A while back, one of our customers presented us with a scenario involving a large credit card refund that we thought had the makings for some good discussion here on the blog. [Read more…]
Do you see more producers or consumers in the church or the community?
For example, do you see others:
- consume more raw materials in a week than what they produce, or vice versa, or
- produce something for the greater good of humanity verses consume things that bring humanity down, or
- in the church consume the church’s resources instead of helping produce resources for the church.
Let’s focus on the last example.
Consumer vs. Producer – probably the best way to distinguish the difference is to use an example of Joe. Joe comes to church on Sunday and goes to two Bible classes, takes in the worship and sermon, then leaves for the day. He doesn’t come back to church any other days to help out around the church and doesn’t donate his time to the church’s mission. In this sense he is consuming the classes but not giving much back. Now let’s take a look at Joe in a different scenario. He still takes in the classes, worship, and sermon; but he cleans the church’s bathrooms weekly, mentors men every Friday, donates time to the Christmas fundraising event, and provides free plumbing services to the church.
Before we tell Joe, in the first scenario to pull his weight, we should be aware of a few things. 🙂 I don’t believe that there’s anyone that’s truly just a consumer or a producer. Everyone at some time is either a consumer or a producer and it changes throughout the day – sometime minute by minute. The question one should ask is, ‘do you give back in some way greater than what you have taken’? Another caveat, is when someone is a new visitor to your church, most of the time they are learning about the organization any way they can or many times they are in real trouble looking for answers. In these instances, and possibly others, they will probably be a consumer for majority of their time spent at church. This consumption behavior may go on for awhile when a person is new to the church. The church should gradually mentor them into being a producer, in some capacity, that’s greater than what they consume – in all walks of their life. They should be a producer in their home life, mentoring their children, at work, taking interest in others, etc. How much better will the world be, if we had a little less consuming and little more producing for society’s enrichment?
Becoming a Producer.
What are some things people can help the church with to become more of a producer? There’s teaching adult or children, mentoring others, helping in the nursery, helping around the church grounds or cleaning, donations, etc. A few other examples that may not come to mind are welcoming new people and showing them around, evangelism, community service in the name of the church, and encouraging pastors – especially after a hard delivered sermon. Feel free to add any that you thought of in the blog’s comment section.
Here’s a blast from the past: Can you remember when produce was so inexpensive like the one in the picture? Be careful, you may date yourself. 🙂
If you haven’t read the first part in this two part series please read it here first.
Do a little fact finding – A scenario may be a person asking the church to help them pay a bill like utilities, phone, or gas. It’s appropriate to call a company’s billing department and let them know who you are and your helping this person pay their bill. Majority of the time companies are more than happy to give the bill’s balance because they just want to get paid and they don’t care by who.
Once you know the bill’s balance, who should you give the money too? When possible, it is best for the church to pay the bill for the person instead of giving the benevolence seeker the cash. Is this an inconvenience for the church? Yes, however the church knows that it will go to where it is intended. This methods assures there’s is no mishandling of the money from the benevolence seeker is. This accountability is especially important when it is a large sum of money.
Developing ties with community businesses may be important to develop like gas stations and grocery stores. Why? If someone is passing through you can call ahead and advise the store to put the person’s purchase on the church’s tab (up to a certain limit). This process would keep you from making the trip to the store. Then you can pay the store over the phone or have a monthly bill sent to you. Some businesses will hold your debit card on file for purchases in the future. Keep in mind that cards expire and you may have to update it every so often with the business.
Documentation is a must when administering these funds for a Benevolence Ministry. You want to be held above reproach when it comes to documentation and those who are helped with the monies. This protects you from any type of questioning from others and builds a trust relationship.
Auditing is another strongly recommended suggestion. You should have a non-family person that reviews the records on an annual basis. The person should be someone that understand accounting, contributions, and various GAAP procedures and understands which compliant software to use for non-profits. Some example are a banker, CPA, investment firm, etc.
