Every church needs a tool for tracking its finances. There are many church fund accounting software packages to choose from and a subset of those are specifically geared towards churches or nonprofit organizations. This review highlights the functionality of ShelbyNext Financials, part of the Ministry Brands family of products. Churches can leverage the integration between ShelbyNext Membership, FellowshipOne or Elexio and ShelbyNext Financials for a complete ChMS and accounting suite.
Overview of ShelbyNext Financials
ShelbyNext Financials is a cloud-based fund accounting system specifically geared towards churches, ministries, non-profit organizations, and denominational headquarters. It is FASB 117 and GAAP compliant.
Within ShelbyNext Financials, you can process purchase requests, pay vendors, receive payments, track fixed assets, manage the budget and general ledger, pay employees, and reconcile bank accounts. Each module (accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc.) displays a dashboard and links to main tasks for that module. From there, you can quickly access the screen needed to perform your next accounting task.
Benefits and Features of ShelbyNext Financials
The Purchasing Management module is where you can create Requests (aka Purchase Requests). When implementing the system, you’re able to create approval paths based on dollar amount and which user needs to approve each dollar limit. The approver will receive an email letting him/her know there’s a Request waiting on approval. If approved, the Request moves to the next approver (if applicable) or is completed at that point and becomes a Purchase Order or Check Request. The person who originated the request will receive notification that the Request was approved. If the approver denies the Request, he/she can add comments to explain that decision and the requestor will receive that information.
You can quickly see which Requests are awaiting approval by going to Manage – Requests.
From the Accounts Payable home screen, you can add vendors, enter credit card transactions, enter transactions (invoices), enter recurring payments, pay vendors, and more. ShelbyNext Financials offers the ability to operate on a Cash or Accrual basis and to pay vendors via check, ACH, or electronic funds transfer.
When entering an invoice, the system will indicate if there’s a purchase order for that vendor in the Purchasing Management module. This enables you to quickly link the invoice to that purchase order. You can also attach a file or scan a document and attach it to the invoice.
Once you’ve entered an invoice, you’ll need to post the invoice, then pay it now or wait until the invoice is due to send a check or other form of payment.
There are several reports available within the Accounts Payable module including:
- Cash Requirements
- Aged Analysis
- Vendor Summary
- Contractor Report
- Vendor List
- Distribution Information
- Vendor Labels
You can export reports into various formats such as PDF, Excel, CSV, Word, and more.
As a former Accounts Payable clerk, I often received calls regarding whether we’d received an invoice or when we were going to pay an invoice. To search for an invoice in ShelbyNext Financials, you go to Accounts Payable, then click on View – Transaction Inquiry. You can use the invoice number, vendor, amount, and other fields to search for a particular invoice. Once you find the invoice in question, you can see whether it was paid (and if so, the check date and check number), if the invoice is scheduled for payment soon, and other details.
Depending on your church’s situation, you might receive payments for a Mother’s Day Out program, a school, or another program. Within AR, you can set up multiple Revenue Centers each with various item codes (used to bill for services, activities, or goods).
From the main AR screen, you can add or edit customer information, enter invoices, enter payments, search for transactions, and manage transaction processing. You can also print or email statements or invoices, post unapplied cash, print an aging report, and more.
This module includes all posted journal entries with the ability to drill-down into the original transaction located within the appropriate module (AR, AP, etc.). You can also manually enter journal entries and manage the church budget from within the GL.
The GL includes several reports such as a Detailed Ledger, Functional Expense Report, Statement of Financial Position, Trial Balance Worksheet, and many more. You also have the option of creating a new report using the “Special Reports” function.
Your Chart of Accounts structure can include up to three levels of Balance Sheet accounts and up to three levels of Budgeted accounts. The account length can be from 4-15 digits and include sub-accounts if desired.
Fixed Assets are items such as computers, furniture, land, buildings, vehicles, and other property with a useful life that exceeds one reporting period (typically a year). You can enter new fixed assets, calculate asset depreciation and book it to the GL, manage inventories, and more from within the Fixed Assets module.
Fixed Asset reports include Depreciation History plus a “Selections and Listings” report builder you can use to create custom reports.
Bank Account Management
Within the Bank Account Management module, you can reconcile bank accounts, enter transactions (such as service charge fees), run reports, add or modify bank account information, and more. When reconciling a bank statement, you can import the statement from your bank if it provides that in a qif, ofx, qfx, or xlsx file format.
The Payroll module gives churches the ability to process employee checks or ACH / direct deposit payments from the system. ShelbyNext Financials maintains federal, state, and local tax tables and handles minister designations for taxable/non-taxable compensation. You can facilitate payroll for hourly and salaried employees from within this module.
You can also manage W2s, track employee’s time off, plus a variety of government reporting needs.
Workflow and Usability of ShelbyNext Financials
If you’ve used another accounting software before, you shouldn’t have much trouble with the basic navigation of ShelbyNext Financials. Entering transactions, viewing reports, and processing approvals are fairly straightforward. I’ve used a handful of different accounting systems and, while I was able to perform basic functions without any training, I did use the Help and training videos in various screens to clarify a few aspects of the system. Running anything beyond a basic report or performing more complicated tasks will definitely require training. That’s certainly not unique to ShelbyNext Financials but still worth mentioning.
Administrators of the system can add users and set each user’s access rights from the Security Setup module. This is key for ensuring proper segregation of duties. You can limit what functions of each module the individual can perform and even limit the accounts they can work with. The implementation process should include plenty of time to consider who should have access to what functions, setting that up within the system, and testing it to confirm you’ve successfully completed the security set up as desired.
User Satisfaction and Comments
ShelbyNext Financials has a four of out five-star rating at Capterra. Reviews of ShelbyNext Financials tend to indicate that the software includes what most churches will need from an accounting system (especially considering the need for fund accounting). However, some reviews mention the learning curve involved plus concerns about customer service and technical support.
Within most screens, you can click on a video icon to view an instructional video on how to use the functions on that screen. For example, in the Accounts Payable module, you can view a video on how to process an invoice from the “enter transactions” screen. You can find documentation about each function within the Help menu. You can also email or call their US based support center.
When purchasing the cloud-based software, Shelby support is included in the cost of the software. The installed version has an annual fee based on the annual budget of the church.
Technology Details / Specifications
ShelbyNext Financials is a cloud-based tool, so there’s no special hardware required to get started. If you choose to host it yourself, you can contact Shelby Systems for exact hardware specifications.
ShelbyNext Financials is offered in two different installations. It is offered as a hosted solution (or cloud-based software) and you can also install it locally on your own server. Both are priced based on the church’s annual budget and are priced in tiers. For specific pricing information, one of their Ministry Consultants can help when you contact them here.
ShelbyNext Financials includes the accounting functionality churches need to properly steward their finances. As you consider various accounting software options, keep in mind that software which isn’t specifically geared towards non-profit organizations may not have all the fund accounting features you’ll need. Also, if you prefer an all-in-one ChMS and accounting solution, you have the option to integrate with ShelbyNext Financials ShelbyNext Membership, Shelby Arena, or other Ministry Brands products.