Welcome to the resource page for the Finance Committee! We have compiled information, templates and other resources that we hope will be helpful as you explore and navigate your position as a committee member. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact your District Superintendent, their Administrative Assistant. (https://www.cnumc.org/district-offices) or the Executive Director of Finance and Administration (https://www.cnumc.org/finance-and-administration).
Recording of Finance/Trustees Session Saturday January 28th, 2023 9am-1pm ( Click Here )
Our Conference’s Office of Finance and Administration also has a wealth of helpful resources. Please spend a bit of time familiarizing yourself with this page.
For local church resources, click on “For churches” under “FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION” or https://www.cnumc.org/for-churches
For Finance committee resources, click on “For committees” under “FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION” or https://www.cnumc.org/for-committees
For other Finance-related resources, click on “Resources” under “FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION” or https://www.cnumc.org/finance-resources
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the job description for Finance?
The Mini Version: Finance nurtures the financial vitality of the congregation so that the church can carry out its mission and ministry.
The Short Version: The key word for Finance is “mission.” The focus of this committee is on the mission that your church has chosen. Budgets and fundraising support your mission. Financial transparency is paramount and is buoyed by easy-to-understand financial reports shared with the congregation, a strong system of internal controls and an annual audit of the financial reports. To ensure your church’s current financial health and long-term stability, among other activities, the committee oversees stewardship, administers funds received by the church, disburses funds, reports to the annual charge conference on the audit and uses contributions in accordance with the donor’s intent. The positions of financial secretary and treasurer are essential. Creation of a finance policy handbook is advised. The role of Finance committee member requires the highest standard of care and complete loyalty to the interests of the church.
The Easy-to-follow 3-page Version: See the “Finance Job Description” on the UMC Discipleship Ministries’ website:
The Official Definition: The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 2016
The Discipline is the current statement of what The United Methodists Church believes and how we govern ourselves. See paragraph 258.4 for the full-length duties of the Finance Committee. https://www.umc.org/en/content/book-of-discipline-2584-committee-on-finance
A “Must” for your committee: Guidelines: Finance (2016)
Each member of your committee should have a copy of this extremely helpful and highly recommended booklet with an overview of the year and step-by-step instructions.
Church Financial Records Handbook
This handbook will assist you in the work of extending Christ's love through the business of receiving, distributing, and reporting gifts given by God's people for the mission and ministry of the church. It provides in-depth descriptions of the responsibilities of the financial secretary, treasurer and chairperson.
2. Where can I find the required forms to fill out?
Many forms can now be found on the California-Nevada dashboard known as the People Portal. Portals allow users to easily log in to gain access to important forms and update/submit information for the Conference office. Forms can be accessed here by the chair of the committee. Please see the following link for detailed information and instructions.
General Council on Finance and Administration: https://www.gcfa.org/
3. How can we encourage stewardship?
“Generosity is a matter of action, intentions, and heart. One way to describe it is the grateful outpouring of gifts to others, out of our love for God.” Funding the ministry and mission of your church is only one part of stewardship. The main focus is “growing generous disciples of Jesus Christ, so that the world might be transformed.” The goal is to raise up generous disciples. And generosity brings joy! In congregations in which there is no stewardship team or committee, the finance committee has responsibility for teaching disciples a biblical understanding of abundance and generosity and stewardship of all resources.
Guidelines: Stewardship (2016)
Another definitive guidebook in the Guidelines series.
Discipleship Ministries - Stewardship
Spend some time looking through this site for resources that would encourage your church. The Discipleship Ministries (DM) site on the whole offers incredible resources. Consider signing up for their bi-monthly newsletter.
There are two new DM programs that you might ponder for your church:
See All the People:
“A Twelve-Month Plan for Stewardship in the Local Church”
Churches that are doing stewardship well focus on it more than a couple of weeks in the fall. This is a year-round strategy for helping your folks learn that being a faithful steward is about more than how the church gets its bill paid!
For webinars on Stewardship, please scroll down to the last question.
4. How can we best manage our money?
“Ideas for Managing Your Church Budget in the 'New Normal'”
Offers five ideas for what churches can do to budget for disruption.
California-Nevada United Methodist Foundation:
The purpose of the investment management arm of the Foundation is to assist churches and agencies related to the California-Nevada Annual Conference with the investment of their reserve and endowment funds in a socially responsible manner.
Provides investment and benefit services to UMC clergy and lay employees.
Applying for the Employee Tax Credit: https://arrowpointtaxes.com/employee-retention-credit-calculator/
5. Is online giving really necessary?
Here are some reasons to move to online giving: yes, there are fees, but churches save on offering envelope costs (both boxed and loose); churches and parishioners save on mailing envelope and stamp costs; as the numbers of online users increase, many online giving platforms offer timesaving and expense-saving add-ons that allow churches to download contribution data directly to compatible church software; you can give from the other side of the world or from the comfort of your own living room or pew; and Generations X, Y and Z use it… aka: young people.
