When it comes to church giving, it is extremely important to accurately track tithes and offerings, not only for legal and moral reasons, but also to keep your members happy. The church isn’t a building. People are the church. Managing and stewarding them, and tracking their gifts within the fund accounting framework requires time and organization. But one of the most unique things about managing church finances can also be one of the biggest headaches if you aren’t prepared with a good system.
How do you track contributions separately from other income?
Many churches think all income received is tax-deductible. However, some forms of income shouldn’t show up on a contribution statement. If a person receives goods or services in exchange for the income, such as a stay at a retreat or a meal at an event, those transactions or portions of a transaction should not appear on contribution statements as tax-deductible.
If your church’s accounting software does not enable you to produce reports for tax-deductible and non-deductible giving by person, it may be necessary to keep a separate log of your contributions in Excel that notes the person’s name, date, amount, and purpose of their gift. Those who use Aplos only have to track a contribution once for giving statements and accounting. Plus, if you receive online giving through the system, Aplos tracks those gifts automatically!
What are you required to provide to those who give?
People who gave gifts of $250 or more must receive a written statement from the church. Typically, the church sends this annually by January 31 so people have time to file their tax returns. But there is value in sending a statement to even your smallest giver to let them know their gift is appreciated.
The contribution statement must include the organization’s name, the contributor’s name, the date(s) of the contribution(s), and the amount(s). It must also include an explanation about whether the church provided any goods or services in exchange for the contribution. For example, include a statement such as the following: “You did not receive any goods or services in connection with these contributions other than intangible religious benefits.”
While annual statements are required, many churches find that sending monthly or quarterly statements can boost giving, particularly when they are partnered with dynamic content that really showcases the value of your mission.
Have more questions about tracking contributions? Check out this article of other frequently asked donation receipt questions.
Also a good idea? Saying thank you.
It may seem obvious, but it is important to thank those who help support your church’s kingdom work. Tell the story of the impact you are making together, and share your vision for upcoming opportunities. This helps build trust that you are stewarding your resources well.
Do you have what you need to accept giving online? Explore some tools in Aplos Software that can help your church manage your tithes, offerings, and donations online!