6 Must-Know Tips for Managing Your Church's Finances

As a pastor or church administrator, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the details of managing your church’s finances? Are you worried that you might forget something or make a mistake? Is the weight of the responsibility of managing your church’s finances heavy on your shoulders?

Chances are, you will say yes to most or all of those questions, but you may also feel that it’s your burden to bear and that you have no choice.

At SBS Accounting & Advisors, we understand that managing your church’s finances can be confusing and complex, but also critical to the church’s financial and operational success.

In this blog post, we discuss six must-know tips for managing your church’s finances.

We must first understand that this is about more than just money; it’s about being a good steward of the resources that God has given you. In order to do that, you must first view it as God’s money, and then adopt his mindset for handling money.

1. Save money. It’s important that you have a safety net built into your church’s finances. This can only happen if you purposely set aside money for the future. As we have seen recently, anything can happen.

At any point, the government can step in and tell you to close your doors, a natural disaster can happen and you can show up with unexpected damage to your property, and, God forbid, your church could split and you lose half of your tithing members. On the flip side, the inverse can occur, where you explode in growth so rapidly that you find yourself needing to expand immediately.

No matter the circumstance, if you don’t prepare in advance, you may find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having to cut salaries, lay people off, or perhaps even end up having to borrow large sums of money from the bank with interest.

The easiest way to save money is to build it into your budget.

2. Learn the fundamentals of budgeting. A budget is a wonderful tool that can be used to make sure that you aren’t overspending in some areas and underspending in others. It will also help you to plan for the future. Just as in your own personal life, it’s a good idea to create a budget for the church.

A budget in its simplest form is a statement that you will not exceed spending a certain amount in a specific area of ministry for the budget year. This can be expanded by adding multiple line-items within a ministry to further track what is being spent and how.

A budget will help you not overspend within an area, while also helping you expand other areas. For example, as you tighten the financial reigns on one area, you can free up resources to fund another area.

It’s always a good idea to build a little cushion into your budget, so that you don’t exceed what you bring in for the year and so that you can save a little and set it aside for whatever may come in the future.

As simple as budgeting is, it’s not possible if you do not keep track of your donations and expenses.

3. Keep track of donations/expenses. If you are not currently doing this, I can’t stress it enough – please start doing this now! When it comes to taxes, you must have a record of what you are bringing in and what you are spending.

There is plenty of great software on the market to help you with this. For example, we can help customize the Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online to ensure you’re properly keeping track of donations.

If you are already doing this, then you know how it can help you plan for the future. Obviously, in ministry, we can’t become expectant of donations, as they are reliant upon the fortune of others and their own spiritual walk with the Lord. But, keeping track of donations – aside from the legal ramifications – will also help you to plan future budgets. And, tracking expenses, as explained in tip #2, will help you to manage what is being spent and aid you in your effort to not overspend and to save money.

No matter how you look at this, managing the church’s finances is a weighty responsibility, and we want to encourage you to be transparent with those on your leadership team.

4. Offer transparency with your leadership team. The Bible teaches us this in Proverbs 11: “Where no council is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.”

Transparency with your leadership offers you several benefits. First, you now have accountability. All too often, people in leadership and authority of finances fall prey to the temptation of cheating the system. The best way to combat this is to offer accountability. Not only does this prevent those in charge of the finances from doing something they shouldn’t do, but it also gives the church members comfort in knowing that there are other people checking on the finances and making sure that everything is being handled above board.

Second, you now have access to more wisdom and knowledge. As questions about finances arise, you now have a resource pool to ask questions and seek answers from. These leaders can aid you in your search for the right way to handle whatever financial decisions may come your way.

Third, you’re no longer the only person responsible. This means that if questions arise about any decisions that were made, there are now others who can answer those questions, too. You no longer have to be the only person with the answers.

No matter how many people are involved in helping make financial decisions, one of the best rules you could ever follow is to make sure to have thoroughly vetted every decision. Never make a decision based on an assumption.

5. Don’t make financial decisions based on assumptions. There’s a common saying associated with making assumptions … don’t worry, I won’t repeat it here. But, suffice it to say, doing so tends to leave the people who made the assumption not look so good.

When dealing with the overwhelming decisions of your finances, it can be tempting to move forward on a hunch, or because of an assumption of what the future might hold. But, as mentioned, this is God’s money, and we need to handle it with care and in the way that he would handle it.

Because God is not the author of confusion, we should seek clarity before making a decision. It may take extra time, but vetting out a decision is always the best course of action. I am not saying that you need to remove faith from the matter of finances. Nothing in life is certain, aside from death, taxes, and the return of Christ, so there will always be an element of faith in making a decision. But, what I am saying is that when there is an answer to be found, go find it before making the decision.