Call around to some neighboring churches and see what they are using and how they feel about it.
The UMC has also partnered with Vanco, which specializes in serving churches.
https://www.gcfa.org/partners/vanco/ OR https://www.vancopayments.com/egiving
“Electronic Recurring Giving: Needed Now More Than Ever!” (webinar)
6. What legal responsibilities does Finance need to be aware of?
“2023 Church and Clergy Tax Guide”
For comprehensive information on tax laws that apply to your church and pastor(s). Pay special attention to: Chapter 11: “Church Reporting Requirements” and Chapter 12: “Taxation of Churches.”
IRS Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations:
“Congress has enacted special tax laws that apply to churches, religious organizations and ministers in recognition of their unique status in American society and of their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Churches and religious organizations are generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law; however, certain income of a church or religious organization may be subject to tax, such as income from an unrelated business. The Internal Revenue Service offers this quick reference guide of federal tax law and
procedures for churches and religious organizations to help them voluntarily comply with tax rules.”
A wide variety of tax-related information and forms for clergy and others provided by UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration.
7. What do the treasurer and financial secretary do?
Here we provide a mini-version of the job description. Please see a link below for the easy-to-follow 3-page version or Guidelines: Finance for a more complete description.
Treasurer: An effective church treasurer disburses funds received into the church treasury in a responsible and organized manner, with funds identified and bills paid when due, so that the ministry of the congregation can be effective.
General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) has provided some resources:
Financial Secretary: An effective financial secretary will receive, record, and deposit all funds received by the congregation in a timely, thorough, and confidential manner. The financial secretary works with the treasurer and committee on finance to develop policies and procedures so that funds can be made available to support the ministry of the congregation.
8. Why are separate finance-related roles necessary?
Internal controls are necessary to not only protect assets against theft or accidental loss, but also to promote efficient use of church assets and provide sound financial information for use in reports. These controls serve to shield employees and volunteers from false accusations as well as temptation and they honor the gifts of donors. Controls eliminate secrecy and create an atmosphere of openness where transparency can thrive.
For this reason, certain key financial activities are delegated to different and unrelated people. The finance chair, treasurer and financial secretary must understand and believe in these separations to not only protect the church but also themselves.
Therefore, the income side of the church finances (primarily contributions made and tracked) and the expense side (how bills get paid and payments get made) must be clearly separated. The financial secretary is assigned the income side, while the treasurer handles the expense side. These two positions should not be combined nor held by immediate family members (Book of Discipline, paragraph 258.4).
No person, whether in one of these two positions, serving as Finance chairperson or a trained volunteer, should be authorized to perform more than one of these tasks:
Please see Guidelines: Finance for more details on internal controls.
9. Why and how do we perform an audit?
Section 258.4(d) of the Book of Discipline makes it MANDATORY that every local church finance committee “shall make provision for an annual audit of the financial statements of the local church and all its organizations and accounts.” It’s a good idea for various reasons, including to protect those with financial responsibility in the church, to ensure donors and those who give gifts with special conditions that their money is being handled properly, to maintain accountability when there is turnover in personnel and to provide checks and balances for sums received and expended.
The following form can also be completed by a local church treasurer or a person in your congregations with financial knowledge or expertise.
“California-Nevada Annual Conference – Church Audit Procedures and Internal Control Review” form
For recorded and upcoming webinars on performing audits, please scroll down to the final question.
Remember, the longer that the Finance committee waits to have an audit done, the more time, and possibly money, it will take.
11. Do you offer trainings or webinars?
We highly recommend all church officers and committee members enroll in the Basic Lay Servant Ministries course as well as the Spiritual Gifts class in the conference’s Lay Servant Ministry program. These courses help us become servant leaders and to live into God’s mission and purpose for our lives. For the schedule of classes, click here.
Leadership Development offers various courses throughout the year that will be announced on our conference’s weekly newsletter, Instant Connection (subscribe here: https://www.cnumc.org/news).
Church Leadership Training, Jan. 27 & 28, 2023 – Finance Track: This training covers the positions of Lay Leader and members of SPRC, Finance and Trustees. The recording for the Finance & Trustees track and other information will be posted here as soon as they are available. This training is strongly recommended for those new to a position.
Webinars from Stewardship & Generosity (Discipleship Ministries)
Stewardship & Finance: Get It Right at the Starting Line 2023
Saving Grace Can Change Your Church!
Stewardship on the personal level, this material was developed specifically for those who are part of the Methodist family. Saving Grace draws on tried-and-true lessons in money management, rooted in a Wesleyan perspective.
The Church Audit: You Can Do This!
Upcoming webinars – Sign up now!
Clergy: Stay on Top of Your Taxes! (February 13, 2023)
The Church Audit: It’s Easier Than You Think! (March 14, 2023)
Recording of Finance/Trustees Session Saturday January 28th, 2023 9am-1pm