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

  TO:  Interested Onliners                                                                                                                       FROM: Jim Bramer, Retired Auditor-CPA
J I Ms  J R N L  for the months of
January/February 2010                                                 FILE:  jrnl/2010/0102-10                   

    01 - Ministry Finance Online-Internet Matters (01)

            Please  Go Here and read about an WebBOOK  entitled “The Ministry Finance Internet Friendly Journey .  My prayer is that this supposed six month “Journey” will assist you to effectively make full use of the applicable Online and/or Internet resources as you do such things as the following:

>>   Embrace such electronic Computer systems as “eFinFax that ultimately allows you to response to  These Goals and provides you with a weekly report that answers this important question:  Do I have money to spend this week in my area of responsibility
Make deposits of checks right from my computer and scanner without physically going to the Bank.
>>   Use such Online resources to ”
Money Manage ”  so that you ultimately earn the maximum amount of Interest Income.
>>   Via this  
After the Fact (ATF)  process you have 24/7 Online access to Bank Account or Credit Card accounts that allow you to electronically move transactions from these sources to your Computer software system.  This substantially reduces manual transaction processing steps and reduces the reconciliation process of your records to theirs. 
>>   Buy via
Debit Cards --- or you use your Plastic to write checks which reduces the amount of related involved paperwork of manually writing checks.  Plus, of course, you have no Credit Card debt.
>>   Buy via
Credit Cards and then you go Online and pay off the Credit Card balance two/three times during the month.  This way you do not need Credit Card liability General Ledger accounts since such transactions are Disbursements during the month.  Plus, of course, you have no debt management per se.
>>   Online Donations The donor does it one time only or they arrange to make the same donation automatically each month either via the Debit Card or Credit Card process.  Please note this User’s vow  as to potential misuse of their Credit Card.
>>   Use such Online means for both
Ministry Events registration and Online receipts.
Payroll --- Direct deposits of net pay.   You integrate this process when you righteously outsource the entire payroll process.  Ask us about some reliable providers of such services.
>>   Online Payments   Arrange, usually via the Vendor’s website, whereby you make one-time or repetitive Online payments.  Either for the same amount or up to a certain maximum amount, etc.

  02 - The Board's  Finance Committee (12)

                Sometimes it helpful  to remind ourselves why we exist:

>>    Is fiscally accountable with integrity and righteousness - no deceptive secrets.
>>    Prudently utilizes appropriate tools -- like computerized accounting systems
>>    Tools are appropriately structured and operated by competent and well trained staff.
>>    Continually communicates fiscal status and operations to whose who should know.
>>    Has timely and fully understood financial reports - ask us for samples.
>>    Makes timely payments to staff, vendors and taxing authorities.
>>    Is a good steward of financial & physical resources.
>>    Has good financial Internal controls/checks and balances - ask us for more information.
>>    Has regular written Spending Control information 
>>    Is auditable by the applicable entity
>>    Money on hand is earning the maximum amount of Interest Income.
>>    Has written financial policies - they establish and adhere thereto - ask us for samples.

03 - Edited Copy of Dialogs about "Online Giving"  (13)

    Below is an edited copy from a well known Forum - let me know if you want to know which one, etc.

Onliner One:
            We are behind the times regarding on-line giving, but are about to catch up.
            But a concern has been raised. For those who believe strongly that giving is a worshipful act, have you had negative reaction to the change in the actual "act?" In other words, do givers feel a loss and a lack of participation when they are no longer dropping checks or envelopes in a basket during the offering time in the worship service?

Onliner Two:
            We give to those who want them little cards that say "I gave On-line" followed by the URL   It not only gives those people the opportunity to drop something in the plate, it provides a little promotion for on-line giving (at least until it gets covered by all the additional gifts). The card has their name on it, so I'm able to recycle those back to the donor so I'm not sending cards to people who don't use them.

 Onliner Three
            Just this past Sunday we put a short survey regarding on-line giving in our bulletin. One of the questions was  "I prefer to bring my check or give cash. I would not take advantage of electronic giving".  Over 50% of the responders indicated they would never use online giving.   While there were some younger people in this group, they tended to be our older congregation members.   We are going to distribute the survey next Sunday as well and make our decision about offering on-line giving after that.

Onliner Four:
            On strategy used to help with this is to have a way for people to indicate on a card that they have given other ways that go in the plate.   Also some churches are encouraging member to place a dollar in the plate as an act of worship even when they have given by check through the mail or online. My church did this for all Fall and it is a powerful expression to see everyone putting something in the plate as an act of worship.

