How to Supervise Your Church Bookkeeper

Don’t Let Your Church Bookkeeper Go It Alone

In many churches, especially smaller ones, the church bookkeeper is left to perform their duties without any assistance or supervision. Click To Tweet

Beyond the segregation of duties considerations, see How to Segregate Duties with Only One Accountant, the bookkeeper needs to be supervised just like any other employee.

Ideally your church would have a Controller or Accounting Manager that would oversee the bookkeeper, but if you do not have someone in that position, here are a few things you can do to provide adequate supervision for your church bookkeeper…

Utilize the Treasure’s Position

Most churches have a Treasurer or similar position, such as the Finance Board Chairman, that oversees the finances of the church.  Typically the role of this person would be to review month-end financial statements and perhaps sign checks during the month.

Consider getting your Treasurer a little more involved in the oversight of the bookkeeper. I am not suggesting that the Treasurer get involved in the day to day operations, but rather provide ongoing review and supervision for the bookkeeper during the month. This can be easily accomplished if your church is using an online accounting program. The Treasurer can be given “view-only” access, perform a quality review of the books on a bi-weekly basis, and provide feedback to the bookkeeper via email or even a phone call.

Ensure the Supervisor Has the Right Credentials

Many churches have volunteers that comprise their boards and committees. This is no different when it comes to financial positions such as the Treasurer or Finance Chair. I understand the old adage, “beggars can’t be choosers,” but in this case the church needs to be more selective. 

Make sure that the person charged with supervising the church bookkeeper has the proper skill set to do so. This person does not need to be a professional accountant, but does need to have an understanding of accounting and bookkeeping, otherwise it would be pretty difficult to supervise a position you know nothing about.

Consider Outsourcing

If your church is unable to fill the supervisor role internally by utilizing the Treasurer or similar position, consider outsourcing, it’s just that important. First of all, if you find yourself in this position it probably means that your bookkeeper is the sole card carrying member of a 1 person accounting department. This isn’t good for the church or the bookkeeper either. See “Why is Segregation of Duties Important in My Accounting Department?” Second, it’s important to have someone with the right skills and knowledge supervising the bookkeeper and providing ongoing quality control for your overall accounting function.

See also Benefits of an Outsourced Accounting Department

Plan Regular Performance Reviews

Have you ever been in a job where you never got any feedback on how you were doing? Over the years, I have learned the importance of regular reviews, and that goes for both the employee and employer.  No one should have to wonder whether they are doing a good job or should be doing something differently. Your church bookkeeper needs to know how they are doing and needs to be given the opportunity to express concerns. Regular performance reviews are helpful to reinforce good performance and identify problem areas in a timely manner. 

To Your Success,

Bob Swetz

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