When you run a spiritual place of worship like a church, profits and bank accounts aren’t the first thing on your mind. You’re thinking about structuring rituals, or how best to relay the words of the Bible to your congregants. You’re wondering how best to support your community in times of need, which special occasion is coming up, and if you have enough Spanish books for your Spanish-speaking members.
This is all wonderful, and all a crucial aspect of running a church. Unfortunately, it’s not the only part. The truth is that if you want to continue supporting your congregants you need to conceive of yourself as a business owner as well. Even if your church is a not-for-profit business entity, you still have to keep an eye on cash flow and financial statements. First, because you need to make sure that you’re remaining within the bounds of the law in all that pertains to accepting payments for services or calculating sales tax when you sell Bibles as an online vendor. Second, so that you can be secure in the knowledge that the cost of goods you’re buying (Bibles, first communion accessories, seasonal gifts, candles for devotions, and more) doesn’t overtake your income. So, what can you do to stay on the up and up without distracting yourself too much from the spiritual work you’re doing? Read on for some tips.
1. Use accounting software for your basic bookkeeping needs.
If you just need to keep track of a basic balance sheet and you don’t have employees or an online store, basic accounting software (like Quickbooks) may do the trick for your bookkeeping or personal finance needs. Accounting software will do simple things like issue invoices and track your profits and cost of goods. What this accounting system won’t do is be there to consult with if your balance sheet goes awry. This may not seem important, but it can be a liability when it comes to more complicated financial statements and tracking. It’s important to look at your finances and invest in Quickbooks inventory software to keep track of your expenses.
2. Find an outsourced bookkeeping or accounting service.
Just because you’re not a bookkeeper doesn’t mean that your financials are doomed. As a small business owner (and that’s what you are) you can outsource bookkeeping services to an external professional. For example, if you have an online store where you sell Christian books (such as large print Bibles) as a way of generating extra profits, you might turn to an eCommerce accounting professional who could work as a contractor. An eCommerce accounting professional would understand the ins and outs of platforms like Shopify and when it behooves you, the vendor, to offer free shipping and coupons or follow up with an abandoned cart. Plus, someone who understands eCommerce will be able to answer questions about best practices and how to manage a bank account or draw up an income statement. Even if you’re not moonlighting as a Christian bookstore or online vendor, many small businesses rely on the advice and support of a bookkeeper who is around during every season.
3. Buy local.
One way to keep your cash flow statement rosy is to do what you can to save. Are you buying new Bibles (like large print Bibles or Spanish Bibles) for your community? Do you need juice sets for first communion? A quick Google search for “Christian book store near me” is a great idea, since it will get you plenty of Christian bookstores in your local area whose current catalogs have the bestsellers to meet your needs, and are probably less expensive. Plus, in this way, you’ll be supporting other small businesses at the same time. While buying at local small businesses won’t make or break your finances, it’s a good way to save a little.
Whether you’re running an eCommerce business in addition to your church, or you just need to find a bookkeeper who understands terms like “accrual accounting” and “gross margin,” there are ways to make the small business owner part of your work easier. Consider a simple software, like Quickbooks, for basic invoices. For more complex work or more support, find an eCommerce professional who can help out with your balance sheet and financial statements. For all supplies (myrrh, frankincense, first communion accessories, and the like) bestow your blessings on a local Christian bookstore.