11 Things Church Treasurers Need to Know!
By Rev. Dr. Derek W. McAleer, South Georgia Conference Treasurer and Director of Administrative Services
1. PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR CHURCH WITH POLICIES.
Segregation of Duties is a wonderful practice used in organizations of all sizes. You protect yourself and your church when you segregate financial duties. DO NOT allow your church to put all the financial duties on you, no matter how small the church is. Require some help.
2. CHURCHES OR CHARITIES ARE NOT EXCLUDED FROM IRS REGULATIONS, LABOR LAWS, OR OTHER GUIDELINES.
People actually say to me, “We’re a church. We don’t have to do that.” Most likely you DO have to “do that,” as in follow that labor law, comply with that IRS regulation, or meet that standard. Churches do not get excluded from these regulations.
3. IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO AND TO REQUIRE DOCUMENTATION.
When you’re dealing with friends, family, and neighbors, you may be asked to cut corners or let procedures slide. DON’T. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’ll need a receipt in order to pay you,” or “I can’t pay that until it is approved.”
4. APPORTIONMENTS ARE BASED ON YOUR STATISTICAL REPORT.
Somehow people miss the connection between their own church’s statistical report and the apportionments. “The Conference says we have 263 members, but we don’t have half that many!” No, the Conference doesn’t say anything. Your own church statistical report says you have 263 members. We trusted your report. Our apportionments are derived from a formula applied to your statistical table. So it behooves you to spend some time making sure your annual statistical report is accurate.
5. YOU NEED A COPY OF YOUR PASTOR’S COMPENSATION FORM.
Your pastor may have pension withholdings, insurance cost, or an FSA. You need a copy of the Compensation Form in order to write the paycheck. Be sure you get one.
6. MORE THAN LIKELY … THEY ARE EMPLOYEES.
Churches like to say, “We’ll just pay them as an independent contractor,” because it is easier for the church. But the IRS has standards for who is and who is not an independent contractor, and your church pianist and nursery worker are likely employees. Review the IRS definitions on our website.
7. CONTEMPORANEOUS RECEIPT OF GIFTS MATTERS.
Cancelled checks do not prove a contribution to the church. A “contemporaneous receipt” from the church is required. Monthly or quarterly giving statements meet this standard. If your donor is audited, you can’t go back later and provide the proof of donation, so be sure to do it at the time.
8. YOU BLESS YOUR CHURCH AND PASTOR WHEN YOU GIVE COMPLETE FINANCIAL REPORTS.
No matter what size the church is, monthly or quarterly written reports should be given. Beginning and ending balances, income, and expenses should be reported. People want to know how the church is doing, but often hesitate to ask due to concerns their questions might come off sounding as if they are trying to “check up” on the treasurer. Your open reporting, beyond what they ask for, will be a blessing.
9. SEND MISSION AGENCIES THAT OFFERING!
So often treasurers wait months or until the end of the year to send special offerings to the mission agency! Meanwhile, the ministry those offerings were intended to bless has struggled. When money is designated for a mission cause, send it on as soon as you can!
10. THE ANSWER IS PROBABLY ON THE CONFERENCE WEBSITE.
Both the North and South Georgia financial offices have pretty robust portions of the Conference website. You can find sample Form W-2 explanations of the apportionment formula, information on independent contractors versus employees, sample tax packets for clergy, and much more. Plus, these resources are available online 24 hours a day.
Although people usually do “Top 10” lists, I’ve added #11 since treasurers are quite special!
11. YOU HONOR GOD WHEN YOU DO THE TREASURER’S WORK WELL!
The ministry of “ad-ministry-ation” is a useful way to honor and glorify God. It is a service you can offer our Lord. Both what you do and the way in which you do it can be part of the sacrifice of your life which you lay upon the altar each Sunday. May God receive your offering, and bless you in the giving!