Hands in the till

by John Handley, Synod Treasurer

Have you heard “Many hands make light work”? It is even true of congregation finance tasks. Separating responsibility for accounting tasks so that no one individual controls funds through the entire accounting lifecycle not only makes the load on any one individual lighter, but it is a good financial practice.

Even in smaller congregations, more hands can be added to the effort. Members without specific accounting skills can be recruited to be tellers, for example.

Rotating finance tasks among different members of the congregation is also a good idea. In my home congregation, for example, members of the audit committee serve three-year terms and are not eligible to serve consecutive terms.

How do you bring new volunteers up to speed? The ELCA has several resources that explain congregational accounting and outline best practices. Find more from “Finance for Congregations” at elca.org.

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Editor’s note: “Finance for Congregations” tips Mr. Handley refers to include:

Congregational Treasurers Financial & Accounting Guide  ·  Handling Financial Matters in the Congregation  ·  Accounting Methods — Cash Basis and Accrual Basis  ·  Program Budget Presentations  ·  Financial Contingency Planning  ·  Accountable Reimbursement Policies  ·  Congregational Audit Guide  ·  Internal Control Best Practices  ·  Data Security  ·  Identity Theft

“Questions about Caring for Financial Assets” are also shared by the ELCA Office of the Secretary, including “Accepting Restricted Gifts” and “Tax Status.”

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