Spring is coming soon. And thoughts go to cleaning up, straightening up, and throwing out unneeded, unused items. The same can be true within your church software package.
In your Membership database, you probably have names and addresses of people you haven’t seen for years or names that just got entered more than once. This would be a good time to consolidate the records and delete the duplicates or unwanted names so your reports aren’t “cluttered” with them. Often however, they are people you want to retain in the database for reference purposes. For example, “Give me a list of everyone who moved away in the last five years.” Or – “I need to know how many active members died last year.” Most good software packages contain a way to remove them from day-to-day reports but keep their data available for this type of reporting.
Also, a good idea is to provide your staff and committee chairs reports on those who have simply faded away. One of the favorite reports from our clients is one like – “Give me a list of all those who attended and/or contributed in 2014 but have since disappeared.” Sometimes there is a family situation going that they didn’t share and the church may be able to minister to them.
Additional cleanup opportunities are to move adult children out of their parents’ households and into their own households. This can usually be done with a click or two of the software. Some folks make the mistake of doing this while they are still college students. In this case, the student still uses Mom and Dad’s address as their “permanent” address. They just have a temporary college or summer address. The same is true for someone who moves into a nursing home for an extended stay. The “permanent” address is still home with their spouse. The best way to handle these situations is to set up a date-sensitive alternate individual address, i.e. – from 09/01 through 06/01, the student is at the college address. Likewise, for the nursing home person, they are at the nursing home beginning on a certain date and plan to return home on a certain date. By having these dates entered, each will have a label printed for a newsletter or other mailings you may do.
Along with cleanup opportunities, this may be a good time for updating incomplete records. Ask your software for a list of everyone whose birth date is equal to blank and then contact these folks to get the information. In most good software packages, you can also print a form that includes the information you already HAVE plus leaves blanks for them to fill in with needed data.
This might also a good time to do some clean-up work in Accounting and Donations Modules. How many chart of accounts line items have been there for years and aren’t being used. Looking at the items in the database for my own church, I saw giving accounts in Donations and income accounts in Accounting for the tsunami from years ago, a youth fund raiser from 2008, and one for the purchase of a new organ back in 2001. You definitely want to keep the historical record, but there is no need to clutter up your current system with these old accounts. Most good software programs will let you delete accounts if there is no activity or at least mark them as inactive so they cannot be used again.
You can also streamline your accounting reporting so that you are using subtotals to simplify what the committees see. Often, the treasurer has a full report in case there is a question. For example, the treasurer’s report might show a subtotal of utility expenses but if someone has a question, the treasurer has a breakdown of each line item. And – learn to email these reports directly from your software package ahead of time to speed up your meeting times.