Church leaders have to balance necessary finance logistics with their other responsibilities. The process, which includes approving large expenses, meeting budget targets, gathering receipts, and reimbursing staff, clergy and volunteers, can be tedious and time-consuming –and a church leader’s time is at a premium.
Expense management platforms are a convenient way to track transactions, allocate funds and control spending. You can focus less on managing day-to-day expenses and more on charting your church’s long-term future. Here are four tech-based tips to make it easy to manage church expenses.
1. Get anytime, anywhere access with a mobile app
Church expenses can be unpredictable. Any expense management platform has to be able to keep up with on-the-fly purchases, especially while church staff and volunteers are traveling for mission work.
Platforms that connect to mobile apps allow you to access funds and approve requests from any smartphone or computer, whether you’re doing outreach work in the next town or the next state over. Users can request funds transfers via text message and church leaders can then approve them remotely, ending delays and inefficiencies.
With mobile apps, church employees and volunteers can also review their transactions in real time as they travel or pick up supplies, empowering them to better self-regulate their purchases. The increased visibility can actually make spending more efficient and save money for your church.
2. Replace reimbursement with a prepaid card solution
The reimbursement process can be complicated and inefficient. Asking church staff and volunteers to use their own money upfront puts an unnecessary strain on their finances, especially when the reimbursement process can take several weeks. While credit cards may seem like an efficient solution, they introduce the possibility of overdraft fees or missed payments – and you may not want all church employees and volunteers to have access to your line of credit.
Prepaid cards with set limits offer a safe and convenient way to transfer funds. You can easily get funds to church volunteers and employees when they need them, without having to handle lots of cash or stress about your credit limit. Church volunteers can serve the community without stretching their personal finances, and you won’t have to deal with the hassle of reimbursement forms and lost receipts.
3. Restrict spending categories with a smart expense management tool
It’s important to ensure church funds are being spent responsibly and appropriately — but that doesn’t have to mean approving each individual purchase before it’s made. You would probably want to know if a church employee is about to purchase $500 of Sunday school supplies when you just stocked up, but you don’t need to approve every small, routine purchase.
With a smart expense management platform, you can control where church employees and volunteers can use your funds – the process is as simple as checking “yes” on gas and “no” on retail. You can also predetermine how much they can spend, setting different limits for church staff who make regular operational purchases and church volunteers who help with one-day events. Restricted spending amounts and categories allow you to oversee expenses without micromanaging every purchase. The extra layer of accountability for church staff and volunteers prevents spend abuse without preventing them from doing their jobs.
4. Integrate platforms for streamlined processing.
Relying on reimbursement puts a burden on church staff and volunteers, who may not want or be able to use their all funds, and on church administrators, who then have to process expense reports and issue reimbursement checks. It can prevent you from getting an accurate picture of current expenses – you won’t know how much is being spent until you receive a reimbursement request.
Cloud-based tools that integrate with your existing accounting or financial software make it convenient to plan your budget and get a better sense of the needs of your church. Up-to-the-minute transaction records give you more insight into spending patterns. At the end of the month, church administrators, employees and volunteers can approve expenses easily and save hours of time that was previously spent processing.
PEX is an expense management tool that combines all these capabilities. The company integrates debit cards with accounting software so churches and other organizations can enable employee and volunteer spending while controlling it in ways never before possible. The PEX platform connects to a mobile app, giving you 24/7, on-the-go access to funds and transaction information.
With a next-generation tech solution like PEX, church leaders can avoid the headache of convoluted expense management and devote more time to the church community.