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Bookkeepers have for a long time been confused with accountants. They, however, carry very different responsibilities. Bookkeepers maintain the financial records of an organization that includes income and expense records. They are supposed to keep records of the dates and amount of every transaction of the organization. It is also their task to keep track of all accounts and are the ones who verify the accuracy of the procedures used in the accounting processes. Accountants, on the other hand, perform all the tasks of bookkeepers and also provide auditing, tax planning, financial planning and consulting services.
In the case of a church, a bookkeeper could be required to also wear the shoes of an accountant and treasurer. They are therefore in charge of all financial aspects of the church. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to;
- Recording tithes, offerings and any other income the church has, and then depositing the amount into the church account.
- Reconciling petty cash receipts and also balancing checking and investment accounts. They then submit these reports to the church board.
- Preparing weekly, bi
- weekly, monthly, and yearly reports of the church's financial records and submitting these to the church board.
- Creating a yearly budget draft that they then present to the church board for review.
- Processing payroll for the church staff.
These responsibilities, however, vary from church to church depending on their job description or as guided by their bylaws.
While it is not mandatory that a church hires a bookkeeper to take care of its financial records, there are several ways a church can benefit by hiring one.
- Accounting is a job for professionals: Accounting includes finances, which is a sensitive matter to any group. It is, therefore, essential to have a qualified professional do the job. A professional will ensure that they manage all records professionally. Additionally, hiring a bookkeeper will ensure the work is done more effectively as compared to delegating the responsibility to a volunteer. This is because that is what the bookkeeper is employed to do and can lose their job if they do not perform.
- The process will be more transparent, and people will trust the process: Hiring a bookkeeper will have a positive effect on the whole accounting process. Having a professional manage the financial aspect will increase transparency in the office concerning the church's income and also how and why money is spent. Such levels of transparency will mean that the congregation will have trust in the leadership of the church because they are informed accurately how their offertory and tithes are spent.
- A bookkeeper can double as an accountant: Since church finances may not entail a lot of work, a church bookkeeper can also double as an accountant. This will save the church the added expense of hiring an accountant. However, depending on the job description and the size of the church ministry, there may still be a need for an accountant.
- Easy to curb errors and mistakes: Employing a bookkeeper is good for any church because all financial records are held and managed centrally by one person. The bookkeeper is, therefore, responsible and accountable for all financial aspects and tracking and managing financial errors, and mistakes become easier. Additionally, embezzling of church funds becomes impossible because the bookkeeper will have superiors to report to and so will take exceptional care to ensure everything is in place.
- Creation of reports and budgets becomes easy: Creating reports, financial budgets, and projections becomes much easier because all information is managed by a professional. The turnaround times for any requested reports is therefore much less than it would have been if a professional bookkeeper was not doing the job.
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