Now that we’ve looked at how you can assist the leadership team develop and implement new P&P it’s time to consider your own plans as the Treasurer.
In this last part of the series on the role of treasurer we will consider the more personal aspects of being treasurer.
So let’s start with some basic questions:
How long have you been treasurer?
What is your exit strategy, what is the succession plan? and,
How will the transition the role for the next person?
Why is it important, to consider the length of term for the treasurer?
Firstly it is Biblical to have succession plans and provide for transition:
Consider these examples in the Bible
- Moses to Joshua
- Elijah to Elisha
- Paul to Priscilla with Aquila, and to Timothy and to Titus
- Jesus to His disciples
It enables the leadership to plan for the transition and changeover at a certain time. Many times we have had a call at Benkorp from a church leader after their church treasurer suddenly could not continue in their role – such as death, suddenly moved house, incapacity and could not do the work, so many reasons. The result is always the same – they desperately needed the role to be continued and the work kept up-to-date.
Sadly, there is little, if any, consideration given to the role and responsibilities of the treasurer as he or she tries to guide the financial management of the church and the leadership. It’s time for churches to take seriously the role of the treasurer and enable the role to be fulfilled well – ongoing and not just for now .
What is the role of the treasurer?
If you are a treasurer you can go through this checklist and maybe add some details. You may also like to share this around so that others can see and understand and help you in your role and then prepare for a transition
Most importantly the treasurer role in a church differs from a for-profit-organisation (such as a company) and some non-profit organisations. Different salary arrangements and taxes, other compliance requirements, audit and financial reporting.
Here are some aspects of the role:
- Set internal controls and policies,
- Communicate this with the leadership team/council
- Transaction controls, conflicts of interest including a register
- Protection against fraud and mistakes
- Understand financial statements, and communicate the understanding of financial statements to the leadership and others involved with the church’s finances
- Compliance – ensuring all requirements are fulfilled and timely
- Ensure transparency – within the leadership team, the wider church and the community at large
- Record keeping, digital security, privacy – these generally come within the ambit of the church treasurer
- Audit or Assurance Review arrangements and oversight
Welcome to the new treasurer!
“We are sooo pleased to have you join the leadership team and take on this role of treasurer.”
How would you like to hear this welcome given to someone else?
If you are an incumbent treasurer you would probably be very happy to hear this. Maybe you’ve been the treasurer in your church for a long time – “too long” you say.
I have spoken with many many treasurers during our 25 years of providing churches with accounting and financial management services. This has highlighted that there are some common themes
- “I agreed to do it once, and now I’ve been treasurer for 10, 20+ years”
- “They never seem to find someone else willing to do it”
- “People say it’s too difficult and so they won’t volunteer”
- “I wish I could do another ministry around the church but I’m too busy with this treasurer’s role and I’ve been doing it for awhile”
- “I’ve been doing it for awhile and people say I do such a good job”
Tips for a treasurer
1. Have a set term or set a term and work through a plan of action for that term
Example of a 3 year term:
- yr1 review procedures and make urgent changes, ensure all compliance is correct and timely
- yr2 review the whole treasury function and accounting, incl see that the reporting is accurate, meaningful and timely
- yr3 settle and prepare for transition
2. Coordinate with the leadership team and especially the chairperson about expectations – reporting content, timing, budgeting
- identify high risk/need areas such as property, income/funding, special projects mooted, WIP or delayed activities (postponed from a previous period)
3. Coordinate with other leaders such as departments all relevant aspects, including their perspectives and needs
4. Work on the financial reporting, that the reports are meaningful for the readers and users, liaise with them
5. Identify your resources for support – technical such as accounting and systems and funds management, people who can assist with aspects of the role such as bookkeeping and other admin tasks
6. Making it easy:
- simplify procedures for approvals, payment of accounts, accounting for income, invoicing clients for hires, rentals, events
- use an accounting system the easy to use, is well supported, and allows your users to work from home as required. This includes other leaders who may need to look at reports at any time. See: Why Xero is sooo good for churches
- know who you and your team can call for help for yourself or your users. See Support at Benkorp
7. Have a mindset of “Principles – not rules”, “flexible – not inflexible”. People often think of treasurers as quite ‘heavy’ people and so it is our challenge to be open, listening and looking forward and the big picture, the vision of the church.
If these ideas have sparked some questions for you?
If these notes and lists have challenged you about your role as treasurer?
Maybe this background article about the role of the treasurer has caused you to think about the treasurer in your church?