For churches, the calendar year closes with exciting and reflective celebrations of Advent and Christmas. Church staff focuses on providing reflective, engaging opportunities to connect with one of the most meaningful seasons in the liturgical calendar. In the wake of the tinsel and pageants, advent calendars and carols is another milestone in the annual calendar: donor giving statements. Rather than inciting enthusiasm and joy, most church administrators and accounting volunteers cringe at the thought. These staff members could share stories of fighting with printers, chasing down missing data, and mail merging statements through all hours of the night.
At System Six, we understand how complicated it can be to provide accurate, accessible donor information to your congregants. Every year you may find yourself thinking, “There has got to be a better way…” – there is! We have put together this comprehensive guide to help you streamline your giving throughout the year so that statements can be processed, sent, and reconciled in moments – rather than weeks.
Four components affect church donor giving statements:
1. How you collect donations
2. How you track your spending
3. How you store donor giving data
4. How you send donor statements
A crucial recommendation: the least number of tools needed to complete these steps, the better! Throughout this guide, we will highlight several of our favorite tools. Be sure to evaluate the tools you currently use to see if they can meet any of these needs throughout the year.
We’ve all had to pivot this year in order to keep ourselves and our communities safe. While some companies, like System Six, have been working remotely for years, we recognize that the shift to completely digital platforms and processes can be overwhelming and daunting. The good news is that there are so many great options for online tools that will have your team working cohesively in no time. We know that nothing can quite replace the collaborative vibes of your office or the chit chat around the water cooler, but hopefully these tools will help you get on the same page while you can’t be in the same space.
We use Teams (and have used Slack in the past) primarily as a means to field casual conversation and quick questions. In order for this to work to its full potential, though, you have to have strong buy-in from your team and commit to quick response times together so that it remains an effective means of communication. Teams can be used for questions and updates that can be handled quickly and easily; it’s not for asking particularly heavy questions that require your colleague to completely stop what they are doing to help. Make sure to ask specific questions and avoid ambiguity.
Karbon is our preferred tool for task management. It is a tool that is specifically built for accounting firms but we’d highly recommend a tool like this (see Teamwork, Clickup, or Asana) for keeping track of tasks. Email is not an ideal place to assign tasks because once the email has been sent there is no visibility of if/when the task got done and no way to see if the task is still in process.
With Karbon, you can automate reminders, setup workflows, and ensure that there is visibility on the scope of a project for each team member.
With a remote team or clients who span multiple time zones, it can be such a simplifier to use a scheduling service. Save yourself the endless “reply-alls” and mishaps over who is on what time zone and invest in a service like Calendly for booking appointments. Calendly updates your availability in real time so you can rest assured that you will never double book a meeting. It comes with features like custom reminder emails, cancellation notices, and calendar syncing. The free version works fine for most people though it is branded with “calendly” and you only have one meeting type as an option.
Google Drive | Easy & sharable access to information
We can’t stress enough the importance of real time editing and updating of shared documents. Avoid sending various versions back and forth with Google Docs robust variety of cloud-hosted documents and spreadsheets. We especially love the Google Sheets features for collaboration around ideas, updating contacts, and sharing live content. We’ve been able to connect Google Sheet directly with Quickbooks Online to automatically pull key financial metrics directly into various meeting agendas which has been extremely valuable when reviewing our company performance as leaders on a weekly basis. You can review our meeting agenda template here!
Fathom is a reporting app that is especially focused on turning complex financial reports into beautiful, easy to read trends, Fathom connects easily to QBO, and it presents financial information in an easy, understandable way. Fathom puts accounting info into a visual, easier to understand form that is especially helpful for anyone who may not be especially numbers-minded. Really, it is a communication tool as much as a financial tool.You want your numbers to communicate the story of what is happening in your business and be able to present this data to your key stakeholders (team members, investors, or your spouse).
Loom is a great tool to create a tutorial by sharing your screen and recording the session to send via URL. If you need to shoot off a quick explanation about how to use a feature, or want to show a client an element of a program or website, you can record a short video for them. This allows the information to be reviewed at someone’s convenience.. And if your client or colleague has to pause to go homeschool their third grader, then they can always come back to it later!
While the focus of this post is the tools we use while working remotely, the theme is communication. This is particularly essential when you aren’t just down the hall from someone, but you still need to be able to communicate quickly and clearly. We want to make sure that the tools we do use are easy to use, intuitive, secure, and allow for quick and helpful communication.