating Ministries" as those whose primary purpose is to serve other Ministries and most of their Income comes from the Ministries they serve --- not the Christian public. Please see examples include:
- Church and Associational Headquarters
- Evangelical or Inter-denominational Foreign Mission Assns
- Christian Management Assn (CMA);
- Association of Christian Schools, International (ACSI);
- Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability (ECFA).
- Camps - especially denominational.
Another type of "Replicating Ministries" are those where your long term investment is turned around and re-invested in another Ministry's capital - like Land and Buildings. Examples are Credit Unions and/or other groups like California Plan of Church Finance who gather funds and turn around and invest it into such capital assets.My personal persuasion is that on-going operational expenses of a Ministry should be funded by its current constituency or supporters -- should not be via former members upon their death (Estate Income). Plus I believe that only Ministry projects should be funded via Grants from Endowments or Foundations. Please Click Here for some more insight on this. Often "Replicating Ministries" are postured for projects, but their constituent Ministries can not help them financially that often -- which, again, points us in the direction of appropriate income from Wills-Estates, Endowments and/or Foundations. When this is done, the money is "multiplied" (or shall I say they do Double Duty) to more than a single Ministry and it is not just to the support of a single Ministry's General/Operating Fund or to the deputized support of a Ministry's Staff Member. See the content of 0044 for more information on this over-all topic.
No doubt, upon inquiry, any "Replicating Ministries" would be pleased to inform any Endowment or Foundation, or a person doing Estate Planning, of its needs.
Chairperson, Suggestions To 0085-01 ZZall
07 - Suggestions to the Meeting's Chairperson - (07)
These suggestions could pertain to the Chairperson of any Ministry Board or Committee, but, of course, our emphasis is the "Ministry Finance Team" The Chairperson is the key to getting the job done! The "Ministry Finance Team" will function according to this person's leadership. The group will be responsive, address relevant issues and meet needs to the degree the Chairperson gives effective leadership and direction. Please consider the following PLEASE DO and PLEASE DO NOT suggestions.
01. Work up meeting agenda with the Ministry Officials in advance of the meeting itself. 02. Provide members with written agenda in advance. 03. Start promptly even if members are late (they'll soon learn you'll start on time). 04. Lead courteously yet firmly to insure that everyone is heard. 05. A consensus of the members is very significant; if not possible, be sure all have opportunity to express themselves. 06. Be sure the "Ministry Finance Team" meetings and activity dates are calendarized. 07. Personally maintain posture of independence so views of others will be expressed. 08. Be "goal-oriented" so that issues and needs are defined and targeted. 09. Insist on the appropriate blend of fellowship and business during the meeting. 10. Contribute to a clear understanding of the real issues and needed resolutions 11. Be sure "Ministry Finance Team" actions are documented for both future reference and appropriate follow through.
PLEASE DO NOT:
A> Wait until the last minute; plan ahead for effectiveness. B> Allow regular meetings to go beyond two hours, if possible. Discretely take long meeting breaks. C> Allow meeting discussion to go off on "tangents". Stay with the agenda. D> Permit matters to "dangle"; insist that group reach a decision whether to act or properly defer. E> Permit one person to do all the talking. F> Attempt to do all the Committee work yourself. Share the work with other members G> Allow the Ministry Executive, or other Officials, to dominate the meeting and contribute to your Group being a "rubber stamp" of management. H> Forget to use proper parliamentary procedure. J> Permit side discussions; all of the members need to hear someone's input; not just his/her neighbor. K> Forget the absentee member; s/he should inform you in advance. If not, find out why absent, etc.
CLOSURE ON ONE ISSUE AT A TIME --- COURTESY AND FAIRNESS TO ALL --- THE LEAST TALKATIVE MEMBER MUST BE HEARD
Links that are "NOT" via Jim Bramer :
>> Housing Allowance >> IRS Publication re Car Donations >> Helps re My Personal Spending Plan >> Help for someone not familiar with Non Profit Finances >> Project collaboration Resource >> QuickBooks (QBs) Non Profit Discussion Group >> Should a Church finance a new Building or Not >> QBs Community - Churches
Links that are via Jim Bramer
>> QBs Report Proof Worksheet >> "After the Fact - ATF" Weekly Internet Accounting System
This Month's previous Editorial - "For What It is Worth" rendered in October 2002
Compartmentalized "Church Management Systems - CMSs" found at: http://www.bcidot.org/fwi/0921-03.html
Current "Ministry Finance" Truism
TRUISM -- "In order to be a God-honoring good financial steward of such resources you absolutely MUST do the necessary money record keeping. Guessing about the amounts and the reasons (and where) you have money is exceeding dangerous!"
You will find more information about Truisms when you go to 0069 .
Prayerful Thots :
Dear Lord, I read in your Word that "We are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." My prayer is that those who read this will take this to heart and especially will help one another as to Ministry Finance matters. I am so very very thankful, Lord, for resources along these lines at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/churchadmin/ and at http://www.eccu.org . Please continue to bless these endeavors for Your Glory and in Your Name, Oh Lord Jesus - Amen
This "Blogger" like monthly endeavor (99) allows me to share some personal comments/thoughts as to Ministry Finance issues plus matters concerning Righteous Personal Finance for Christian people. Please go to 0200 for further explanation and links to earlier JIM's JRNLs. The four digit links xxxx and some "Click Here" info contained herein come from www.bcidot.org or www.qbuxbox.org sources.
If you would like to receive the next monthly JIM's JRNL during the first week of the subsequent month, please join the following Yahoo Group: ---- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JIMsJRNL/. Caution --- the non www.bcidot.org (or not via Jim Bramer) web links that I reference herein do NOT necessarily imply my endorsement. Further, if any of these web links do not work, let us know which one at Jim@bcidot.org. Lists of our www.bcidot.org articles can be found at 9703. 9704 9705. 9706 and 9707
Probable "Ministry Finance Lingo", or "Frequently Used Vocational Terms" used herein, appear below:
BLVR = Someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, CBA = Church Business Administrator, CBAer; CMS = Church Management Software/System; CPA = Certified Public Accountant; GAAP = Generally Accepted Accounting Principles/Practices; GPFund or GPF = General Purpose Fund; MFTeam or MFT= Ministry Finance Team; QBOE = QuickBooks Online Edition; QBooks or QB = Quickbooks; RPFin = Righteous Personal Finance , SPFunds or SPFs = Special Purpose Funds
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This document was updated last on: November 15, 2010