Online Five:
            I would also say that the  "act of giving"  happens when you press  "send"  on your on-line or bill-pay feature,  not just when you are sitting in the pew. Most people write their check and make the decision PRIOR to arriving at the service anyway.   I feel it is when you choose what you are going to give, regardless of when it happens, that makes it an act of worship, not just dropping an envelope in the plate.   THAT makes it a public display,  not an act of worship.  We have offered on-line giving for 18 months, and it accounts for 10% of our total offering.

Online Six:
            I  just met with a group of church facility managers last week,  and we discussed this topic. Some and have direct deposit for their tithe and fill out an envelope and turn it in on Sunday with a "tithe submitted via direct deposit" note on the envelope,  just because they know other people are  'watching what they do',  and they also want to participate in the worship part of giving. At my church, we have a number of direct deposit tithers - some of those individuals also turn in empty envelopes on Sunday just so they can participate in the worship.   
            If they don't make the direct deposit note on the envelope though it causes havoc because the counters don't know about the direct deposit but see this empty envelope with a dollar amount on it, but we have not discouraged anyone from doing this, nor have we told direct deposit tithers how to still participate in the worship process.

Onliner Seven:
            On-line giving is not for everyone, of course, but those who desire to put something in the offering plate can always drop in an envelope with  "I gave online"  written on it or a card like suggested above. I like that idea.  As for above  remark that 55% of survey responders said they would "never give on line," wouldn't it be fantastic if the other 45% did?
            Ultimately, on-line giving  is a convenience and not everyone will take advantage of it. I would not advocate replacing the taking of the offering during worship with on-line giving.   In the same way,  I would not say you can't mail in your check when you are on vacation, sick, (or otherwise unable to make it to the worship service)  ---  nor would I insist you use cash and not take advantage of the convenience of writing a check.

Onliner Eight:
            You make a very good point above.   Dropping an envelope in a tray truly is public display. Prior to being a staff member, there were times when I was unemployed and unable to pay tithe.  I made the tithe moment a personal prayer time for myself, and when the plate would pass, I would talk to God and just say  "God, you know my heart".   Although some say time is not an even exchange, I would ramp up my volunteerism at the church when I wasn't able to tithe so I at least felt like I was giving something.  It's funny that before I started working at the church, I felt the tithe time was a personal worship moment between me and God and I didn't care what *people*thought ... but now that I work for the church, I definitely feel like I need to have something go in that tray to appease people - which I know is not what it's supposed to be about. Great topic!

Onliner Nine:
            We have online giving and automated electronic giving (via bank account). I would say that givers have mixed reactions. We are not aware of anyone who is upset or angry that we offer, but some who refuse or prefer not to do so. We also have a lot of people who embrace it, realizing that they give more regularly because of it.  It is not necessarily a generational thing for us (though to some extent). I think it reflects more on the approach different people take in managing finances.

Onliner Ten:
            We offer the option for members to sign up for “Simply Giving” an automatic banking transaction where they can opt to sign up for weekly, semi-monthly, monthly contributions direct from their bank account to ours. This works very well for us - we receive significant dollars through this tool.   Easy to start, stop, or modify and the cost is not significant.
            We also place an envelope in each worship program/bulletin. The envelope says " I am a “Simply Giver”,  so please put me in the offering plate." This encourages a visual act of giving which, yes is a public display, but it also functions as an important teaching tool for children who see the physical act of making an offering. The empty envelopes are recycled from the plate and used on subsequent Sundays so that the cost is minimal.  People accept this method. Those that are not interested use the traditional ways of making their contributions.   We do not have a system for giving via credit card.   We encourage members to use the option they are comfortable with.

04     Self Examinations re Ministry Finance Matters (14)

            We recommend  that a Christ-Centered Entity  annually uses such resources that appear below to do some Ministry Finance Self Examinations.    In/around your annual session with your Auditor is an ideal time to do this as each participant independently fills out a grade report -- be sure everyone understands the terms used.  In order to make appropriate improvements, the poor grades need to be understood by all.  Below are links to  Ministry Finance Exam Self Exam or Grade Report  resources:

Churches                                  http://www.bcidot.org/chu/5128-77.html
Mission Agencies                   http://www.bcidot.org/mis/8128-77.html
Christian School                     http://www.bcidot.org/sch/7128-77.html
Christians and/or Families   http://www.bcidot.org/env/BookkeepingSelfExam.html   

