I misunderstood a finance report to the extent that I thought we had spent $10,000 more than we actually spent. For our church, a $10k hole in the budget is cause for concern. When I started adding numbers together, though, the numbers weren’t coming out that bad, so I knew something had to be up with the report. The bottom line: The report wasn’t user friendly.
So, I learned an important lesson. It’s important to audit our reports (not just our bank statements) to make sure that they are reporting the numbers that you think they are reporting, and that the information is presented in a way that an average person can understand.
Most church management software packages allow you to design your own reports. The ability to write custom reports makes it possible to have nice, clear reports tailored to the needs of your church. Writing custom reports also makes it easy to insert human error. After this experience, I strongly suggest periodically auditing and cleaning up reports to make sure they are set up correctly, and that they are easy to understand.
I hope our finance committee will enjoy our crisp and clear budget report that they will have at our next meeting. And, we are $10k better than I thought we were!
PS. For any of my church members that might read this, I want to make one thing absolutely clear: The $10,000 that I found is just in my head. It doesn’t really exist. Please don’t spend it! Thank you.