A Benevolence Ministry Committee or a group of confidants to bounce ideas off of is an added bonus. Sometimes the person in charge may need to ask the question – should we help this person? It’s always wise to seek council when needed. By having more eyes and ears on the case, it helps the person administering the money and keeps everything legit. Additionally, everyone has different backgrounds and they can chime in on the level of generosity.
image credit bobrusk
What does church membership management and the Benevolence Ministry have in common? Let’s start with how the Benevolence Ministry gets it’s funding. Majority of the time this comes from the church’s members. It would be hard to fund this ministry without donors and the ability to track them in a church membership management system.
With a church membership management system, the church can track various pieces of information. Many times donors want to know how the donation is used when they are giving money to an organization. The church may want to report back to donors how the ministry is doing and how much it is helping others. Many church membership management systems also provide a tax receipt for their offering.
What about the people the church helps? Should they be in the church membership management system, although they may not be members? Answer – YES. Why? The church may invite them to social events that could help them not only spiritually but possibly get them back on their feet. The organization may want to give updates on the ministries. Churches often notify people about events of interest, like an upcoming job fair. It may be wise to know who you are helping and how often they are asking for help. This can help the ministry avoid people taking advantage of the Benevolence Ministry.
For donors, the organization can update them on how the ministry has helped others each month. Without a record of who’s helped, it’s hard to provide non-confidential information to the donors. In most organizations, statistics like number of people helped or how many shoes given away to needy children are acceptable to share. Many donors are encouraged when they hear about the number of people the ministry helped. Encouragement increases donations because the donors see progress towards a shared goal with the ministry. The organization’s internal reporting should show if the ministry is growing or shrinking in revenue and are controlling their expenses.
Helpful hints are coming in part two. Watch for it!
image credit bobrusk
A new group list export has been released in response to customer requests for an output format that can be used in mail-merge fashion to produce a pre-filled Sunday School registration form for each child. This export includes information for secondary households. It also assumes that a member group exists for the Sunday School class. Output can be either to a spreadsheet or tab-delimited format. You will find this new export under PEOPLE : Groups : Grp-Export –> Group List with Secondary Households.
The field layout for this export is as follows:
The key for the exported fields is as follows:
GRAY: These fields are in reference to the category and group specified in the export setup parameters.
BROWN: These fields are in reference to a group member’s member record.
PINK: These fields reference the PRIMARY household information of the group member.
GREEN: These fields reference the SECONDARY household information of the group member.
PURPLE: These fields reference phone numbers and email addresses from the PRIMARY household’s “head of household” member record.
PEACH: These fields reference phone numbers and email addresses from the SECONDARY household’s “head of household” member record.
Once you have exported the desired data, you can use your favorite word processor to create a mail-merge document, formatted as a registration form, in order to present a pre-filled form to the child’s parents.
The parents can check the information on the form and verify that it is correct, or they can write in any changes to be made. This method can save a considerable amount of time, both for parents and data entry personnel.
I’m reminded of a blog entry by Seth Godin where he talks about two different organizational models. He discusses for-profit industries, but the organizational concepts are the same for any organization. One model is the easy and straight forward where you get paid for your creation or service. The other model, which Seth goes into more detail, discusses organizations that attempt insanely difficult missions. When these organizations succeed, they’re the organizations people look to as the true leaders in their respective areas; like Dave Ramsey, Rick Toone, Henry Ford, and Rollin Thurlow. He ends his blog entry with this question:
‘How do we do something so difficult that others can’t imagine doing it’?
All organizations and their processes can take two paths – the easy or hard path. Let’s elaborate on these two paths:
Easy Path – the easy path is the one that is often mimicked, mass produced, or copied by others very quickly and little changes. The organization implements a process from another organization – like visitor assimilation. This path is incredibly competitive as other organizations are doing the same thing and nothing is unique. When organizations try to copy a way of doing things, then the pool of potential people gets smaller. Why? Because each organization is going after the same pool of people, using the same method. Additionally, no single process can capture every person where complex human relationships are concerned. Why is this important? Because most churches fall into a trap of mimicking what another church is doing, in faith, that people will just start coming to them in troves. Rarely does this happen – if ever.
