Monthly Archives: September 2011

Church Donation Software 4 Key Elements.

When churches are looking for church donation software, they should make a list of the specific functionality they want immediately. Additionally, what needs exist in the next 5-10 years for the church donation software? Smaller organizations and church plants may not be ready for online donations however; the availability of this option later is crucial.

Entry of Data – Technology has helped contribution entry in various ways to get data into church donation software. Church donation software should include manual data entry, data file upload, and the ability to update donors records for online and EFT donations seamlessly. Additionally, mistakes happen and contribution corrections should be easy to make. The process should allow you to modify the giving date, fund assignment, check/cash tracking, comments, amount, or remove the transaction completely. Integration into the church accounting module from contributions removes additional key entry mistakes and time for double entering during posting.

Pledging – Pledge tracking by fund(s) is an important way for the church to know how much can they expect to come into the organization. Pledging can tell churches when people are falling behind throughout the year. It can also advise overall how much donations are ahead or short of the total pledge for the year. Pledging on multiple year funds with various donor commitment date ranges is essential.

IRS Statements – Entering data is useless if the system cannot provide an IRS statement for donors. Churches should be able to print or email statements, with the later saving on postage. Other options on statements include the pledge amount, church logo, different formatting styles, a personal message and comments. Criteria for producing the statement can vary such as: status codes, date range, sort options, funds to include, people that have given, non givers, people that have pledged but have not given, etc.

Tax Type Categories – Tax Exempt, Taxable or IRA, should categorize all the funds to allow removal of certain fund during IRS statement preparation. The organization should be able to add or change the fund names at any time but still maintain the category. A taxable fund example is money collected for coffee or donuts on a Sunday. A tax-exempt fund is money given with no return of good or services and donors expect a donation statement. Additionally, the IRA contribution is when someone donates his or her IRA proceeds to the organization.

Church donation software is an important aspect to any church and should have the most streamlined processes in place. It should also include some of the basic concepts above for starters and additional features like a link to an acceptable fund accounting package. Additional features include transferring monies from one envelope to another, ability to change envelope numbers, print deposit slips, and create reoccurring batches. Icon Systems’ IconCMO can help churches with this process and we look forward to hearing any comments you may have on this topic.


Benefits of a Church Payroll Solution (Part II).

Church Payroll Software Cost and its Benefits

One option for churches is to outsource payroll responsibilities. Payroll services typically charge $1 or more per check, with a minimum fee of $10-25 each pay period. Additional fees are often incurred for quarterly reports and W-2 preparation. These fees can amount to a substantial number over time.

Another option is for the church to purchase payroll software, which usually requires annual upgrades. These upgrades are not only expensive, but the installation process also consumes your valuable time.

The Icon Systems payroll module provides you with an unlimited number of paychecks and pay periods for any number of employees for only $110 a year. Since the system is entirely web-based, upgrades are automatic and cost you nothing extra. Additionally, the web based capability allows payroll checks to be prepared offsite but printed on location for the staff.

Price should not be the only factor considered when choosing a payroll system. The benefits of using the right church payroll software are numerous; however, we summarized the most important ones here.

  • Confidentiality – Church payroll software needs to be password-protected so only authorized people have access to this confidential information. You can have volunteers and staff members use the system to enter contributions and even process accounts payable checks without making sensitive payroll figures available.
  • Accuracy– The importance of accuracy in any church payroll system cannot be overemphasized. Not only do employees rely on the church to calculate paychecks correctly, but reports created for the IRS and other government entities also need to be accurate. Issues concerning pay tend to quickly dissolve trust in any organization, not to mention inaccurate reporting to the government could result in heavy fines.
  • Integration – Using separate church payroll software requires you to summarize the information and record the journal entries in the accounting system. Since the IconCMO Payroll module links directly to the fund accounting records, you are able to allocate staff pay to various funds as well as obtain up-to-date, detailed reports that comply with guidelines set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB.)
  • Reliability – Icon Systems has been in the business of helping churches for the past 20 years and its certified church accounting software follows the FAS 95 and 117 guidelines. Since you trust Icon Systems to take care of your organization’s accounting needs, it makes sense to turn to us for your payroll needs also.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this two-part series about church payroll software – if you missed the first post, you can read it here.


The Secret to Affordable Church Payroll Software! (Part 1)

Payroll is one of the most difficult, time consuming, and costly administration tasks churches repeatedly encounter. Churches of all sizes are required to use “fund accounting” as described by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) guidelines. Fund accounting is a specialized way of accounting designed for non-profits; if you use this accounting method we recommend you read this informative interview with Nate at The Church Accounting Software Guide.

More often than not, Payroll + Fund Accounting = Confusion

FASB Reporting guidelines add to the difficulty, time, and costs already associated with payroll. For example, churches can use money in the General Fund and the Youth Fund to pay the Senior Pastor and Youth Pastor, respectively. Alternatively, both Pastors may be paid using money from the General Fund. On top of regular income, IRS reporting and taxes vary for items such as housing allowances and vehicle expenses. Paying church staff members can also prove to be tricky; reporting and taxes for hourly or salaried employees follow a completely different set of guidelines altogether. Payroll management also tends to get significantly more complicated for multisite organizations.

Payroll does NOT have to be time-consuming

The initial setup of a payroll system is expected to take some time; however, this task may be considered to be of lesser importance since it is not recurring. Completing the payroll for each pay period, on the other hand, needs to be fast and relatively simple. An effective, easy-to-use church payroll solution will substantially reduce the time needed for you to complete recurring payroll cycles, therefore lowering the overall costs associated with payroll. Evaluate your current payroll system by asking yourself these questions:

  1. How long does it take me to print employee paychecks?
  2. Can I pay tax liabilities to government agencies quickly and efficiently with only a few clicks of the mouse?
  3. Are the liability accounts automatically updated when I cut checks to make these payments?

*Making consistent entries to liability and expense accounts each pay cycle minimizes the likelihood of mistakes.

The Ultimate Cost-Saving Secret:

Systems that charge thousands of dollars for payroll essentially offer the same benefits and features as basic payroll software. Some of the expensive payroll systems do not even comply with fund accounting guidelines. The price of church payroll software is dependent on who enters the tax formulas, so find a package that requires the church to input the tax formulas. If your church leaders are willing to put in a few hours of work at the start, they can save the church hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year in payroll expenses.

Icon Systems has streamlined the recurring task of paying employees by incorporating payroll into the IconCMO fund accounting software system in order to reduce the difficulty, time, and high costs associated with church payroll administration!


Postal Service May Eliminate Non-Profit Discount.

The Postal Service (USPS) with the help from Rep. Darrell Issa is trying to eliminate the 40% discount for mailing that non-profits enjoy. HR2309 is the law that Congress is trying to pass which would eliminate almost all but 10% of the non-profit discount within 6 years. At Icon Systems, we forecasted this years ago when the postal service was recording annual losses and trying everything to increase revenue to cover their expenses. This bill will increase the burden on churches and other Postal Service patrons. Many church software companies were trying to get their church software PAVE/CASS certified, but these can only reduce postal costs when a discount is available. In some cases, these certifications may increase costs. With the use of electronic communication, churches can reduce or even eliminate these costs.  Providing newsletters, contribution statements (IRS statements), and other communications through electronic means within IconCMO or our partners is an easy way to save precious donations for other critical items in your church.

While we feel the elimination of the discount will not help the USPS solve their financial issues, it will strengthen each church’s resolve to use electronic communication more effectively.  Non-profits will turn to newer technology and limit their use of the USPS. Icon System’s IconCMO church software is available to help churches use these technologies: cutting costs and ensuring that the church saves time, money and resources each year.


It is Here – The First Android Church Software

Icon Systems has released the first, completely functioning church software that includes membership, contributions, fund accounting, payroll, small groups, attendance, and gifts on the Android Operating System for the tablet market. We felt it important to release the full system for the tablet market and not just a “lite” or “slimmed” down version that only shows only demographic information. Why did we decide to do this for our clients? The iPad with 15 million sold in 11 months is the fastest selling technology hardware device in history – EVER. We believe tablets (Androids, iPads, etc.) will eventually replace the laptop for majority of the population. Secondly, the mobile devices adheres to our motto of Anytime, Anywhere access.

Laptops only were able to get people partially the way to being completely mobile. The tablets will take the user the rest of the way. After we released the iPad version of IconCMO on Aug. 3rd, we received a call on Aug. 17th from Steve Hewitt of CCMag about doing a cover story on mobile computing.

At the time of this writing the Android version of the IconCMO is in Beta testing and getting ready to be put out to our clients! Many people will ask why did we decide to quickly turn and do this for the Android market? There are two reasons. First, Steve mentioned a survey where majority of church leaders and staff prefer the Android tablet over the iPad for its Flash capabilities instead of the iPad. This market trend is different than the rest of the population that uses the iPad. Secondly, companies say they are the leaders in church management software with innovations but most come up short because of the technology they use is outdated for the current technology era.

When technology that is used allows you to release a full Church Management Software (ChMS) solution on an Android tablet in weeks not months or years – this shows innovation, the right technology in the right era, speed of development, agility of management, and the true leaders of the church software industry – Icon Systems. Please read the full article about mobile computing that was published in CCMag. Tell us what you think.


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