A couple of weeks ago our church accountant emailed me with an error message she was receiving from Quickbooks. As I investigated the error, I learned another valuable lesson for every church using Quickbooks or another similar accounting system.
As with most software programs, there are always newer versions and updates that are available for purchase. If you use Peachtree or Quickbooks, you’ve already noticed the versions change every year. However, you are not required to buy new versions each year to continue to use their programs. While I knew that I was taken by surprise when I found out that our accountant thought she had received something from Quickbooks indicating that we had to pay for a payroll update. With a few simple clicks, the update was downloading for free. Here is what we did…
- Clicked on the Employees drop-down menu and clicked Get Payroll Updates.
- Clicked Update to download the payroll update.
- Waited for the download to finish as we watched the progress bar.
- Clicked OK when it was finished.
So what church accounting software should our church consider using?
That is a difficult question to answer for every church because of the complexities of each ministry. However, a few things to consider are:
- Does our church have one dedicated (volunteer or paid staff) to handle the accounting for the church? If this is the case, then you may want to visit with them to find out their background, experience and desired longevity in the job / ministry. You might also check with members of the church to learn how many have experience with common accounting systems such as Peachtree or Quickbooks. These members could serve as “troubleshooters” for your dedicated accountant.
- Does our church have a rotating member of the church or leadership responsible for the accounting system / entry of the church? If this is the case, you may want to consider a system that is more industry “standard” such as Quickbooks that many small businesses use. It is highly likely that you will have several people in the church that use Quickbooks on a weekly basis and may have the time to volunteer to help with the church accounting. For small churches on a limited budget, you might consider using these free Excel spreadsheets provided by Freechurchaccounting.com.
- Does our church accounting system need to include the giving / donations from the church members or will that be tracked in a different system? I’ve known several churches who use a simple or complex Excel spreadsheet or their church management software program to track donations and strictly use Quickbooks or Peachtree for the accounting functions.
- Does our church want the church accounting system to be an all inclusive system? If so then, I’d suggest that one take a deeper look at the two “industry” standard accounting systems. Peachtree for Nonprofits may be overkill for a small church, but it is an option. Quickbooks Nonprofit is a little bit more affordable, but may not offer all the features needed.
Because I’m a techie and not an accountant, here are some additional resources that may help you in your research.
- Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability - This is a wonderful resource for answers for church accounting practices and policies. The Knowledge Center is especially helpful in gathering good reliable information for church accounting practices.
- Freechurchaccounting.com - This is a new site to me which looks like it has some very helpful articles and information on it for church accounting. You might also want to check out the article on “Is Quickbooks Overkill for a small church?”