Church Bookkeeping Services

Many churches rely on volunteers. But volunteers can only go so far. At some point, you need skilled professionals—especially when it comes to managing the books.

The problem for many churches is that they can’t afford full-time accountants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average bookkeeping/accounting clerk earns about $41,000 per year. And that doesn’t factor in the associated costs of hiring. Benefits, retirement, health insurance, and more can all impact how much it costs to hire a full-time bookkeeper.

It’s true that churches are exempt from paying taxes if they qualify under IRS code. But the cost of keeping a full-time bookkeeper—especially at a church that doesn’t need full-time work in that regard—can be prohibitive. How are churches supposed to make the most of their budget while also keeping tabs on their books?

The answer may be in virtual church bookkeeping services. A virtual assistant with a background in bookkeeping can not only help keep a church’s finances in line, but can do so without the full-time commitment. In this way, churches can access the skills and experience of a professional who has worked in bookkeeping before—but without the associated investment.

In this article:

What a Church Bookkeeping Service Can DoWhat Does Life Look Like When a Church Uses Virtual Bookkeeping Services?The Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Church Bookkeeping ServiceHow to Get Started with a Virtual Bookkeeping Service for ChurchesFAQs about Bookkeeping for Churches

What a Church Bookkeeping Service Can Do

When looking for a bookkeeper, many churches go the traditional route. They might look for someone within the local community who can take on bookkeeping tasks on a volunteer basis. The problem is that this means that the church’s accounting system is only as updated as its software is, as long as the volunteer is working.

What happens when the volunteer is away? A church can quickly lose track of its cash flow, its balance sheet, and even its financial statements. Getting things done often requires playing catch-up.

A virtual assistant with bookkeeping experience, however, can turn things around. By implementing a virtual accounting system that relies on cloud-based software, a church can keep its books updated, accurate, and ready for a virtual bookkeeping assistant. A church’s accounting needs can be met without the major investment of a full-time employee.

Consider everything that a church bookkeeping service can do:

  • Staying updated with the latest accounting software. These days, churches can save money when they use efficient bookkeeping software. This software can even incorporate financial statements automatically, reducing the amount of time and labor spent in keeping the books updated. An experienced church bookkeeping virtual assistant can help a church upgrade its systems to have this in place.
  • Bank reconciliations. Using a trusted bookkeeper is important. Handling bank reconciliations requires that kind of trust. But it’s an important task. It double-checks that the money is where the church believes the money will be. This helps prevent bookkeeping “surprises” that creep up along the course of the calendar year.
  • Basic accounting services. Keeping up-to-date on your financial statements is important. But so are all of the basic accounting services that keep you “in the know” when it comes to your church bookkeeping services. Whether that’s incorporating a basic software service like QuickBooks or reconciling your bank accounts with your internal data, basic accounting services help fuel the essential church management tasks that are essential for keeping things going.
  • Credit card monitoring. Church accounting services don’t only have to apply to those aspects of finance that are unique to church accounting software. Other services, such as monitoring an expense card, can be vital in helping identify and preventing fraud.
  • Financial reporting. Let’s say that your church is about to have a budgeting meeting. Do you have the financial reporting in place to know exactly where your church currently stands with its money? If not, a church bookkeeping service can help you stay “in the know” with proper financial reporting available at all times.
  • More internal controls. When you’re in charge of your own church bookkeeping services and outsource to a VA, it means you have more internal controls. You’re not beholden to another service out there, and whether or not they’re closed. 
  • Monthly bookkeeping and payroll services. Churches need to keep tabs on their books and handle payroll, too. That’s why a consistent bookkeeper is so important. Handling everything from payroll services to monthly financial statements means your church can stay up-to-date on everything that’s going on.

Preparing for tax filings. Tax filings can be a stressful time of year for anyone. Outsourcing some of the work in preparing for tax filings helps reduce this stress.

What Does Life Look Like When a Church Uses Virtual Bookkeeping Services?

You might be familiar with what a basic bookkeeping service can do for you. But why go virtual? What are the advantages of using church bookkeeping services that work on a remote basis? 

Here’s a glimpse of what life might look like when you’ve effectively outsourced your bookkeeping:

  • Easier budgeting meetings. Budgeting is difficult when you don’t have the accurate data you need. Let’s say you have a monthly budgeting meeting with volunteers from the local community. How much easier will their lives be if your virtual bookkeeping assistant has kept detailed financial reporting since the last meeting?
  • Bookkeeper conveniences. When new financial data comes in, or you need to manage receipts, imagine being able to say “I’ll hand this off to my bookkeeper.” That’s the convenience of having someone in your corner. 

Getting things done via your favorite software. Let’s say you use software like Aplos. Can you be confident that a virtual bookkeeper can “onboard” into your systems and take things from there? Not only should you be confident in it, but you should expect that an experienced bookkeeper can maintain the same software you’ve been using. There’s no reason you should expect a workflow interruption simply because you’re bringing someone aboard to help. If anything, the workflow should get easier.

The Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Church Bookkeeping Service

Let’s be honest. Everything you saw above is something that a live, full-time bookkeeper can do for your church. So why think about a virtual bookkeeping service in the first place?

There are a number of benefits to consider here. The first? Cost. Simply put, hiring a virtual assistant is going to be more cost-flexible than hiring a full-time bookkeeper. Value walk notes that “companies that hire virtual assistants benefit from lower costs because they are not required to provide any benefits, equipment, paid training, or bonuses.” There’s no reason to assume this wouldn’t apply to churches who want to stretch their outgoing dollar as well.

The second benefit is productivity. Believe it or not, working remotely can have tremendously positive effects on a person’s productivity. In fact, some 91% of virtual workers report feeling more productive when they work from home. On average, a worker with an eight-hour workday is only productive for up to about three hours of that time

For churches, making the most of every dollar is important. Those dollars aren’t easy to come by. That’s why paying a virtual assistant for their bookkeeping services—and only the bookkeeping services—can be such a wise investment. It means that you’re only paying for the work that’s done. It’s a fair, equitable arrangement that helps you get the most out of your bookkeeping. And for the virtual assistant, it provides a stable, flexible source of income.

How to Get Started with a Virtual Bookkeeping Service for Churches

Maybe you’re convinced. Great! But how do you get started with a virtual bookkeeping assistant if you’ve never hired virtually before? Don’t worry. The process is much simpler than you might imagine:

  • First, get started with an account at Delegated. You can head over to our pricing page and select the option that makes the most sense for your current budget. Create a free account and you’re in!
  • Next, work with a customer success manager. We want someone in your corner who can help steer you through the next stages of the process. This is when you’ll want to define exactly what it is you need out of a virtual bookkeeper. What will you need them to do most often? What kinds of software will they have to use? What kinds of experience will you be looking for?
  • Select your virtual assistant. This is an exciting step, because it means that you’re almost ready to get things going. Review the skills and experience of the virtual assistants in question and select one whose experience most matches your needs.
  • Onboard your VA. Let them know about the software you use, the bookkeeping needs your church has, and anything else that might be relevant to how they handle your books. Share the essential information they’ll need to get plugged into your systems. Now’s the time to start bookkeeping!

Start growing your business and reducing overhead with Delegated

1. Meet your assistant

We’ll ask you some questions to match you with one our virtual assistants as well as a backup assistant.

2. Create a workflow

Our platform gives you the power to create a workflow that fits your lifestyle. You choose how to track time, communicate, and share files with your assistant.

3. Start delegating

You have access to your virtual assistant 8am-5pm your local time. Start delegating tasks and grow as you need.
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FAQs about Bookkeeping for Churches

Didn’t see an answer to any of your questions above? Let’s look through some of the most frequently asked questions.

How do I know whether a bookkeeper can use my specific software?

Let’s say you’re accustomed to QuickBooks. How can you be sure that the bookkeeper you hire for your church is going to be able to handle it? Simple: you can look specifically for people with QuickBooks experience! You should also include some basic facts about your QuickBooks needs within your onboarding document.

What if I don’t know how to help someone with financial reports and cash flow?

You might be used to managing a church, but the accounting of it…not so much. So how do you know whether your bookkeeper is doing a good job? How can you help them understand which tasks to undertake? For starters, you’ll want to seek out a virtual assistant who knows what you need. They might be able to assist you more than you assist them. After all, it’s in the job title.

What about accounting for tax-exempt organizations?

Whether working for tax-exempt organizations like churches, nonprofit organizations, or for-profit organizations, many of the principles are the same. A bookkeeper needs to keep track of money going in and money going out. They need to reconcile accounts. They need to keep tabs on what’s going on with the books, and prepare for tax filings. Even though your church may have a unique status, it still requires many of the basic principles in place.

Can the bookkeeper use software like Aplos?

Aplos is nonprofit and church bookkeeping software. It handles everything from basic accounting to credit card processing. You should have every expectation that your virtual church bookkeeper will be able to handle the structure you have in place. In fact, it’s important that you keep this structure in mind as you seek out the right bookkeeper for your church. Software like Aplos shouldn’t be completely foreign to the assistant you hire.

Can I get a quote first?

If you’re interested in working with a virtual bookkeeping assistant who can help you manage your church’s finances, it’s not too difficult to forecast what it might cost. You can browse our pages right here at Delegated to get an idea of the different pricing tiers. You’ll find that not only do they provide you with different options, but are often more affordable and flexible than hiring someone full-time. We recommend you review our different pricing options to have an idea of what your budget might look like. Keep in mind that you can choose lighter options that require only a small investment, or heavier options that look much more like a full-time assistant.

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