Planning Center Online (PCO) is a great software for churches. It’s versatile, it contains many different features churches need, and you only pay for the products you use. You can schedule volunteers, create worship plans, manage rooms and resources, and more. However, one primary piece that is missing from Planning Center is church accounting. So what kind of accounting solution should you have if your church uses Planning Center? We’ll show you exactly what you need and share some best practices for using accounting software alongside PCO.
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Here are some things to keep in mind when using Planning Center for your church:
- PCO offers giving tracking by fund, but it does not contain a church bookkeeping system
- Giving in PCO points to a single bank account, so is not recommended for churches that use separate bank accounts to track funds
- PCO offers options to export your giving reporting so you can create journal entries in your accounting system
Using a Bookkeeping System Alongside Planning Center Online
If you use the Giving feature in Planning Center for accepting and processing contributions, you will need a bookkeeping system because PCO does not include a general ledger. That means, in addition to financial reporting, it also doesn’t offer budgeting, check printing, accounts payable, or bank reconciliation. Whether you choose to use software or spreadsheets, your church will need something else for your bookkeeping.
What PCO does offer is donation reporting from Giving that you can track by fund or label, which allows you to create a matching deposit entry that will be reflected in your accounting. You can also export non-deductible payments for event registration from Registrations in PCO. Then you can import donations and registration payments into a compatible accounting system.
Tracking Planning Center Giving in Church Accounting Software
There are several different methods to easily keep Planning Center Giving in sync with your accounting system.
Option 1: Use the Stripe Payout Report in Giving to Break Out Giving by Fund
When using this method, your individual donor records would be kept in Planning Center, and the deposit entries in your accounting system would match the summary amounts.
With the Stripe Payout report in Giving, you can create a journal entry in your accounting system where you enter the complete value of your donations, broken out by fund. You can also note your processing fees so your final deposit matches the Stripe payout that was completed. When doing this in Aplos, you can simply enter these values from the Donation Deposit screen, and Aplos will automatically post the accounting entry for you.
When you make these entries in a true fund accounting system rather than one that is designed for businesses, the process of noting your donations by fund is easy. Aplos follows the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) guidelines for GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles), and it contains the accounting structure your church needs to keep these funds separated so your financial reports reflect the true fund balances.
Option 2: Import Individual Donation Entries
Although PCO does not integrate with Aplos, QuickBooks®, etc., you can export a CSV file of your contributions from the Donations List in Planning Center. This will export the Amount, Fund or Label, Fees, and Donor Names so you can import these using the Donations screen in Aplos. Once imported, the records would be batched as a deposit to be recorded as an accounting entry.
This would be advantageous for churches that wish to consolidate all giving and payment records for each donor in one place in Aplos. This method can take more time and will not automatically update if a donation is refunded, so it may be harder to keep it in sync with your Stripe deposit records from PCO.
Option 3: Manage Your Giving From Your Church Accounting System
Many churches opt not to use the giving tools in Planning Center because they prefer that all their payments and donations be managed by their bookkeeper in their accounting system. You can still utilize PCO for worship planning, check-in, and scheduling volunteers, but you would also rely on the giving tools included within Aplos to manage your payments, recurring giving, and Text to Give so all your giving and financial records are in one place. With this method, you may wish to periodically import contact information, but all donation activity and accounting batch deposits would be tracked automatically in Aplos.
Choosing a Church Accounting Software That Works With Planning Center
Aplos and Planning Center can work really well with each other to fill out your church’s software needs. With Aplos, you can:
- Easily generate all the necessary financial reports your church needs, including your Income Statement and Balance Sheet
- Create a budget and run a simple report to know how your budget lines up with your actual expenses for your various ministries, building fund, and missions fund
- Cut checks and print mailing labels
- Manage payments all in one place with built-in online giving tools and Text to Give
- Account for tax-deductible contributions as well as non-deductible transactions
- Use payroll partner, Gusto, for an easy payroll and HR solution
If your church uses Planning Center Online and needs an accounting solution, Aplos may be an excellent fit. Try it for free for 15 days. No credit card needed.