Does anybody know how Churches deal with bookkeeping? Is there any recommended software, or is it still spreadsheets?
Any advice appreciated.
The few I deal with use spreadsheets to deal with gift aid and everything else is manual, When a years records go on four pages of a cathederal analysis book there is not much to be gained by trying to train the treasurer to use a computer.
This is from 2017 but may be a useful start:https://www.stewardship.org.uk/downloads/briefingpapers/accounting-packa...
Depending on the church have you tried contacting the central organisation? for example both the Church of England and the Methodist Church provide help for local treasurers.
Xero - tracking deals with fund accounting, it takes a bit of playing around, not a fan
Quickbooks - you can use classes for your fund analysis.
Liberty accounts seem to be the best option for charities though the interface seems dated.
Go to www.datadevelopments.co.uk
Duplicated in error
The ones I deal with are a mixture of spreadsheet and manual and have never required anything more.
I've seen various software products used recently. One church uses Xero and likes the fact that several people can access it remotely. Another uses data developments. Another uses Paxton but I find that very unintuitive to use although it is designed for charities.
Depends on the size but the ones I deal with use excel.
The larger churches must use a book keeping system. There's a church in Bradford that has over £4m in income, can't see that being manual or excel!
I have just spent time putting a church on to Liberty Accounts. Not only does it cope with Fund and Activity accounting, it also has online Gift Aid and standard Church reports as well as complying with the Charities SOFA. I have used it for two other charities, but it has been particularly developed for church accounting.
I think much depends on the complexity of the church organisation and the computer literacy of the treasurer! A simple organisation can very easily get by with handwritten books or a spreadsheet system. My own church uses a spreadsheet which was developed from the older handwritten books.
In a more complex situation an accounts package is probably the best way to go. Two have been mentioned in the discussion already - Data Developments and Paxton and there are probably others. From my experience both will do a good job but personally I did not like the Paxton interface when I last looked at it. Of the two I would prefer Data Developments.
Some churches are now registered charities in their own right rather than coming under the registration of a larger entity which means reports are needed for lodging with the Charity Commission in addition to internal church reports. So this might influence the decision.
Fond commiserations for a former Church of Scotland parish treasurer. There are organisations who sell bookkeeping software for a fee - COS is one of them.
I used a slightly convoluted spreadsheet for most of 10 years 2003-13. It overlapped the Charities Commission regulations which make mincemeat of your normal small parish accounts. My spreadsheet is available for free(!!) - only you really need to be Excel proficient to use it. Let me know if you want a copy....don't really want to provide too much advice.
1) There is a committee or council meeting.
2) The chairman asks for a volunteer to be treasurer
3) Everyone makes a dive for the door and last one out get the job.
After that it depends on the person's (Victim's) experience.
Then you determine the Statutory Structure of the entity- Parochial Church council, CIC, Ltd by Guarantee, Charity.
Accounting need is then indicated by general experience and or Statutory rules applying to the entity and its size.
The only special point is, there are packages out there for clubs and similar, funded by membership subscription.
Keep in mind that some quite miniscule entities have in their rules that the accounts should be "Audited". In those cases it is worth suggesting that the wording should be changed so that instead of the word "Audit" some less fee-expensive certificate should be given.
Do remember that even if an accountant does such work for free, Professional Indemnity rules and care still apply. Hell hath no fury as a "Concerned person" yelling about a missing bottle of wine.
Always assume that with such "Jobs" you are going to lose £time. Good Luck.
I have been involved with a number of churches and book-keeping is the same as for anybody else and they do use accounts software! You can look for programs that try to deal with fund accounting if restricted funds are involved but sometimes you spend all your time trying to handle the software. For restricted funds I find you can set up a separate nominal ledger account for that fund or use some kind of additional project type code for each transaction depending on the software. The complexities arise on the presentation side if they are companies and or charities.
I use QuickBooks online for our church accounts along with Receipt Bank. Once set up accounts are really simple including the rstricted funds.
I have used data developments for Gift Aid in the past it's really good. (someone else does all that in my current church)
As a Treasurer for a church that is a registered charity, I use:
- Donations Co-ordinator (since 2013 - from Data Developments) for recording all the individual donations to each individual Fund, submitting the automated Gift Aid/GASDS claims (quarterly), etc..
- Finance Co-ordinator (since 2009 - from Data Developments) for the Fund accounting.
I reconcile the Donations package to the Finance package - and then the Finace package to the Bank accounts weekly.
Very easy to produce reports for Trustee meetings, Annual accounts, etc. - and very easy for the Independent Reviewer to check it all.