Implementing appropriate financial procedures and practices is important for the health of a church. Whether your parish is small or large there are things you should be doing to protect the parishioners, the clergy, and those responsible for the bookkeeping. Here are five important practices that should be basic for all of our churches.
1. Write it Down
Having written financial policies that are clear and accessible can provide boundaries and guidance in most situations. They should be given to anyone directly related to financial practices and should be reviewed and amended over time to be sure the current needs of the church are covered.
2. Separate Duties
To insure all of those involved are protected, there should be a system that allows for separation of duties. No one individual should ever be in total control of all of the financial matters. The person responsible for processing incoming funds should not be the one to receive them. The person creating checks and inputting data into the accounting system should not be the sole person signing the checks. In some cases it is also suggested that checks require two signatures.
3. Dual Controls
Slightly similar to separation of duties, dual controls are just as important in protecting the church, as well as the individuals directly involved in the finances. In a recent audit we discovered that it was best to have at least two persons present when opening mail that contains checks or processing incoming cash. Implementing a form that is completed and initialed daily by a member of management and a witness is one suggestion. This form can then be compared to the deposit created to ensure that all funds were properly handled. There should always be two people present when counting the offering too. These individuals should be sure they agree on the amount and document it well.
All financial matters including deposits, checks, bank reconciliations, and the accounting software should be monitored by a member of leadership within the church who is not directly involved with the finances. This can be done weekly, monthly, or quarterly depending on the size of your church and the number of entries you have.
Everything we do, we do to serve Jesus Christ, his Church, and our communities. Prayer over our financial work can help us keep that in mind.
Aimee oversees administrative and financial matters and manages the office. She holds an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies for Computer Technology from Asher School of Business, and a Diploma in Accounting from Athens Technical College. She has previously worked in a corporate setting and also provided administrative support for her husband who owned and operated his own business.