Doing this, along with the other tips I have shared in this blog, will result in you and your church’s finances being handled with integrity.

6. Operate with integrity. Our witness and our integrity is important to God. How we conduct ourselves, and how we handle the tasks we have been given here on earth, is important to God. This is true for handling his money here on earth, too.

Operating with integrity is not only pleasing to the Lord, but also pleasing to those you are serving at your church. We must remember that while the church’s finances belong to the Lord, they were supplied by the members of the church. They have given it to the Lord and are asking you to steward it wisely. When you operate with integrity, you are pleasing the Lord and giving confidence to those who gave in the first place.

Even when you have adopted the mindset of God for handling his finances, it’s important to remember that you’re still operating within man’s system here on earth. And, in America, there’s a lot of laws that you can get tangled up with. That’s where we come in.

Ready to Take Control of Your Church’s Finances? We’re Here to Help!

At SBS, we would love to speak with you and discuss how we can help you and your church serve God and use his finances legally. We want to come along side of you and aid you, as you walk through the legality of the financial system, with the goal of serving God and spreading the work of his ministry.

If this interests you, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

How to Handle Negative Reviews – and Get More Business

No matter what you do, you simply can’t please everyone. Of course, realizing this doesn’t make you feel any better when someone leaves a bad review of your business online.

These reviews can make or break your business – sometimes overnight. Good ones can send you more business, while enough single (or no) stars and toxic comments can send you spiraling and ruin your reputation. However, bad online reviews are not always deal breakers if you handle them correctly.

Having had my own business for more than a decade (thanks to you and your support!), I have seen the power of reviews. At SBS Accounting & Advisors, we’d like to offer our advice on how to handle negative reviews, and generate reviews that win you more business, and build your reputation and rapport with others.

Why Reviews are so Important

In today’s digital landscape, your competitors are only a click or search away, and online reviews make up a large component of whether consumers choose you or your competitors.

Just how large? Consider that 15 percent of users don’t trust businesses without reviews, according to recent stats, while one business review can increase your conversions by 10 percent, according to RevLocal. On top of that, BrightLocal reports that a staggering 91 percent of millennials trust online reviews as much as friends and family – a key demographic you’ll want to build a rapport with, and win over, in the online consumer community.

Connecting with consumers, and getting them to write reviews, takes time, but it’s well worth it. A stunning 89 percent of consumers won’t take action before reading reviews, according to My Testimonial Engine. And, the majority of consumers won’t even use a business if it fails to produce a 4-star rating or higher, according to Brightlocal.

Generating Reviews

Reviews are clearly important, so how do you generate them to grow your business?

Start with creating an organic process for gathering reviews – and make it easy. Simply ask customers to write a review immediately after you’ve helped them with a solution. This is not only a natural approach, but also the best moment for getting them to write a review. Their experience is top of mind, and they should feel motivated or encouraged to express how you helped them reach their goals or fix an issue.

If you are worried about being too pushy about asking for a review, don’t be! A welcoming 86 percent of consumers would consider writing a review for a business, according to Brightlocal, and no one is more equipped to give you a review and capture the attention of prospects than your loyal customers.

Getting reviews is a great start, but you’re far from finished in getting the most out of the review process. Here are some helpful tips for what to do next:

  • Thank every reviewer. This is an absolute must to show that you care and appreciate the time they took to boost your credibility and performance. Gifts or flowers are a nice touch, but there’s no need to spend money; nothing makes an impression like a handwritten thank you note.
  • Return the favor. Consider writing a review for your customers. Just like their review of your business can help you, you can also help them. Don’t forget that these reviews can go on your website, as well as business review sites such as Yelp, making them easy for others to see and want to do business with you.
  • Monitor, monitor, monitor. Staying on top of reviews and responding to them is important. The last thing you want is for your customer writing the review to feel ignored or like they wasted their time. Respond swiftly to their review and offer more than a like or terse reply. Let them know how you feel about their positive review and how much you care about what you did for them.

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Now to address the elephant in the room. Negative reviews are inevitable, and your customers know that. In fact, an enormous 95 percent suspect censorship or faked reviews if there aren’t any negative ones, according to Reevoo. It’s how you handle those reviews that will make or break your business.

What happens when you get a bad review? Sometimes, client and service provider relationships just aren’t good fits, but handling the situation correctly can actually help your business.

First, don’t take it personally – and certainly don’t respond that way. Think of a negative online review the way you’d think of a customer complaint delivered another way, say over the phone or in person. Online is no different.