Hard Path – the hard path is where organizations focus on the organization’s uniqueness and how it can best form new relationships with people – either new visitors or long time attendees. It uses its strengths to its advantage to build stronger relations with the people already in small groups or participating in other areas of the church family. Building relationships with people that are coming to church is definitely a longer, slower and more involved path when human relationships are involved. While this method may take more time, it pays off in huge dividends when educating people within your organization. Why? When relationships are formed and kept, then information about your organization spreads via word of mouth. When more people spread the word, about the unique strengths of the organization, the pool of people becomes larger. People, from all walks of life, learn about your organization and want to be part of it’s mission, whatever that may be – discipling new people, missionaries, local community volunteerism, and much more.
Is your church going down the hard path by doing something so incredibly difficult, like building long lasting relationships, that others wouldn’t even dream of trying? Or are they trying to use some replicated process in hopes that they grow larger – the easy path?
When it comes to building relationships, every church should develop their own processes, as no one knows better how to reach people in your neighborhood better than you. Software should facilitate different follow up processes for visitation, small groups, staying connected, human relationships, and assimilation. Church management software, like IconCMO, gives you more than one way to have people flow through your organization instead of one process to use like the church down the road.
Icon Systems is happy to announce to our clients that payroll direct deposit and tax tables are now available in IconCMO church management software. These features have been two of the more popular features asked for in payroll. We highly recommend reading this entire blog post if you do anything with payroll on IconCMO or forward it to the person that handles the payroll. 🙂 If you never tried IconCMO you can review a free trial here.
Let’s talk about the tax tables. The current system allows the user a lot of flexibility by using a formula to apply to each for a person’s income for any tax or other withholdings. We did keep this as an option in the screen for users that are more familiar with tax tables and want to customize their tax withholdings. We added the second method which list the various taxing authorities and called this “Calculate with tax tables”. Please see the Fig. 1 below. This new enhancement allows users to use tax tables that are updated automatically.
As Fig. 1 shows, it has three main steps (gray colored numbers) for each employee. Step 1 the user chooses the appropriate tax liability account from the chart of accounts for the employee. If you do not see the appropriate one, then the chart of accounts needs to be updated. Next, the user chooses either the formula or calculate tax method (see #2) and adds any additional information needed that appears between step 2 and 3 (see additional information section below – Fig. 2). Then the user adds it to the withholding list for that employee by click the “add to withholding button” (see #3).
Additionally, the church can set up common accounts like Social Security and Medicare and copy those to each employee by using the “copy common accounts to the employee” button on the bottom left corner. These common accounts are set up in the same screen as before by clicking on the maintain common accounts button from the employee screen. However, the screen looks very similar to Fig. 1 above as it can use the formula or calculate method. It has an additional button that allows you to update all employees after a change, just like before. Note: This should only be used for common accounts across all employees.
Additional Information Section (Fig. 2) – Below is a screenshot showing that some taxes, when using the calculate method, will ask for more information from the user on various selections. Some examples are for Federal Income Taxes for resident or nonresident employees, state exemptions or allowances, among others. In IconCMO it will appear between step 2 and 3 if anything else is needed by IconCMO to calculate the tax. Please make your selection before clicking the “Add to Withholding” button in step 3 on the screen which adds the withholding to the employee.
Now let’s focus on direct deposit and how that is setup on the IconCMO management solution. Below you will see a screenshot where the employees are listed. The change on this screen is illustrated by the arrow. The user can set up people to use either a checking or saving account, then put in the bank’s routing number and employee’s bank account number.
