Before embarking on resourcing your church finance team, it may be good to explore the “lay of the land” – getting a handle of what will actually be required as you move forward.
Assumptions and Approach
In an earlier article we touched on what we called a dangerous assumption when it comes to resourcing your church finance function. Let’s repeat this here – the assumption is that:
If someone is a whizz at one aspect of your church finances, they’ll be a whizz at all aspects of your church finances.
You can see the danger. Church accounts, church bookkeeping and church payroll span such a huge scope of tasks and responsibilities that indiscriminately dumping this all on one person could be a recipe for overwhelm and distress.
So how can you approach this in a more helpful way? In this section we walk through an overview of how to bring together various potential resources in a workable structure. We’ll do this by:
- Summarising the various functions that touch on church accounts
- Looking at the types of tasks within these functions
- Exploring the different types of skills that you may be looking for
- Understanding the different capacities that may be required
- Looking possible avenues to resource the scope (internal and external)
- Thinking about systems that may support you
- Considering the broad responsibilities of implementation, oversight and development of your church finance operations
We trust that this, combined with the other overview information contained in this book, may give you a flying start on putting some helpful changes in place.
Functions and Tasks
Earlier we touched on some of the broad range of function across church finance. It may be helpful for you to think about your local situation in this regard, and list all the functions and the types of tasks that may come under each one.
Here’s a bit of a list to get you started (with some quick non-exhaustive examples):
- Data-entry functions – keying in information, for example:
- Creating and updating system contacts
- Entering bills into the system
- Creating and issuing receipts
- Bookkeeping processing functions – coding financial information into the accounting system, for example:
- Bank reconciliation
- Reviewing and repairing transactions
- Developing and processing general ledger journal
- Checking the accounting system data integrity
- Payroll and remuneration functions – managing set up and processing of things like:
- Set up of payroll system
- Set up of employees
- Processing pay runs and related banking
- Resolving payroll enquiries and issues
- Expense management functions – keeping on top of the nitty-gritty of tasks like:
- Managing incoming receipts and reimbursement claims
- Administering the usage of ministry staff benefits and allowances
- Maintaining expense management systems
- Compliance control functions – your interaction with official bodies on items like:
- PAYG Tax
- Single Touch Payroll
- ACNC Reporting
- Insurance obligations
- Reporting functions – attending to a variety of reporting such as:
- Regular financial reporting
- Ad-hoc or customised reporting
- More detailed synthesis and analysis
- Strategic development functions – thinking through higher-level concerns like:
- Chart of accounts
- Budgeting and monitoring
- Consulting and streamlining
- Administrative and workflow functions – keeping information moving between functions, like:
- Fielding bills and requests and obtaining approvals
- Pushing items through to next stage of processing
- Chasing breakdowns of information or process
- System set up and integrity monitoring functions – keeping an eye on when unnoticed errors may be creeping in, for example:
- Reviewing for internal rogue transactions or duplications
- Aligning local records with external banking or ATO records
- Communication functions – crafting and disseminating information, like:
- Updates for ministry, admin and finance teams
- Helpful information for members
- Governance and approval functions – performing a delegated part of the decision-making process, like:
- Review and approval of budgets
- Assessment and authorisation of payment requests
- Signoffs on compliance items
Identifying functions and tasks in this way can then help feed into the next steps of skills and capacity and resourcing of the functions.
Skills and Capacity
For each set of functions that you are seeking to fill in the financial management scope, consider the skills or qualifications that may relevant. Types of skill areas that you may want to include at various points could be:
- Data and system skills
- Bookkeeping/Accounting qualifications
- Management and workflow development aptitude
- Communication and people skills
- Strategic / Analytical experience
- Payroll / HR knowledge
As well as considering the skill sets that may be relevant for various functions, also consider the capacity requirements. This capacity can be thought in terms of both time and temperament.
Time is an important consideration, for both volunteer and paid support. For volunteers, as you will be aware, people are often juggling other work and responsibilities, and so time considerations can play an important part in the sustainability of their contribution. And where you are considering paid support, understanding the time scope of the functions will also be important when constructing a role description and budget for the function.
The other area of capacity to consider is temperament.
Some aspects of church finances are behind the scenes in a more processing type of role – and this suits some people.
Other aspects may be more of a public type of responsibility with lots of communication and interaction with others – and there may be people that enjoy this opportunity to collaborate.
Still other aspects might be more demanding in terms of handling conflicting demands, pressures or sensitive situations and this may not be easy for some people to cope with on an ongoing basis.
So, having a feel for the types of capacity that different people have in terms of their temperament be a helpful factor to understand and explore.
Would you like to explore further topics related to church bookkeeping, church payroll and church financial management? eBook available now:
Your Handy Overview of Church Financial Management
(including your 80+ point Church Financial Management Overview Checklist)
This guide aims to provide a useful and helpful big-picture view – to assist you in further developing the financial function of your church in your context. Designed for church pastors, church ministry leaders, church officeholders, church admin teams, church treasurers and church members.
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