- - And the Lord direct your heart in the love of God as you continue to faithfully serve Him - -

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         TO:  Interested Onliners                                                                                                            FROM: Jim Bramer, Retired Auditor-CPA                                        
         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)      

PURPOSE:  To help your  Ministry Finance Team  be more effective plus assist Christians 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 FundOr 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).
      >>   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.
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.
     >>    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
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
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.


    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.



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


Click Here for more JIM's JRNLs info that includes topical Indexes by year  - Contact Jim@bcidot.org 

This document was updated last on:  November 15, 2010