Direct deposit is processed by Vanco. The church can contact Vanco and let them know you are an IconCMO client. Vanco will setup everything that is needed on IconCMO and their system to start the direct payroll process. Please keep in mind there are cut off times for payroll that Vanco will go over with you and cost associated with direct deposit through Vanco. To properly do payroll these dates and times need to be followed. Additionally, if you are adding in any one new as an employee, please allow yourself extra time to do this as the previous screen shots show that these areas of the system changed.
Batch Screen Changes:
We recommend all churches to view the batch entry screen before their next payroll for familiarity as it has changed dramatically. Below is the batch entry screen. You will see the employee drop down list in the upper left hand corner which you can make the employee selection. The rate card drop down list will populate with the available rate cards for that employee. If it is an hourly rate card you will need to input the hours or salary employees will just show the amount they are being paid in bold. If all the deductions look correct to the right then click the “Add to Batch” button, then move on to your next rate card for the employee, if there is one, or the next employee. After adding everyone to a batch, you would simply click the “Close Batch” button. The rest of payroll processing is similar to what you have done in the past where you print the edit report, then approve the edit report.
We hope you all enjoy these awesome new features that help the church process payroll and adding new employees quicker and faster. And with direct deposit the employees don’t have to worry about cashing their checks. 🙂
In recent weeks we have deployed a total remake of the Parishioner’s module for churches. This new enhancement will give users a more mobile-friendly application that runs better on mobile devices like Android phones and the iPhone. The original parishioners module, created over a decade ago — long before even the first iPhone, had screen sizing limitations. The new enhancement constitutes months of development so our client’s needs are met with the ever-changing technology. Time flies, especially in the computer world. 🙂 You can try a free trial to see the new interface.
Let’s take a look at what the parishioner module used to look like in this screen shot.
Now let’s look at several screen shots of the new interface. For less confusion, we have split this into two sections. Part I is the desktop section and its screen shots; and part II is the actual mobile phone screen shots. We will start with the desktop section of the interface, then move to the mobile section in part II.
Part I (Desktop Section). When you first log in you will see the following screen. Let’s take a walk through the options.
The yellow outline box and bubble shows the menus that can be selected and is currently set to the “Home” menu. The other selections are contributions (Fig. 2), church directory (Fig. 3), and settings.
On the “Home” menu, as seen above in Fig. 1, the family can view the household information and individual information. If the family clicks on the “Individual Information” link, noted by the green bubble, they can view and edit individual church member information. The church must give them read write access for the family. Read access will only allow them to view the family’s data.
When the word edit appears, as noted by the purple bubble, the family can click on it and edit certain fields of their record. They however can’t edit their contributions or other people’s information in the church directory. This edit option happens at the household and individual records and is updated immediately on the system for the church and its staff. Keep in mind there are two reports to show the last time a family logged in and what changes were made, which are found under People-> Households-> Household Reports. Look for the reports that have ‘Parishioner’ in the report name.
The setting menu allows them to change their family password and has three fields for the current password, new password, and confirmation of the new password. The church should create a policy for their passwords so families do not choose easy to guess passwords.
Fig. 2 above is what the screen looks like for the contribution menu selection. The yellow box highlights the ability to do a sort on any of the column headings.
Fig. 3 above shows an example of the included church directory that church members can have at their fingertips when using IconCMO. When a mobile device is used the church directory goes from a two column to a one column directory, making navigation easier for mobile users. This will be seen in the up coming screen shots.
Part II (Mobile Section). Let’s turn our focus to what the mobile parishioner’s solution will look like when viewing from a much smaller screen – like an Android phone. Below you will see two screen shots showing this — Fig. 4 and 5. These were taken from an actual phone and depict the same information as above, but on a smaller screen that typically has less room for navigation and displayable data.
Above in Fig. 4 you see the screen shot of the actual navigation menu (illustrated by the black bubble) on a mobile device by using the square with lines in the upper right hand corner. Otherwise the navigation menu disappears so the user can see the data for their family, like the following screen shot — Fig. 5.
