Churches are non-profit organizations. As such, the staff depends on donations to fund the church's operations, including paying salaries, utilities, and other bills. Much of those donations come from the members of the church. Some religions believe in tithing, where you give a percentage of your monthly income to the church. Sometimes, donations come in from outside sources, such as a local business who wants to support one of the church's outreach ministries. Either way, a procedure needs to be in place to receive those donations.
Appoint a committee or person to be in charge of tracking the donations. Often, this is the church's business manager. Then, create a donation policy that states that the church will decide how to use the funds as determined by the area of greatest need.
Create a form for donors to fill out when they make their donations. It should include the name and address of the donor and the amount of the donation. It should also have a line for a church representative's signature. Whenever possible, fill out this form while the donor is donating, and hand it to them as they leave. Otherwise, mail it to them as soon as possible after the donation is made.
Use a spreadsheet program, such as Excel, to track the donations. Donations to non-profit organizations are tax deductible, so you will need to track how much money each person or organization donates for tax purposes. In addition, this will help you see where the money is coming from -- which business or people are the most frequent donors -- and in what form, be it checks, online donations or cash.
Create a method for handling the cash after the collection plates are passed around or when lock boxes, which are often set up for ongoing donations, are emptied. At least two people should count and record the money together. This should be done on a regular basis; usually weekly.
Send thank-you letters after each donation, if you know who donated the money. Or, if the donations are too frequent to be practical, send out quarterly thank-you letters to those who donate on a regular, ongoing basis.
Use a spreadsheet program to prepare and mail contribution letters in January to every donor. The letters should include an itemized list of donations.
Consider setting up a way for donors to donate money online. Many people are comfortable with that, and it creates an automatic paper trail that is easy to track. Occasionally, individuals may donate non-monetary items to the church, such as furniture. In these cases, it is best not to try to place a value on the donation -- let the donor do that -- but still offer them a signed receipt. To avoid becoming a storehouse of other people's castoffs, develop a policy for non-monetary donations. For example, you might accept them only during the weeks before a church yard sale, or when you are collecting for a special occasion such as a coat drive.
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