6 Church Financial Management Tips

The unpredictable economic climate has created budgeting challenges for many organizations, and the church is no exception.  This creates the need for churches to find help figuring out the best way to manage their sometimes limited resources.

Church leaders are often challenged with ensuring there is continued funding to support current programs and fixed operational costs. This can be difficult because the financial needs of a church can be significant, and juggling limited resources can be stressful.

6 Church Financial Management Tips

1. Strategic Planning

The unpredictable economic climate has created budgeting challenges for many organizations, and the church is no exception.  This creates the need for churches to find help figuring out the best way to manage their limited resources.Developing a strategic plan is one of the first steps to strong financial management. Taking the time to set a course of action, and develop church goals and a plan, is the key to getting there.

The beauty of developing a strategy and plan, is that it takes every area of church operations into consideration, and allows for designating resources toward those critical areas that will sustain and grow the ministry.

A well thought out plan also takes into considers those financial policy and reporting measures that are necessary for responsible financial management.

2. Realistic Revenue Projections

Many churches are trying to operate with uncertain revenues and should be making realistic projections of donations.

One way to address this is to consider bi-annual or quarterly review of projections to ensure accurate financial targets for the year.

3. Budgeting

Budgeting is critical for successful financial management and church budgets are tools that help leaders achieve objectives and helps to control un-budgeted spending.

Investing the time, and committing the resources, to creating a budget can have a significant impact on the financial health of the church and can provide the necessary finances to support church strategy and goals.

4. Oversight and Accountability

Once a budget is set, oversight and accountability for adhering to the budget is important because it keeps the organization from spending resources that are not allocated.

Department managers are responsible for variances and adherence to the budget. The Church Finance Committee, coupled with a strong performance management process, is a great way to ensure accountability for budget oversight and spending.

5. Communication

Commit to financial transparency and solicit feedback from church members on cost saving ideas, strategies for raising funds and make them aware of any financial challenges.  For example, if an unexpected major facility repair has occured, let the church know about the unexpected cost.

As difficult as it is to present the cold hard facts, a church community loves to rally around a cause to help resolve problems.  Create a consistent communication process, share budget information and provide avenues to answer any financial questions that members may have.

6. Be Prepared for a Financial Emergency

Make sure you church has a plan in place in the event of a financial emergency and use positive profit margins to fund an emergency account. When you budget for an emergency you create a financial buffer that buys you the time needed to make adjustments and spending changes in the event of a true financial emergency.

For example, if you live in the northeast, you are painfully aware of the weather conditions that can impact church attendance and giving.  Make sure you have a financial plan in place to offset those uncontrollable donation variances.

Many church financial problems can be avoided by good planning, consistent budgeting and accountability for spending.  Church leaders should embrace structured processes to ensure the resources are available to keep the organization in the black and moving forward, regardless of the economic climate.

photo by:  401K

Article originally posted March, 2012, updated February 2015.

Comments

  1. Aubrey Gulumba says

    Your article has opened my on alot of things regarding management of church or Ministry finances. However, i would like to ask you to provide me with professional advice on how to record ministry financial transactions . Three months ago I was asked to be a custodian of finaces of’ a local ministry ,unfortunately i have never had any training in financial management, as a result recording of financial transactions for the ministry is quite challenging. I am unable to produce coherent monthly financial reports. Iwant to do a good job but because of lack of knowledge i am unable to do so. The Leadership seem to understand my problem but.I am not happy with how things are going on. I am writing to ask for assistace from you on how to do the job correctly. if possible please provide a format on how i should record and report financial transactions.This is a small ministry whose transactions are between U$ 500 – 1500 per month. However , it has the potential for growth.

    • Patricia says

      Hi Aubrey! There are a couple of ways you can approach this. The most cost effective way is to create an excel spreadsheet to track all financial transactions. There are several downloadable templates that already have formulas in the excel software so all you need to do is change the category names. An easier solution, if the ministry can scrape together the funds, would be to purchase QuickBooks Online or the pro edition for a couple hundred dollars. The online version is a small monthly fee but has lots of features to help with tracking finances. Lots of small businesses and churches use this software when they are starting off. I hope this helps! Thanks for comment!

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