Automation eliminates as many manual tasks as possible, reduces human error, and streamlines various processes. To automate a financial task, a treasurer or financial manager identifies repeatable, logical, mundane tasks that are done on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. Once identified, a financial manager works to find and optimize available technology to help reduce the time it takes to do these tasks.
Simple e-giving systems reduce the time it takes to record donations, and they import directly into a donor management system. This allows both you and your donor to see donation history in real-time. Consider asking donors to set up recurring online gifts, specifically during the summer months, when people go on vacations and giving to the church tends to take a dip.
Pinpointing dips in giving
An automated process can trigger an email to the appropriate church leader when someone stops giving. Then a church leader can call the donor who has stopped giving, and that may lead to an opportunity to minister to that person. Maybe the person lost a job, retired, became upset over a rumor, or is going through some tough financial times.
Budget reports can be automated. Most accounting software programs export budget information into Excel. Macros—special instructions containing a number of steps that you set in advance and then have Excel perform for you with one command—can convert your data to a simple email. This can give those who donate, or those who spend, a quick snapshot of what’s left in that project’s budget. With time saved through this system, you now have time to craft thank-you emails or letters that communicate vision and results to the donors.
Rather than paying your electric bill or mortgage with a paper check every month, set up a direct debit, and have the bills emailed to you. This makes it easy to save them electronically. With the time you save, you can explore ways to buy energy in bulk or refinance your mortgage and, subsequently, reduce your electric or mortgage payment.
A paperless audit trail can be implemented with electronic signatures along with pictures of the receipts. Rather than tracking down check signers to sign a paper check, use an electronic-signature check approval system to direct deposit to your vendors and staff or volunteers who need reimbursement.
Automate, but verify
One word of caution: Automation is not “setting it and forgetting it” in regard to the tasks that you automate. Always make time to review the automation.
For help automating systems and choosing appropriate software, see these resources and articles: