Tag Archives: CMS

Article by Church Tech Today – Visitation

Lauren always comes up with thought provoking questions within the church. This time it is about visitation. Is it really breaking the ice or the follow up after wards for your organization? Read her latest thoughts on Church Tech Today Website!


iPad Interview with Icon Systems

A few months ago ChurchAccountingSoftwareGuide.com posted an interview with Icon Systems addressing some common questions about church software compliance with fund accounting standards and regulations.

The Church Accounting Software Guide recently posted another interview with Icon Systems discussing benefits of mobile technology as well as how the use of tablets (such as the iPad) can improve church management and accounting. The interview also offers some great insight to some of the exciting new features of the IconCMO web app for the iPad – you can read the full article here.

How is your church currently using mobile technology? We would love to hear from you – please share your comments and stories below!


Fund Accounting Methods Compared.

Accounting for churches is radically different than accounting for for-profit businesses, or at least it should be. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB: http://www.fasb.org) has defined how accounting for a non-profit organization differs from a for-profit organization. Icon Systems has gone to great lengths in designing IconCMO to follow these guidelines in order to be compliant with all government regulations. Following these guidelines also provides churches the reports they need to effectively manage their organization. We’ll try and define some of the methods companies are using today and their benefits and faults. Before we do so, we need to change some of the terminology.

o        Income Statement is defined as Statement of Activities

o        Balance Sheet is defined as Statement of Financial Position

o        Owner’s Equity changes to Net Assets

o        Income accounts are defined as Revenue accounts.

After reviewing different church accounting software systems some common practices have arisen.

Use Revenues and Expenses to track your Funds.

When using this method and you want to start a Capital Campaign drive, it would involve creating a Capital Campaign Revenue account and a Capital Campaign Expense account. While at first this seems like a good method you quickly realize that a single revenue/expense account on each side will not help the church board understand where the money was raised or how it was spent.  This method creates headaches for the accountant that now needs a complete set of accounts defined for each fund which creates a bloated chart of accounts.

Use Liabilities to track your Funds

This involves adding a liability account for each fund that you manage. If the church has received “X” dollars that is earmarked for Hunger Relief, the money would go into the Hunger Relief liability. Once entered it is easy to see how much money is owed to the hunger relief. When money is spent against this fund, the Hunger Relief liability is reduced until it returns to zero. Unfortunately at the end of the year the church board doesn’t know how much revenue was generated for the hunger relief fund or what expenses were incurred by it. While these hurdles could be overcome with some manipulation in the revenue and expense accounts it would be difficult/impossible to view a Statement of Activities and know why money was spent on specific items.

Additionally, a General Fund that is defined as a liability account would appear to the church board as money owed. Incorrectly defining funds as liabilities will not provide an accurate Statement of Financial Position. Without the ability to see what the true balance is, the church board will not be able to make informed decisions for the organization’s mission.

Conclusion:

While both of these methods provide the basic needs for a church, they lack the ability to report needed information to manage a church effectively. Borrowing money from one fund to help another fund becomes difficult to track. Neither method will inform the church of how much money that is currently in the checking account belongs to which funds. A church could write a check and not realize until later that the money was earmarked for Hunger Relief. Neither method will provide a Change in Net Assets report. Neither method will provide a Statement of Activities or Statement of Financial Position strictly for one particular fund. These are all required by FASB for any non-profit regardless of their size.

Fund Accounting:  A Better Method

IconCMO has deviated from the prior two methods mentioned above to be compliant with FASB. Funds are no longer defined inside the chart of accounts but rather separately. Each fund can be defined as Unrestricted, Restricted and Temporarily Restricted. Each fund can use the entire chart of accounts. The only requirement is that every transaction “must” have a “fund” designation. Because of this change a person can review the checkbook and see that of the $5,000 they have in the checkbook , $3,000 belongs to the General Fund, $1,000 belongs to World Hunger and $1,000 belongs to the Capital Campaign. Now a church no longer needs multiple checking accounts, spread sheets, or other creative accounting methods to know how much money belongs to each fund.  Because of this method, IconCMO now has the ability to extract data specific to a fund.  It can easily create usable Statement of Activities and Statement of Financial Positions specific to one fund or print a Change in Net Assets report that displays the monetary change for all funds over a given date specified.  It’s simply a better way to do church accounting and manage your finances.