As you can see in Fig.5 by the black bubble, the menus (Family Information and Individual Information) have moved under each other instead of side by side as was in the Fig. 1 illustration on a desktop screen.
We are taking suggestions for this new streamlined interface from users. Please submit them either at email@example.com or through the support forum found on the IconCMO system.
Note: The classical view is still available by clicking the link at the bottom that say “Switch to Classical Interface”.
If there’s one thing churches want to eliminate when it comes to receiving contributions, it’s the Summer Slump. It’s that time of year when folks are taking vacations, attending graduations and weddings or spending weekends at the lake. The change in routine all too often causes a disconnect in regular giving, even though the light bill, salaries and other typical monthly expenses incurred by the church still need to be paid. While tools such as automatic electronic fund transfers and online giving pages can help lessen the blow, maintaining contact with those who need a little extra encouragement in order to be consistent with their giving can be beneficial for both the church and the giver. In IconCMO, you can use Contribution Statements to identify and generate mailing labels for individuals who have not made a financial contribution during a certain period of time.
From the IconCMO menu, go to Contributions : Management : Cont-Statements.
Let’s take a look at a particular scenario. To do this, we’ll make a few assumptions:
- All contributions that have come in so far for June and July have been posted.
- Giving has been consistent and on-target from January through the end of May, but began to slump in June and continued to run behind in July as well.
- We are primarily concerned with consistent giving on the part of our active members and active non-members.
- We want to make contact with individuals who have not made a contribution in either June or July. We’d like to send out a letter in August to encourage them in their giving, so we’ll need to produce some mailing labels.The setup parameters should look similar to what is shown below.
Several important parameters have been highlighted in yellow. Notice that the People Who Have option has been changed to Not Given, so that we only print labels for folks who have not given a gift. We have set a date range which covers June and July, specified that we want people with a Household Status of either Active or Active NonMbr, and set our Reporting Options choice to Labels (All) so we get mailing labels instead of statements. Setting the correct Label Type and clicking the Show Report button will generate output to a PDF document from which mailing labels can be printed.
It’s possible you may want to produce your letter by employing a mail-merge technique, as this will allow you to automatically insert first names in the salutation of the letter. You may also want to print the member’s address on the letter itself. To do this, go to Contributions : Management : Cont-Giving Reports and click on Pledges and Contributions with Contact Info to access the report.
This report can generate output for the same group of people we printed labels for from Contribution Statements. The setup for the report should look similar to what is shown below.
Notice we have set a Date Range which covers June and July, specified that we want people with a Status of either Active or Active NonMbr, set our Pledge Range so that it doesn’t matter whether they made a pledge or not, and set our Giving Range to zero so we only find those folks who have not made a contribution in either June or July. Additionally, our output will be in Excel Report format, so we can mail-merge the data. Clicking the Show Report button will generate output that looks similar to what is shown below.
You will notice that the Name column is not in the ideal format for a mail-merge letter. There are options in Excel that can be used to put first names in one column and last names in another. In this example, we’ll use some formulas to do this. In the next two screen shots, you’ll see that we’ve inserted two new columns, First Name and Last Name. By entering (and then replicating) a formula in these columns, we can separate the first names and last names for our mail merge. The formula for extracting the First Name from Column A into Column B is shown in Figure 6, while the formula for extracting the Last Name from Column A into Column C is shown in Figure 7. The result yields some name columns with a data format that is suitable for use in a mail-merge letter.
Now that you have the tools needed to reconnect with your lapsed givers, might this be a good time to write that letter?
Our support forum is a great way to get the information that you are looking for. Everyday questions are being answered that remain public for all to see. Just type in some keywords like contributions, households, payroll, adding household, etc. and you can see what questions have been asked or suggestions that have been made.
To get started just click on the help button in the upper right corner of your screen. Then click on ‘Visit our support forum’. You can ask your questions and someone from the Icon team will respond. You can also search the older questions because more than likely it has been asked and answered by someone else.
If you have any questions using the forum give us a call at 1-218-236-1899.