5 Best Practices for Churches and Ministries

Written by Allyssa Klingberg on Feb 18, 2021 in Church Management

4 Minute Read

As church and ministry leaders, following best practices can save you time and money. You'll ensure that you're running according to your stated purpose and tax-exempt status. Plus, your board can achieve its goals of long-term sustainability and maintain the trust of your supporters, members, and donors.

Are you following these 5 best practices for churches and ministries? Keep reading to find out.

What is a best practice?

A best practice is a method of doing something that is widely accepted as correct or most effective. One thing to realize with this is that this may or may not be what most other people are doing.

It's also not necessarily the same thing as a common practice. Best practices are about doing something the right way, even if that means taking some extra time and steps to get it done.

When you can get your nonprofit accounting in order by implementing a few best practices, you will likely find fewer problems with your finances!

In light of this information, let's take a look at a few best practices in nonprofit accounting that could benefit you!

1. Choosing the right bank

Once you've opened an account, it won't necessarily be simple to switch banks, so make the right decision the first time. You want to ensure your nonprofit's mission and goals align with those of your bank. You also want to choose a bank with excellent services and customer perks.

Noteworthy tips to help you find the right bank:

1.  Many banks hold themselves to a high standard of social responsibility. If you're a socially-focused organization, you'll likely want to work with a bank whose interests mesh with yours. Typically, it would be best if you ask your banker for their institution's code of ethics or check whether the bank has a social responsibility statement. These will give you an idea of the bank's standards and let you know how it positions itself within the community.

2. Working with a smaller bank or local credit union can also be a good idea for nonprofits that want to connect closely to their local community. Even regional banks with local ties are more likely to be invested in the surrounding residents than larger banks. Banking with them can assist you with networking and identifying local issues your nonprofit can help with.

3. Not all banks have significant experience with nonprofit banking. When selecting a bank, the best fit will be one that has had many nonprofit clients in the past. The ideal business will have a fair percentage of nonprofits as current clients.

4. Many banks — but not all — offer unique resources and services for nonprofits.

These services can include direct lending, networking opportunities, and training to help your organization secure and manage money more effectively. If hiring a full-time treasurer isn't an option for your organization, some banks will act as treasurer for a fee.

2. Expert help

It's essential to get your books set up right from the get-go, especially for a small organization that's just getting started. Do-it-yourself can be useful when keeping track of home repairs and the like but can be a bit more tricky than a nonprofit's books.

If you choose to have a volunteer help out to save some money as you're getting started, be sure they set things up correctly. You can do this by paying for just a few hours of an Accountant's time to review the setup or use a part-time bookkeeping service to assist in the setup and your monthly accounting needs.

Here's where an expert bookkeeper can work wonders for your ministry. Our Bookkeeping Service will help you get your finances in order, so you don't have to stress over financial management. If you'd like to sign up for our Bookkeeping Service, call us at 877-494-4655 or click the link below to learn more.

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Now, no matter who set up your accounting, you are accountable for them to your state and the IRS. Any numbers and reports created are what you may be required to submit for certain filings, and you don't want to worry about whether it's right or not.

3. Written policies

Policies are the rules that guide your organization and be consistent in managing your nonprofit.

Develop the policies you need around issues, financial or otherwise, and put each policy in writing to keep everyone on the same page, make training new people easy, and provide benchmarks for keeping the organization on track.

You can either be proactive and document your policies now, or you can wait until there's a problem and it forces you to define and document policies. There can be a risk of waiting in that you may have developed some bad habits you'll have to overcome. Plus, you may have a mess to clean up.

It would be best if you had policies for things like:

  • Who is allowed access to financial information?
  • Locking up cash.
  • Cash handling at events.
  • Depositing checks quickly.

So, take the time to get things documented now to save yourself a headache later.

If you need help creating policies, check out our Policies Suite. We offer over 50 customizable templates to help you protect your organization! Call us at 877-494-4655 or click here to learn more!

4. Written procedures

If policies are the rules that guide your nonprofit, procedures are the steps to getting tasks done inside those rules.

Procedures help ensure that things are being done consistently, which can be important when multiple people are involved.

If your nonprofit is really small, it's still important to put procedures in place so that you remember how things are done and so you can train new people when you're ready to add them.

5. Regular Financial Reports

Every nonprofit, no matter its size, should keep a close eye on its finances.

After all, you can only manage something if you measure it - and that's particularly true of money.

A nonprofit's Board of Directors should be taking a monthly look at financial reports to see what came in, what went out, and how those numbers compare to the budget.

Look at:

  • This month's expenses and revenue actuals compared to budget.
  • Year-to-date expenses and revenue actuals compared to budget.
  • This month's expenses and revenue compared to this same month last year.

Reviewing these numbers will help you keep a tight handle on how you're doing financially. And it's also one of your board's primary responsibilities to make sure the nonprofit is financially sound.

It can be common for boards of smaller and newer nonprofits to think "there's not much to look at" and brush this off. But remember that how you begin is often how you continue. If you don't take it seriously now, chances are good you won't take it seriously later. So, best to start reviewing financial reports early on!

Bottom Line

Here at StartCHURCH, we understand your time is valuable. We affirm with you that God has called you to lead a nonprofit, not handing paperwork all the time. At StartCHURCH, our Church Planting Specialists and Bookkeepers can help you get your paperwork and books out of the way so you can focus on ministering to the people God has called you to impact. Call us today at 877-494-4655 or click the link below to schedule a call with a specialist to learn more about our services!

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera


And receive Book 1 of our Grow Trilogy FREE today! This series gives you the strategies you need to get started growing your church plant today!