In any business, having a high level of confidence in the amounts that are owed to various vendors is crucial. This fact is no different within our churches. The key to having this confidence is making sure adequate recordkeeping is maintained. Best practice guides stress that you should always have a consistent method for entering all invoices into your accounting system with the correct information provided on the invoice. This includes invoice number, invoice date, due date, amount, and a description of the products/services indicated on the invoice.
With all accounting software, you should be able to pull a report from your system that will show you a list of all unpaid invoices including the vendor name, invoice date, due date and amount. Having this report can help you examine various things; for instance, are there any accounts payable items that are significantly past due? If so, these should be researched further. Perhaps they have been paid, but due to an incorrect posting, were not removed from the accounts payable list, or maybe a certain invoice was mistakenly overlooked and is truly past due and, therefore, would need to be paid. Also, if there are ever any disputes with vendors over amounts owed, the accurate recordkeeping will give you the assurance you need in order to know whether or not the amounts have been paid in full.
From a fraud perspective, having the Church Governing Council review the unpaid invoice details regularly can hopefully uncover a possible fraud in the early stages.
What methods does your Church use to ensure accurate recordkeeping? Who reviews the unpaid invoice listing and how often?
–Tia Fisher is a Senior Auditor specializing in church accounting with PSK LLP.