Church leaders have the weighty responsibility of managing funds on behalf of the congregation. Whether church finances are handled by a board of directors, a staff accountant or a volunteer, the expense management process can be complicated and time-consuming. It involves handling reimbursement requests and checks, monitoring spend amounts, signing off on large expenses, gathering receipts, and meeting budget targets — all on top of your other responsibilities.
Expense management platforms offer a tech-savvy way to simplify the process. Here are five solutions to common challenges that churches face when managing their expenses.
Maintaining Spending Control
You probably don’t need church staff and volunteers to request approval for every small expense, but you also don’t want to find out too late if someone spends $500 on refreshments when you’ve just restocked.
Prepaid cards with adjustable spending limits allow you to oversee expenses without micromanaging every purchase. You can set up automatic refills for routine purchases or instantly transfer funds for one-time expenses, whichever best suits the needs of your church.
Clear, established limits on spending categories are also key to protecting church funds from accidental misuse. Expense management platforms give you control over where employees and volunteers can use funds — the process is as simple as checking “yes” on gas and “no” on retail. The extra layer of accountability prevents potential spend abuse without preventing staff and volunteers from serving the church community.
Reimbursing Church Staff and Volunteers
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 it can take several weeks to receive a reimbursement check.
Prepaid cards 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.
Transferring Last-Minute Funds for Unexpected Purchases
Sometimes church expenses can be unpredictable — you need a flexible solution to keep up with on-the-fly purchases for everything from mission trips to supply shortages. If church volunteers or staff need funds for an unexpected purchase, expense management platforms with mobile apps allow you to respond in real time.
Cloud-based tools can access and manage funds 24/7, which is essential for managing Sunday and nighttime church activities. Users can request fund transfers easily via text message and church leaders can then approve them on smartphones or computers, ending delays and inefficiencies.
Getting Visibility Into Church Expenses
Maintaining accountability to your church and your congregation requires staying on top of expenses. If you rely on reimbursing employees and volunteers, you won’t have a clear picture of spending until they give you their receipts — which impacts your ability to evaluate the budget. Some churches use credit cards that are all connected to a single account, which makes it difficult to figure out who’s spending what.
Expense management platforms with mobile apps let you monitor real-time transactions 24/7. Your employees and volunteers can also check their spending history from any tablet or smartphone, whether they’re traveling across the country or down the street. Greater visibility into their purchase patterns help staff self-monitor what they’re spending, which ultimately saves money for the church. You can accurately compare what was actually spent to what was in the budget, allowing you to develop a better budget going forward.
Handling Cash and Credit Complications
Some churches rely on petty cash for routine expenses, but that’s not always practical when employees and volunteers need to make large purchases or to travel. Cash transactions, like reimbursement, are hard to keep track of while you’re waiting on receipts.
While credit cards may seem like an effective solution, they introduce the possibility of missed payments. You also 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. Prepaid cards give church staff and volunteers the flexibility to make purchases while traveling, and reduce the risk of fraud.
Managing expenses for your church can seem daunting and tedious, but it doesn’t have to be. PEX is a next-generation expense management platform and prepaid card solution that gets funds into the hands of church staff and volunteers while offering more spending control than ever before possible. The PEX mobile app gives you convenient anywhere, anytime access to funds and transaction records so you can focus on serving the church community.