When it comes to expense management, church leaders have to find a way to balance necessary finance logistics with responsibilities to their members.
While it's essential to enable employees and volunteers to make purchases for church functions and events, church leaders also need to maintain accountability and control over how funds are used. To make tight budgets work, church leaders need to carefully plan and manage their expenses through accurate expense reporting but the process of dealing with reimbursements, petty cash transactions and lost receipts can be time-consuming, and a church leader's time is at a premium.
Expense management platforms make it possible to streamline the reporting process, control spending, and focus on charting your church's future.
As you evaluate which tools best fit the needs and goals of your church, consider the following tips:
1.) Get anytime, anywhere access.
Any expense management platform has to be able to keep up with on-the-fly purchases from mission trips to unexpected event needs. Look for cloud-based reporting tools that can access and manage funds 24/7, wherever you are this makes it easier to track traveling expenses and quickly adapt to the needs of your employees and volunteers.
Prepaid cards offer flexible funds, but you can transfer to the cards from your bank account. Some platforms allow you to adjust balances in real time or approve unforeseen expenses via text message. You can also select an automatic refill for each month for more routine transactions, like picking up refreshments between services.
Make sure you select a prepaid card that's commonly accepted by vendors and merchants.
2.) Limit spending amounts and categories.
Clear, established limits on spending amounts and categories allow you to oversee expenses without micromanaging every purchase. Expense management platforms can allow you to control where employees and volunteers can use your funds the process is as simple as checking "yes" on gas and "no" on retail. The extra layer of accountability for your staff prevents spend abuse and fraud without preventing them from doing their jobs.
Cloud-based tools with real-time tracking offer transparency so your employees and volunteers have a better idea of what they're spending and can self-regulate their purchases. These lead to more accurate expense reports, which can help you develop a stronger budget to advance your church. If you want to connect expenses to specific projects and events, some platforms allow users to make digital note on each of their purchases.
3.) Replace reimbursement.
The reimbursement process can be complicated and inefficient. Asking volunteers to use their own money upfront puts an unnecessary strain on their finances, especially when the reimbursement process can take several weeks.
Prepaid cards with set limits provide a convenient way to transfer funds. Volunteers can serve the church wholeheartedly without worrying about stretching their finances, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of reimbursement forms and lost receipts.
Any tools you add should make your job easier, not more complicated. The platform should be simple to navigate and should integrate with any existing financial software for seamless data entry.
Expense management platforms should offer a straightforward process for submitting and approving expense reports. You can then sort reports by individuals and departments to compare how actual spending patterns to your budget and look for discrepancies.
5.) Consider cash and credit alternatives.
Some churches rely on petty cash for routine transactions, but this can be hard to keep track of, and is impractical for larger purposes. Credit cards may seem like an effective solution, but they introduce the possibility of missed payments and you may not want all employees and volunteers to have access to your line of credit.
Prepaid cards don't require a credit approval process and offer straightforward, predictable pricing. You can immediately disburse funds without having to handle lots of cash or stress about your credit limit, and the church's credit is protected, so you can issue funds with confidence.
PEX is one convenient expense management solution that combines all these capabilities. The company integrates prepaid cards with accounting software so organizations can enable employee and volunteer spending while controlling it in ways never before possible. With a next-generation platform like PEX, leaders can manage expenses efficiently and devote more time to other church activities.