Tag Archives: multisite

You asked, we listened!

We made a couple of changes to the contribution entry window:

Speed Contributions Entry:

The contribution entry screen has been slightly rearranged and modified to allow for fast keyboard access. The “currency type” option was moved up, and you can now use the “Enter” key to move between fields on the entry screen.

Allow EFT and Non-Cash Gifts in Contributions:

To enable churches to more accurately record contributions, we’ve added the ability to choose “EFT” and “Non-Cash” as currency types on the contributions entry screen. Posting journals and other contribution reports were modified accordingly. Non-Cash allows you to record gifts in kind with a zero amount as per IRS guidelines. Additional reports were added to give the church a record of all non-cash donations by date range.

Also in response to the many requests we received:

Icon Systems is happy to present the 2011 Year End Processing Tutorial Video. We are planning to create more tutorial videos down the road, so any comments or suggestions you have are most welcome! As always, the Year End Processing Guide is also available under your Getting Started menu in IconCMO or you can click here for a copy.


Church Software for Districts and its Churches.

The evaluation of district software for churches should take into account the various tasks performed at each level of the organization (e.g. Church, District, Regional, National, World Offices).

Capabilities of District Software:

  1. The ability to move a church from one regional office to another.
  2. Communication capabilities both within a single entity as well as between each entity throughout the organization.
  3. Communication is based on roles within the organization – e.g. regional secretaries versus church secretaries.
  4. Adding church plants or multisite campuses.

Using one software system throughout the organization helps simplify day-to-day operations

If the software is capable of handling data for individual churches as well as multi-site organizations, users do not have to learn more than one system and data entry is more consistent. The use of a single system throughout the district also allows each church to uniquely structure its own chart of accounts, contribution funds, etc. while allowing the district office to combine the data from each church into one consolidated report.

For example, a district office could collect the membership data from each individual church and consolidate it into one report to analyze the organization as a whole. An individual church would also be able to track several youth or memorial funds that would show as one youth or memorial fund total on the district office reports. The ability to customize separate structures for both levels is crucial.

Why is all this important?

First, the software needs to tackle head-on the various issues each entity is facing at their respective levels. Having one system reduces errors in reporting, ensures a high level of data integrity, increases speed in data gathering, and prevents the users from having to learn and manage five different systems.

We will use an orchestra to illustrate this concept: if each musician was playing a different musical composition would you expect a well-tuned concert? Certainly not – all the musicians have to be on the same page of the same song. The same is true when it comes to the technology used in churches and throughout the entire organization – shouldn’t the same software be used so your ministry can operate in-sync like an orchestra?

Second, providing data to the district office gives an early indication if certain churches will need help financially or within their ministry staff. It can help to determine which entities are flourishing with donations or declining. Is attendance increasing at one location but not the other? All of these and many more questions are answered objectively with the right software in place.

Third, with a one-system approach, confidentiality across the platform is essential so one church cannot view another church’s records. The system must also allow churches to opt out of sending data to the district office. Most district software packages fail in one or more of these areas: membership, financials, data gathering and confidentiality. But you can rest assured because there is an answer for district offices → IconCMO+ software!


Church Office Software – What Makes it Different?

Church office software has various shapes and sizes. It is appropriate to distinguish between “church software” and “church office software”.

Church Software” – is any type of computer software specifically designed for use by a church”. Church software can encompass different types of software such as: bible verse, media production, donation, accounting, mass emailing, sermon, worship, and music software.

Church Office Software is one of the sub types of church software. Typically, the secretaries and financial staff use it in the office. Examples of this type of software are membership, contribution, accounting, newsletter generation, office communication tools, word processing, and spreadsheet software. The software is the heartbeat of the organization. For example, churches can still do their mission if they did not have music or media production software. Conversely, if they do not pay their bills or record donations the church doors will not be open too long.

Church office software is so vital to the mission of the church in keeping it running and the doors open, would it not be beneficial to ensure you choose one that fits your organization and still obeys government guidelines (e.g. IRS, FASB, etc). If the church could choose one thing to be correct within their organization what would it be? Most churches would choose to have the financial books correct. After all, if the church sings the wrong song on a Sunday the IRS won’t be there on a Monday issuing a violation.

Most churches realize the importance of correct financial books; however this area of ministry comes second to all the other activities in the church. When reviewing software, churches focus on the integration of membership or building a community. While these are important, they will not keep the organization out of trouble like having correct financial records. Choosing software that keeps you in check with government agencies first while building a community is the best way to start looking at software packages. It is safe to say that if the software does not have accounting included it is not worth looking at as a complete Church Office Software.

