A friend of mine, an administrative pastor of a large church told me about a time he had a group of retired special forces officers drive him to the bank. His church collected over $600,000 on one Sunday during a capital campaign, and one of these guys thought they should take extra precautions. He was excited. He said it was like being in a movie. They planned for everything. They mapped out different routes to the bank, ushered him into the middle seat of an SUV, and were heavily armed. He thought it was fun. It was a good story.
You may not need a group special forces officers to take you to the bank, but you need sound financial plans. Nothing moves a church forward like solid finances, and nothing derails a ministry faster than mishandling finances. Churches must focus on effectively (and securely) collecting, handling, and keeping financial records.
Give people giving options. They must be convenient, clear, and consistent. Let people know how to write their checks, and provide them sealed envelopes to deposit their cash. Online giving is a great tool. It provides people a simple and secure one-click option from wherever they are.
Train ushers well. Choose trustworthy members who can collect the offering with a smile. Have a clear route for them to follow through your sanctuary, and tell them where to take it when they’re finished.
Special Funds. Create space on your envelopes and online giving options for people to mark donations for any special initiatives like building funds or missions they’d like to support.
Decide who is counting the money. Create a team or teams of key lay leaders and staff to count the money.
Decide how it’s counted. Create checks and balances. Have policies for difficult situations like what happens when the cash in the envelope doesn’t match what’s written on the label.
Decide where it’s counted. Choose a safe area that’s out of the way.
Decide when it’s counted. Count the money as soon as possible. Many churches count it on Sunday and deposit it right away. If you have to wait until Monday, make sure you have a good safe to hold it overnight.
Use your ChMS to input cash and check amounts. Online giving options are recorded directly into your ChMS and make things easier. Assigning giving numbers to regular givers makes inputting records more efficient.
Provide people access to their giving records. Teach people how to check their giving history on your ChMS. Provide quarterly giving statements to remind people of their pledges.
Create a weekly giving report for your leadership team. It gives them the pulse of your church. Let them look for trends. You may examine the quarterly giving history of your members so you can pray for and encourage people whose giving may have dropped for one reason or another.
Use your budget. Have a plan for every dollar you collect by creating and sticking to a solid financial plan. Don’t live week to week. Give your church margin and be faithful with God’s money.
Hire an accountant. Make sure a professional goes over your books and keeps you in compliance. Small mistakes can lead to huge losses in the long run.