Ed Marino has 14 years of experience as a church business administrator and recently wrote an article on using images on church websites that is one of ManagingYourChurch.com's most popular articles this year. I asked him for more wisdom on how to serve well as a church business administrator—specifically on how to track down receipts from other church employees.
Church business administrators are sometimes given the responsibility of asking pastors or other church staff for receipts from purchases for the church that they made on church credit cards. Some have found that using phone apps has helped, but what have you found to be the most helpful?
We are a church of about 200, so what works for us may not work for a larger church, but we keep it very simple—only I, [the church business administrator], have a credit card. We do allow people to make purchases on their own credit cards, and then I will reimburse their expenses. This assumes that they either have a budget for the expense or that they check with me first before spending the money.
In accordance with our accountable reimbursement plan, we require a receipt for their purchases before approving the reimbursement. I do encourage people to have me place their orders, especially for large purchases, and over time more people have begun to do this. Very importantly, all my charges on the church credit card are governed by our accountable reimbursement plan, too, and must be supported by receipts, and the charges are approved by someone other than me before the monthly statement is paid.
These procedures work very well for us for the following reasons:
They simplify my accounting.
I always get receipts (or else there is no reimbursement—a real incentive).
I am often aware of special deals and discounted pricing, sometimes resulting in significant savings (a very good argument for centralizing the purchasing function even in a larger church).
For purchases I make, we avoid paying sales tax on those purchases that would otherwise be subject to tax.
The church gets most of the charge card rewards.
For more information on this, Vonna Laue offers important considerations and guidelines for churches wondering if they should issue corporate cards to pastors and staff. Richard Hammar shares four reasons a church should think twice before providing a personal credit card to a pastor. Mastering Business Expenses is a helpful e-resources on the topic of understanding church business expenses.
Ed Marino is a church business administrator from Pepperell, Massachusetts.