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Tracking Funds

Those special funds can make congregational bookkeeping quite complicated! I’ve seen congregations lose track of whether they’ve sent in a special offering they’ve collected. Some are unclear about the best way to record fundraising expenses — bookkeeping rules say that they should be listed as expenses, but the congregation only wants to see the net income from the fundraiser. Sometimes, a donor gives a restricted contribution, and the church is legally obligated to keep track of that money until it is used as the donor has specified. How do we do all of this with our volunteer and part-time staff?

It helps to think of each transaction in two dimensions.

  • First, what fund does it belong in? Think of a fund as a pool of money available for a specific purpose, such as Missions or Memorial or Capital. Note that most of your activity will be in your General Fund. For a longer list of funds, check out our website.
  • And then second, what line item is it? These are your familiar line items: supplies, missions expenses, maintenance, utilities, etc.

So every transaction has both an account and a fund, such as:

  • Worship Supplies / General Fund
  • Office Supplies / General Fund
  • Sunday School Curriculum / General Fund
  • Special Offering Disbursement / Neighbors in Need Fund
  • Capital Improvement Expense / Capital Fund
  • Landscaping Expense / Memorial Fund

In some ways, this two-dimensional structure may sound more complex, but on the other hand, thinking of your congregation’s finances in this way can clear up a lot of confusion, as it allows you to isolate the transactions from a fund and answer basic questions, such as:

  • How much did we collect for our Neighbors in Need offering? Did we send it in yet?
  • How do we just show the net proceeds from our fundraiser?
  • How much of the Smith Memorial is left after the landscaping project?
  • How can we set aside money for capital improvements?
  • Can we carry over Youth Group money to next year?

Our workshops, webinars and videos teach you how to track these kinds of funds, easily and clearly. We begin with the basic theory, continue with the practical set up in QuickBooks, and then dive into various topics:

  • Bookkeeping 1:1-3 is offered either in a one-hour quick overview, or more slowly in three sessions.
  • QuickBooks 2:1-2 explains how to set up QuickBooks using this fund-tracking system.
  • QB Topics 3:1-5 present advanced topics: building or tuition revenue, payroll, grants, investments, year-end adjustments

You’ll have a chance to learn about the topic, and share your questions and experiences with others. Click here for further information.