Inventory for religious organizations can be both physical items and skill sets of congregation members willing to donate their time. Those willing to donate their time and expertise should be accounted for so they may be properly utilized to the church's benefit. Physical church assets should be documented in writing with documents stored safely in multiple locations. Multiple people can help prepare an initial church inventory, but the maintenance and secure storage of it should be assigned to one designee. Gathering initial inventory could take as long as a week and annual inventory reconciliation should take no more than a day or two. This project requires attention to detail.
Inventory of Physical Items
Obtain a ready-made church inventory form from the Internet or create your own using spreadsheet software. At the top of the form, include your organization's name and spaces for both sheet number and location name. Below that, create columns titled "Serial Number, "Item Description," "Date Acquired," "Initial Value," and "Keep/Dispose." Print enough copies of the form to use in each room of church and affix to a clipboard.
Distinguish between supplies and equipment, noting a dollar amount that quantifies the distinction. For example, items with a cost under $500 each are considered supplies whereas items with a cost over $500 each are considered equipment. Because of its value, equipment should be inventoried while it is unnecessary to inventory supplies.
Create a sequential list of serial numbers using spreadsheet software and print the numbers, one each, onto 1-inch labels. The first time inventory is ever taken serial numbers should be in year-month-unique number format. The unique number is the one that will change sequentially, for example: 2011-10-1, 2011-10-2, 2011-10-3.
Start in one room and identify all items that count as equipment. Once identified, attach one serial number label on the bottom of each item so that items can be tracked.
Note the sheet number and the room name using the inventory forms on a clipboard. For each item given a serial number, record data into all fields present on the inventory form.
The description field should have an overview of the item. The serial field should contain the number you affixed to the bottom of the item. When taking initial inventory information, the date acquired and initial value may not be available. If it is, complete the form accordingly. If it is not, write the current date into the date-acquired field and estimate the value. If an item is being kept, simply put a check in the field. If it is being disposed, note the date of disposal.
Move from room to room repeating steps 4 and 5. Remember to continue to note the sheet number and the name of the room at the top of each sheet as you change locations.
Make single copies of the completed inventory forms. Place one copy each, in sequential order by sheet number, into a three-ring binder. Place one binder at a secure, offsite location and the other onsite in an administrative office. Follow inventory procedures at least once a year.
Inventory of Skill Sets
Obtain a ready-made church volunteer form from the Internet or create your own using spreadsheet software. Include fields for "Name," "Address," "Telephone Number," "Email Address," "Days Available" and "Hours per Week Available." In a column down the page, list the skill sets or roles required and instructions for volunteers to circle areas of interest, such as bus driver, food service volunteer, activities coordination, and food pantry donations clerk.
Distribute the form during Sunday school or a church service or send it out via mail with a request for its return to a specific location on or before a specific date.
Insert the forms into a three-ring binder, or for ease of use, create a digital database with volunteers' personal information and interests. This way, direct contact can be made with interested members of the congregation, and administrative staff can accurately see the resources available to the church.
Distribute new volunteer forms no later than once annually. If updated forms are not returned for the person who previously filled them out the year before, then make phone contact to determine if they would still like to donate their time in the areas they previously noted and make changes accordingly.
Translating physical inventory sheet data into a digital spreadsheet provides a third point of safekeeping.
Adding new items to inventory as they come in will ensure that their acquisition date and initial value are properly recorded.
Revise the volunteer form annually to include new skill sets or positions.
Allowing more than one person to be in charge of inventory may cause confusion and lead to double-entry or disorganization.
Based in Austin, Claire Ashton is an entertainment writer with a background in artist management/development, public relations and event coordination. She contributes to "The Austin American-Statesman," "Paste Magazine," "Venus Zine," "Stomp and Stammer" and "Blurt." Ashton has a Bachelor of Science in advertising from the University of Texas.