Mark Kitts served as a founding pastor before establishing People Driven Software, which merged with Elexio Church Software. Today, Kitts is Elexio’s Lead Software Architect.
How does church management software help churches with financial management and what are the most important functions?
Kitts: At our company, we’ve chosen not to concentrate on all areas of accounting and financial management. We integrate with Quickbooks because they’ve mastered accounting software. Budgeting, general ledger, accounts payable — those things aren’t unique to the church.
But managing accounts receivable is unique within the church, so that’s where we focus our financial management efforts. Like many CMS providers, we make it easy to collect and manage money coming in from donors through traditional giving methods — as well as online — through a mobile app, on a kiosk, or via text and then understand what all this means to the church.
There’s no purpose in putting that information into the system if you’re not planning on getting it out in some more organized or summarized fashion. That’s why flexible reporting tools that make it easy to analyze giving trends are so important.
A CMS should also integrate with the various giving methods a church uses so contribution information is automatically recorded and staff members don’t need to manually enter it.
We approach financial management with a pastoral perspective rather than a business person’s perspective only. You certainly need those accounting tools to run a good church, but we see giving as a point of engagement and involvement in the church. Show me all the people who’ve given in the last year — by age group or geographical area. With a CMS that understands the pastor’s point of view, you can see where giving is really coming from. Churches can delve even further into the data to see what methods work for different demographics.
Who in the church can benefit from these financial management tools?
Kitts: Integrated financial management tools will benefit everyone in the church community.
Donors will benefit because it’s not only easy to give, but they can also access their giving history at any time online or through their mobile app.
Church staff will save time entering giving data, compiling reports, and preparing annual contribution statements.
Pastors can easily use the information to identify giving trends and evaluate the health of the church.
What is one of the most underused CMS tools / features for financial management?
Kitts: Even with a variety of giving options, many churches still receive a large number of paper checks each week but don’t take advantage of check scanning. But they should, for a few reasons:
• It could cut data entry time by 40 percent to 50 percent
• It allows donors to pull images of their checks online
• It deposits electronically so staff members don’t need to take checks to the bank
• It’s more secure than multiple people handling paper checks.
Why is good financial management support through a CMS important to the church?
Kitts: Good financial management involves the church’s integrity and stewardship. Churches are accountable—to God and government — for every dollar they receive. They already face skepticism that they only care about money, so ensuring that donations are spent wisely and accounted for is critical.
Pastors are often concerned about the income of the church because they need to make payroll, but giving is also a spiritual indicator for the church. If contributions are down, pastors should be able to run a report to help them determine why. Is attendance dropping? Is it too difficult for people to give? Is there a deeper issue that needs to be addressed? Healthy things grow — and giving within the church is no exception.
Mark Kitts is Lead Software Architect at Elexio Church Software and lives in North Carolina.