Churches some times fall into the trap of software longevity. Icon Systems can honestly say a company’s longevity in the market is not a good indicator of following the guidelines for financial reporting. If the church is unsure we recommend they do their due diligence and investigate the financial reporting requirements. A good start is to review the blog about “Fund Accounting Methods Compared“. The post discusses scenarios of incorrect guidelines according to FASB that are used in the church software industry.

While all church software is important, if certain software is not used the organization can suffer dire consequences. An organization can lose their tax-exempt status when audited with incorrect financial statements according to the FASB guidelines. Whenever there is uncertainty about proper financial reporting of money within a church, distrust spreads within the organization’s members. An organization using a FASB compliant system like IconCMO cloud base solution can be assured they are within guidelines.


Church Bookkeeping Software vs Church Accounting Software

Church Bookkeeping Software vs. Church Accounting Software

Is there a difference between bookkeeping and accounting? If so, what is it?

Businessdictionary.com Definitions

Bookkeeping:

The systematic recording of financial aspects of business transactions in appropriate books of account.

Accounting:

The practice and body of knowledge concerned primarily with:

1.    Methods for recording transactions
2.    Keeping financial records
3.    Performing internal audits
4.    Reporting and analyzing financial information to the management
5.    Advising on taxation matters

It is a systematic process of identifying, recording, measuring, classifying, verifying, summarizing, interpreting and communicating financial information. It reveals profit or loss for a given period, and the value and nature of a firm’s assets, liabilities and owners’ equity.

Accounting provides information on:

1.    The resources available to a firm
2.    The means employed to finance those resources
3.    The results achieved through their use

Summary

From the lengthy definition, it is obvious that accounting is somewhat more complex than bookkeeping. Basically, bookkeeping is the tedious task of entering the amounts and dates of revenue and expense transactions (i.e. contributions and purchases). Accounting is the bigger picture: an accounting system uses the bookkeeping information to create reports that can be used by decision-makers and for tax purposes.

Most church software applications accurately handle the bookkeeping part: tracking member donations and spending, even the printing or emailing contribution statements to members and generate giving total reports. Unfortunately, many of these applications fall short when it comes to the most important aspects of having accurate accounting records and providing the reports required by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. For more details, please read our post Fund Accounting Methods Compared.

Conclusion

All businesses, for profit or not, need accurate bookkeeping software to avoid negative consequences (e.g. fines, damaged reputation, having to close the business). These repercussions tend to be magnified for nonprofit organizations; they face losing their tax-exempt status, and the loss of credibility can prove to be devastating since the general public tends to hold churches and nonprofits to higher standards.

Icon Systems understands the value of accounting standards, and we make every effort possible to provide you with the tools necessary to ensure your church is in compliance with FASB guidelines. We even hired an outside CPA firm to certify our software, IconCMO, meets these standards!


Using IconCMO+ as Denominational Software

Many denominations require individual churches to report specific information to a regional or national office.

The head offices need the ability to generate member, contribution, and accounting reports for each individual church as well as the entire organization. The headquarters for the denomination are interested in the statistical tracking of the membership and financial health of the organization. Compiling information across the entire denomination can be tricky. For example, each church may have its own set of contribution funds or campaigns. The reporting for the district office itself is also different from that of a regular church; since the main office does not typically hold worship services, it has no need to track attendance.

IconCMO+ includes denomination-specific features for congregational reporting. Denominations can pull data from their churches like membership status and special date totals (e.g. births, baptisms, marriages). Using IconCMO under the IconCMO+ platform, each church can send a more detailed report to the denominational office that lists ethnic origin, member transfers, lost members, and attendance totals.

The IconCMO+ platform was developed by Icon Systems in 2006 to meet the unique needs of regional and national denominational church offices.

Using a cloud-based church management system gives denominational offices the ability to instantly communicate across the organization. All of the information is updated in real time so church leaders always have access to up-to-date figures. This denominational software package includes a fund accounting system to ensure each church complies with guidelines set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

The easy-to-understand reports, graphs, and charts offered by IconCMO+ help denominational offices make informed decisions, ensuring the district is run as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Here are just a few ways you can put this denominational software solution to use:

  • Track and forecast revenues and expenses
  • View a snapshot of the organization’s overall financial health
  • Create a visual representation of weekly giving averages
  • Monitor attendance for individual churches as well as the entire district
  • Assess statistical information for both active members and visitors
  • Find out the number of new marriages, baptisms, confirmations, etc.
  • How well are certain mission campaigns doing

IconCMO+ also accommodates the specific needs of multi-site organizations, church plants, sister churches, and even mergers.


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!


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