The Importance Of Accurate Record Keeping
Like any company, group, club, organization, or any association with members, record keeping is an essential part of the responsibilities and duties. The administration of the association is heavily reliant on the correct and precise keeping of all records and documentation necessary to the successful operation of the organization. A church congregation is no different. There is a myriad of records that need to be dutifully kept and continually updated including membership, donations, expenditures, property, bank accounts, etc.
The task of keeping accurate records and copies of all important financial documentation is usually assigned to the Treasurer who is usually appointed as an official officer of the church by the congregation's Board of Directors. The ballot may be open or secret depending on the Church's charter or decrees put in place by the Board of Directors. Those rules may be determined by each local church or by another entity. For example, all Catholic churches have rules that are determined by The Vatican. Churches, in other religions, may determine their own individual rules for the administrative duties as well as other facets of the church's operation.
It is very important that the record keeping is updated as often as possible with relation to the size of the church and its membership. The larger the church and membership, the more frequently the updates should be. To let the bookkeeping and other elements of administration go for several months without updating could spell trouble down the road. The treasurer needs to do his or her due diligence in proper, accurate, and timely record keeping to ensure the effective and successful operation of the church's business.
It is paramount that any changes to the membership be immediately updated. The members of the congregation want and need to be kept in the loop with regards to events, activities, and information about the church or membership. If there are new members, it is crucial to show them you recognize and value their membership and participation in church events.
The minutes of any Board meetings are usually recorded by the secretary. The details of those minutes must be ready and available to be provided to the International Headquarters at any time. Those minutes also need to be made public to the members as soon as possible. The members count on the administrative officers to provide accurate and detailed accounts of any meetings or situations that involve or affect the congregation. Remember, the church will not exist or succeed without its members. Like God and man, the relationship between church and member is a symbiotic one; both give and receive to and from each other.
Donations to the church may come in several forms. They may come in the form of cash, check, property, or even real estate. Whatever is received must be accounted for and documented. The church has a form for accepting contributions or donations. The church needs to keep strict, accurate records of all donations. A receipt should be given to the donor with the details described on the official receipt provided by the church.
Whenever the church pays for a service or a product, that information has to be recorded. If there is a warranty that is given with the product or service, the terms of that should be readily available. Utility bills, heating bills, rent payments, or any purchase or outlay of payment for anything must be recorded and kept up-to-date. It is imperative that the Treasurer or Secretary make sure the correct information is recorded.
The Treasurer must be able to provide any documentation with regards to property owned by the church. If the property is providing revenue for the church, the details of that income and the location are possibly subject to scrutiny by the government at any time. Those details must be kept accurate and updated as soon as anything develops or changes. The congregation may also have an interest and should be able to view those records if they so desire.
Bank and credit card accounts
All and any savings accounts, checking accounts, credit card accounts, bonds, etc are required to be recorded and kept updated and available for examination at all times. This information may or may not be available for the congregation, but it is important to keep the information current.
The responsibilities of the record keeping personnel in the church's administrative department are varied and extremely important. Accuracy and thoroughness are most critical. The person who is given these duties should be an individual whose honesty and commitment to duty and the church are unquestionable. The church and its congregation must be able to rely on that person implicitly. The keeping of records is one of the most vital elements administratively.