I’ve been using this space to update the church on what I’ve been up to as I’ve settled into my role at Spirit of Hope. Back in June of 2016, Ad Council voted to start to replace SHELBY– the old, expensive, outdated, and convoluted church management software, and the migration process would be accomplished with 2 different softwares– Quickbooks and Breeze. The member database has mostly been transferred to Breeze, though Janine has been working since summer to clean up Breeze and to manually enter information that we couldn’t migrate over automatically due to SHELBY being such an outdated computer program. Today, I want to update you on the migration for our financial system to QuckBooks Desktop Premiere Nonprofit Edition 2017.
Two careers ago, I worked for financial advisors, and eventually passed the Series 7 exam (first try, 2 hours, 84%). In my previous career, I had to do all the bookkeeping, financial reporting, budgeting, and grant writing all while keeping in mind IRS requirements for non-profit organizations. In addition to understanding that being a church means that our financial data is considered public information and there are laws and rules in place related to how we do our bookkeeping at Spirit of Hope, my professional standards hold that I strive for clarity, ease of understanding by the general public, and most importantly, transparency. You should not need footnotes to read a financial statement, and all of the numbers on the financial statement should be able to be provable, meaning I can independently verify the numbers in our accounting system.
Due to technological changes (Quickbooks does not work the way SHELBY did– thank goodness!) and changes in reporting rules that you can start to read about here, there are some things about how the accounting and bookkeeping has been done in the past that are no longer possible. I can’t stress to church membership enough how much work was needed to figure out how to set up an accounting system that managed to:
- Provide for internal controls
- Allow for accurate and precise accounts to track income and expenses
- Integrate the 2017 budget as approved by Ad Council
- Allow for each and every budget area to be isolated in detail to get an immediate understanding of our fiscal picture
- Be set up in a way that optimized the quality of usability of reports run in Quickbooks
- Be simple for anyone and everyone to understand, either as a user or as someone looking at a report run in Quickbooks
All of those are important goals, especially while using the system in real time to pay bills. We have a CPA who has advised me on this process since last month, and he has been invaluable in helping me put the critical details in place that will work best at Spirit of Hope. With his assistance, I am now at the part of the process where I’m tidying up the various pieces to make the accounting system the best it can be. Hopefully my schedule next week will cooperate and that will be completed within the next 7 days. I proud of the progress that’s been made so far, and I know that once we get past this final hurdle of the migration and once I finish all of the process documentation related to it, it’ll be a system that will be invaluable to assuring Spirit of Hope has a healthy future. Once it’s complete, reports will be easy to run, information will be accessible, and you won;t need to be a “number person” to understand financial reports.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.