                 Such matters are also covered within the following links:

05  New  "Church Finance Policies" Forum (15)

        A number of you  www.bcidot.org  Onliners have asked us for a copy via Email attachment of this sample  Church Finance Policies  as you use it to modify your unique Ministry Finance situations.   The objective is for you to place such matters in writing and appropriately  implement.    It seems best to make such resources available via this new Yahoo Forum  http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/chufinpol/ ; please note the following purposes as stated therein:

 - - - - - - -    To assist Churches have and make full use of their Finance Policies - - - - -

    -------  Via the content at  www.bcidot.org/chu/5005-08.html  we provide you with a written example of a Church's Finance Policies so that these important aspects of governing can best be cared for, etc.

    -------  A number of you have asked for this information as a Word doc so you can personalize and get this cared for ASAP at your Church.

    ------- The ultimate effectiveness of such an effort, of course, includes such steps as the following

     >> Upon your self examination you realize which matters
           need  to be   addressed/improved/placed in writing.
     >> Then approved by the governing body
     >> Then digested/understood/implemented by those who
           handle the finances.
     >> As we all know, things seem to always need updating
          due to change .... so segments of the policy need to be
          a part of the regular Finance meeting agenda
          so they are reviewed and appropriately brought current.

   -------  We respond to your request by encouraging you to join this http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/chufinpol/  Yahoo Forum.

   -------  After you are an approved member of this Yahoo Forum (
some have unsuccessfully tried to access the "Files" section of the Forum before be an approved member)  you obtain the requested Word doc by going the the "Files" section of the Forum within the pane to the left.

   -------  Or the approved new member can get their requested Word doc by going there and not have to depend on us sending you an Email attachment.

       Further, a significant purpose of this Yahoo Forum is to provide you with
the means to inter-act and assist one another in this overall effort --- either by Forum postings or by contacting others directly. The important issue is that the Church gets such matters documented and improved ASAP.
       But, of course, once you get your Word doc copy, you can opt out of this Forum at any time. 
       Or re-contact with us and we will send you the Word doc.

06 - "Meaningful Declarations"  for any of us:  (02)     

A new Christian Missionary made the following statement that I would hope that all of us would apply to ourselves:

    "I marvel at being an agent for His purposes. What is it He will do via me in the future? I don't know, but I pray for courage, boldness, and a willingness beyond my own abilities."

07 - Potentially Helpful Online Links: (03)

>> Addressing a Shortfall       >>  Church Finances Remain Pinched in Early 2010   >>  Electronic Giving    
Guarding Against Church Embezzlement    >>  Tithing Church Giving Statistics     >>  Love Gift Rules
>> Cybercrooks stalk small businesses that bank online   >>  Essential Financial Competencies for Ministry Leaders 
>>  IRS Announces 2010 Standard Mileage Rates     >> Debit or credit card -- Here are the pros and cons  

08 -  "For What it is Worth"  publication by Jim Bramer     

                        A School makes full use of Plastic resources in the administration of its School Account Receivable (Schar) system

09 Ministry Finance TRUISMS - or precepts/beliefs/principles.   Please go to  0069  for complete TRUISMS list.          

         STATEMENTS OF RELEVANT FINANCIAL FACTS -- be sure these are defined by the money decision makers and are timely received.  See content of when you CLICK HERE  for more info.  

10  - Prayerful Thots :   Lord, I am impressed with the following statement:   "Those who joyfully leave everything in  God's hand, will
                           eventually see God's hand in everything."  Help me, Lord.  In thy Precious Name I pray --- Amen.

  •     This "Blogger" like endeavor (99) allows me to share some personal comments/thoughts as to Ministry Finance issues.  For topic alphabetical  lists in earlier JIM's JRNLs. editions,  please Go Here.    
        If you would like to receive the next
    JIM's JRNL edition,  please join the following Yahoo Group:   ---- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JIMsJRNL/.    Caution --- the non  www.bcidot.org  web links that I reference herein do NOT necessarily imply my endorsement.  Further, if any of these links do not work, let us know which one at Jim@bcidot.org .  Lists of our  www.bcidot.org  articles (or Web Docs), can be found at  97089709 and  9710

 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 QBs = Quickbooks;
 SPFunds or SPFs = Special Purpose Funds


Click Here  for information about earlier JIM's JRNLs - or contact me via   Jim@bcidot.org 

This document was updated last on:  July 11, 2011