Mobile Technology for the Church – How will this Help the Church?

Mobile Technology – How Will It Help The Church?

Is mobile technology a passing fad or here to stay? Will only tech-savvy people embrace the advancements, or will it be common to see Grandma using her iPhone to keep in touch with the grandchildren? A recent blog post by MicrosoftTag supports the idea that mobile devices will become commonplace. The post also reported that mobile devices are expected to account for more Internet usage than desktop computers by the year 2014. How are users spending their time? Currently, the most popular uses are: games, weather, maps/search, and social networking. People enjoy using their mobile devices and are looking for new ways to exploit them other than playing Angry Birds.  New technology brings more opportunities that churches should use to help grow their faith. One of these new technologies that churches are starting to use is mobile tags.

What are mobile tags and how are churches benefiting from them?

Mobile tag for Church Software

Try it out - Visit Our Website

Mobile tags are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned using the camera from any bar-code or mobile tag enabled device. Mobile tags are able to store more information than traditional barcodes and typically act as a gateway to a website. In addition, these mobile tags point to any information that you want and can be changed over time.

Mobile concepts already used by churches:

  1. A fund raising event where churches and local merchants partner together on a specific day and the local merchant gives back a percentage of the proceeds.
  2. Have contact information encoded within the tag for the church staff so people can scan it, upload the contact information, and not touch one key on their phone.
  3. Have a tag point to this week’s sermon so users can view on their mobile device quickly for reference.
  4. Giving and voting on important issues via mobile tagging.

Why is this important to churches?

Since technology moves at record breaking speeds, your ChMS needs to move just as fast. The church should embrace mobile technology and utilize the resource to raise community awareness, increase donations, and bring ease of use to members and staff while keeping everyone as mobile as possible. Engaging members through instant communication is essential for churches; people are busier than ever before and staying productive while on the go is a must. Icon Systems, Inc. is dedicated to connecting churches with the latest technology – watch for a new mobile IconCMO product in the near future!

Using mobile technologies (such as the new mobile product for IconCMO church software) will help make the most of your time as well as the church’s. Icon Systems, Inc. will be on the forefront of this technology – bringing it to churches to ensure they can reach members, communicate vision, allow members to interact with each other, coordinate the church staff easily, and much more!

Thanks,

The Development Team!


Interview with Icon Systems at the Church Accounting Software Guide

Several of us at Icon Systems recently had the chance to be interviewed by the fine folks over at ChurchAccountingSoftwareGuide.com. We think you’ll find it well worth a read! As they wrote:

Why this Interview is a Must Read for Anyone Dealing with Church Management and Accounting

It answers (from a licensed Certified Public Accountant) some of the most common questions I get about church accounting:

  • Are there any special accounting standards our church needs to be following?
  • Can my church lose its tax-exempt status?
  • Are my current accounting reports in compliance with non-profit regulations and standards?
  • Is there a church accounting software program that can help me be in compliance with non-profit standards?
  • My church is small, do I need to worry about the accounting standards?

We also cover the general administrative challenges that churches face, some of the best accounting-related features in IconCMO, and have a detailed overview from our CPA about the federal fund accounting guidelines for churches and other non-profits.


Hardware Update for IconCMO

As many of our clients know it has been a busy time for IconCMO in the recent weeks with the software enhancements like Excel exporting for reports, accounts receivables, calendar enhancements, payroll checks, email history and contribution statements.

Now it is time for a hardware update. A few months ago we placed a new database server into the hardware architecture as a secondary server to the primary database server to ensure it would work properly for our clients. The new hardware has shown great reliability and speed.  This week the new server will become the primary database server to the benefit of all of our IconCMO clientele. This change will help with an increase of certain operations on the system. For example saving records, pulling data for reports, etc should be faster and limited only by the user’s Internet speed.

When a church elects to use IconCMO over the typical desktop system these hardware improvements are costs that are covered in the price of IconCMO. The non-profit organization does not have to bear this hardware cost in their yearly budget for replacement or the maintenance. Rest assured that Icon Systems uses top quality servers  and replaces them frequently to provide our clients with the best possible church software experience available today with IconCMO!


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