Congregations everywhere are trying to ensure their financial system is accurate and safe.  Church fraud and embezzlement continues to be a rapidly growing challenge.  Brotherhood Mutual, a church insurance company shares some shocking statistics that Church Fraud now exceeds what churches give to mission work.

“Increasing at an annual rate of nearly six percent, researchers expect church financial fraud to reach the $60 Billion mark by 2025.”

The fact is churches are prime targets for fraud.  Why?  First, churches don’t exchange goods or services for the money they receive (no inventory to track).  Second, churches tend to be an organization with an unusually high degree of trust.  Also, churches tend to lack internal controls.

“”Nobody wants to believe that the person they trust, the person they respect, is stealing from them,” said Sizemore. “But that is exactly what I’m seeing in our practice.”  Each year, Forensic Strategic Solutions receives 3-4 cases of a church or nonprofit that has discovered or suspects fraud.  Typically, when they investigate, they find few if any accounting controls and most financial procedures in place are based on ‘trust.’”

– Alton Sizemore, forensic accountant in a 2013 Forbes article

So why consider outsourcing?  For some smaller to medium sized churches, having an outsourced bookkeeper can increase expertise & accuracy, lower bookkeeping costs, and provide a missing link in internal controls.  Let’s take a look at these one by one:

The cost of having someone on staff for bookkeeping in a small church often means combining the role with another role to make the job enticing enough.  For other churches, it means hiring someone part-time who may not have a great deal of experience.  Yet, for many others it means asking a volunteer treasurer to maintain the accounting.  Hiring someone who is trained and does bookkeeping for many organizations means they can give you higher quality work at an affordable price.

Accuracy and expertise are critical for good financial health in any organization.  Having a trained and qualified bookkeeper means having an expert who knows the right way to make entries, understands and complies with local and federal requirements, and ensures your reporting is accurate.

Internal controls are a key area where churches are at risk.  Having someone outside of the financial system reconciling your bank accounts, tracking and verifying your deposits and checks means there is a second set of eyes going over all of your system, increasing the safeguarding of your congregation’s resources.

No two churches are the same.  The needs of each church vary due to size, availability of volunteers, resources, and staffing abilities.  Church Training Center offers several packages to help churches with exactly what they need from managing your financial system to coming alongside and helping the one that is in place.  Here are three of our packages.  You can contact us to have one customized for your congregation:

Congregation CFO Package

Have an expert maintaining your financial system, providing you accurate financial statements, and meeting with you quarterly to help you maintain your financial health.  Ensure your congregational leadership understands their role as a governing body.  Receive coaching on the development of individualized financial controls and procedures that safeguard your resources.  Receive expert analysis of your budget and have help just a phone call away.

  • Prepare monthly financial statements, including income statement with comparisons to budget and prior year, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
  • Maintain church accounting, recording all transaction, reconciling bank accounts, and providing contribution receipts to donors.
  • Tax reporting.
  • Provide governance training seminar for church leadership.
  • Provide fraud prevention seminar for church leadership.
  • Customized financial policies & procedures coaching.
  • Review and assist with classification of employees vs. independent contractors.
  • Quarterly video-conference to review financials, fund raising efforts, and operational issues. The objective of these meetings will be to identify areas that need attention and develop action plans designed to strengthen the church.
  • Review and make recommendations regarding church’s annual budget.
  • Telephone hot line – Contact us with your questions regarding church finance, administration, or governance questions.

Congregation Controller Package

Have an expert maintaining your financial system, providing you accurate financial statements, and meeting with you quarterly to help you maintain your financial health.  Ensure your congregational leadership understands their role as a governing body.  Receive expert analysis of your budget and have help just a phone call away.

  • Prepare monthly financial statements, including income statement with comparisons to budget and prior year, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
  • Maintain church accounting, recording all transaction, reconciling bank accounts, and providing contribution receipts to donors.
  • tax reporting.
  • Provide governance training seminar for church leadership.
  • Review and assist with classification of employees vs. independent contractors.
  • Quarterly video-conference to review financials, fund raising efforts, and operational issues. The objective of these meetings will be to identify areas that need attention and develop action plans designed to strengthen the church.
  • Review and make recommendations regarding church’s annual budget.
  • Telephone hot line – contact us with your questions regarding church finance, administration, or governance questions.

Financial Advisor Package

Have an expert review your financial system monthly and prepare your statements for you.  Receive quarterly analysis and help in developing action plans to maximize your potential.  Receive expert analysis of your budget and have help just a phone call away.

  • Prepare monthly financial statements, including income statement with comparisons to budget and prior year, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
  • Quarterly video-conference to review financials, fund raising efforts, and operational issues. The objective of these meetings will be to identify areas that need attention and develop action plans designed to strengthen the church.
  • Provide governance training seminar for church leadership.
  • Review and assist with classification of employees vs. independent contractors.
  • Review and make recommendations regarding church’s annual budget.
  • Telephone hot line – contact us with your questions regarding church finance, administration, or governance questions.

Whenever our church has questions regarding how to better manage our finances, establish financial procedures, or develop our vision for responsible stewardship, Keith is our go-to consultant. We are eternally grateful for the expertise that Keith brought when we went through a staff transition and were without a bookkeeper for 6 weeks. Keith literally kept us afloat by coaching us on how to deposit all our checks for income and write checks to pay our bills. If you are reading this because you know that your organization needs help with its finances, don’t hesitate- call Keith and move from uncertainty to clarity!

Rev. Samuel Pullen, Pastor, , Community Congregational United Church of Christ

When Keith commits to an assignment, he brings enthusiasm, dedication and an eagerness to learn that are an inspiration to those privileged to work with him. He enjoys the people he serves and responds positively to challenges. I appreciate all these qualities and would recommend him without hesitation.

Rev. Donald Smith, Presbyterian Church USA

Keith has proven his extensive expertise in the Financial Control and Procedures Auditing of our financial records. He then helped us “Spring Clean” our accounting procedures by updating our accounting software to QuickBooks in order to present clear and concise financial reporting to the Board of Directors. Keith is an “answer to prayer” and an asset to Harbor Christian Church.

Cindy Barr, Treasurer, Harbor Christian Church

Keith is an experienced, visionary leader. He has the uncanny capacity to translate mission into strategy, keep track of details without losing sight of the big picture and build consensus. Keith has been a trusted counselor in the area of mission, finances, and organizational systems. He is passionate about what he does. He has been instrumental in developing a new working model for our board of directors. I know few people who have a better understanding finances and their integration of the overall mission of an organization. I highly recommend him to any organization. I base this recommendation on his intelligence, experience, knowledge, commitment, integrity, and honesty.

Rev. Dr. Felix C. Villanueva, CEO and Conference Minister, United Church of Christ in Southern California and Nevada