Church employees wear many hats – many of which require spending money.
Whether that spending is from the petty cash drawer to pay a delivery person, purchasing flowers for the auditorium, or buying supplies for children’s church – spending is attached to many employee and volunteer job descriptions.
When I first joined the workforce, it was very difficult to spend the organization’s money. You had to go through stringent processes – fill out a purchase order (PO), get it approved by your manager, send the PO to the purchasing department, and then hope you would get your supply within a week or so.
I am sure that there are still many organizations that operate this way.
However, the fast pace at which we all work has changed how organizations spend.
How Do Churches Manage Purchase Spending?
Churches typically operate one of two ways.
The first is an employee may use their own personal credit card to make purchases on behalf of the church.
In this situation, the employee would submit a receipt and wait for reimbursement. This is a challenge, particularly if the accounting department is slow to approve and write checks. This also creates a reimbursement process that takes time.
The second is churches providing employees with credit cards.
There seems to be a trend of handing out credit cards to employees, so they have easy access to spending church dollars. This expedites the purchasing process, particularly when time is of the essence.
However, this easy access to spending creates a new problem – managing those expenses.
When I left the corporate world and began working for a church, I was amazed at how many employees carried credit cards and how easy it was for them to make purchases – very often with no constraints.
Much of this has to do with the current trend of online shopping for supplies – in addition to the last-minute requirements of needed supplies for a church-sponsored event.
For instance, the church I worked for held huge events, and it was pretty common for someone to identify a missing supply during the time we were setting up for the event.
That is when an employee or willing volunteer would run to the store and pick up what was needed.
The challenge came when the credit card statements came in, and our accounting department had to painfully go through each transaction and try to determine who spent what line item.
I remember thinking, “there has got to be a better way to manage this spending process….”
What is really difficult with churches, is that these ministries thrive on events! Whether that event is the Sunday pancake breakfast, the kids’ summer camp, or the annual Christmas production – events are what the church is about.
Managing church events requires lots of planning, but it also requires spending on supplies and equipment.
Technology Can Help Churches Manage Spending
I am constantly looking for tools and resources to help the local church do its job more efficiently by taking advantage of the new technologies.
One technology I recently stumbled upon is called PEX.
PEX is an employee expense management solution that helps churches enable spending – while maintaining control over how much is spent, on what items.
This technology allows churches to reduce unnecessary spending, eliminate the need for petty cash and save time on expense reporting.
The use of this technology also allows churches to fund and de-fund prepaid Visa cards instantly.
When I was overseeing department spending, it was difficult to manage how employees (and often volunteers) spent. Lack of controls in spending leads to paperwork on the back end.
And, organizations that don’t have strong controls over spending can easily become a victim of embezzlement.
Customers who began using the PEX card had some interesting things to say:
- They saw an average of 25% decrease in employee spending;
- 47% decrease in fraud;
- And, saved an average of 12 hours per month on expense reporting.
How Pex Works
You have to set up an account, fund the account, issue cards to employees or volunteers who purchase on your behalf. You are then able to control spending by adding or subtracting money to their accounts – based on their particular spending needs.
For instance, let’s say you asked the church receptionist to run to the store and pick up some copy paper for the printer. You can easily load her card with the cash she will need to make that purchase. No more and no less – you control how much cash is loaded on the card.
There is also a cool way to automate deposits for those employees that make recurring purchases. These kinds of controls help to discourage unapproved spending while facilitating access to cash when it is necessary.
No one likes to play the heavy when it comes to confronting an employee or volunteer about unapproved spending. I don’t know about you, but I love when technology can help with managing those processes and eliminate the need to call a meeting and ask a lot of awkward questions.
If you would like to learn more about this technology, you can click here.
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