Try to address a negative review transparently and quickly. An honest response is best. And, if you share a proactive response that solves the matter, readers of the review may see it as a big misunderstanding and really appreciate how you handled the poor review. On top of that, the person who gave the bad review could provide a follow-up response of how you resolved the issue. If they haven’t after a few days, don’t hesitate to see if they will post another comment – it can’t hurt to ask!

Remember that as you compose your response, you’re not circulating a document internally before releasing to the public. This is going public immediately. Of course, you want to be proactive and quick, but you may want to take the exchange offline first.

Ask how to contact the reviewer and when they are available. After that, follow up with them to make sure they feel you addressed their grievance. Before talking to them, stop for a minute and think about this: Does the negative review have merit, and is there some aspect of your business that you need to work on? Don’t be shy about sharing the criticism with your staff – they can help you improve if that is what’s needed.

As you gather your reviews and continue to grow your company, you’ll want to spot the negative reviews as quickly as possible. If you think you caused a problem for a client and you expect a negative review, actively search online for it. You don’t want to stick your head in the sand over negative reviews – or over positive ones, for that matter. With the right tactics and approaches, you may find handling negative reviews can actually greatly improve your business.

Want Help Building and Executive Your Own Review Process? We are Here to Help!

At SBS, know that we are always here for you and only want to see you live happy, healthy lives and reach all of your goals and potential in your business. Part of accomplishing this is ensuring you have the reviews and response necessary to not just build trust and rapport with potential customers, but also drive your search engine optimization (SEO) results, making your business easier for potential customers to find.

So, if you ever want to just talk things out, or explore some of the topics and strategies discussed in this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You’ll be one step closer to connecting with your community and generating more business.

5 Valentine Wishes to You and Yours

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we hope that everyone gets the chance to connect with their loved ones during these challenging times.

Valentine’s Day is all about chocolates, flowers, love letters and fancy dinners, but at SBS Accounting & Advisors, we want to take some time and share what we would love to see happen in 2021 – for you and the world around us.

Here are our 5 wishes for you, your loved ones, your business and the world around us.

Wish #1: All of us to Rebound Personally and Professionally

Even for the most positive and optimistic person, the last year has been difficult. It’s tested our mental health, put a strain on our businesses, challenged our work/life balance like never before, and literally forced us to question every decision – and step – along the way.

When trying to manage such heavy issues, we believe it’s best to not only have someone to talk to, but someone who will support and guide you, and help you and your business survive and move forward. At SBS, we want to be that person for you. Your happiness, success and well-being are what matters to us the most.

Wish #2: All of us to Take Self-Care Seriously

With all the adversity and roadblocks the last year has presented, never has our self-care and well-being mattered more.

To get through these unprecedented circumstances, it takes a great deal of mental and physical strength. So, whether it’s meditation, taking time to stretch in the morning, working out, resetting before each day, carving out time with loved ones, taking breaks or something else, find the time to do what you enjoy that helps you work on your self-care, destress, recharge and get to a better place.

Wish #3: All of us to Treat Each Other Better and Care for One Another

Taking care of ourselves isn’t the only way we’ll get through this; we must care for those around us to get through the pandemic and other struggles of the past year.

We must all be better people and better citizens to benefit the great good of humanity. When we all love each other and truly care for one another, we can come together and achieve great things.

Wish #4: All of us to Stay Safe and Overcome Our Fears

At SBS, we pray each day that you stay safe and get what you need to overcome.

We all have fears, but we must all overcome those fears to persevere in these trying times. The most successful business owners are those who are willing to face their fears and overcome them. Life’s current challenges are no different.

Wish #5: All of us to Build Resilience

As devastating and terrifying as the last year has been, this won’t be the last challenge we face. As small business owners, we must learn to adapt and see these challenges as opportunities to grow.

Because this isn’t going away any time soon, we can’t just wait this out. As leaders, we must move forward and be proactive. At SBS, we strive to do this for you, helping take you to the next level by providing powerful solutions to your everyday needs.

You are Not in this Alone – We are Here for You!

While we hope Valentine’s Day offers some much-needed time with your loved ones, we are looking at the bigger picture at SBS. We want you to be happy, healthy and prosperous – both in your life and your businesses.

I hope that these Valentine’s Day wishes for 2021 resonate with you, and know that you are not alone. We want to be a team that you can talk to about anything, lean on for guidance and support, and help get you through this tumultuous time.

So, if you just want to talk, or look at putting proactive plans in place to grow your business and move forward, contact us today. We would love to hear from you!