Record Keeping Best Practices

Record Keeping Tips

Top Six Tips for Keepers of the Records/Parochial Reports

Who are the "keepers of the records" at your congregation? Who regularly tallies financial and membership numbers? It could be any combination of pastor, parish administrator, treasurer, financial secretary, church secretary and/or a volunteer, depending on the size of your congregation.

These tips are for newcomers or anyone who wants a refresher on MNYS church recordkeeping. Statistics are important for parochial reporting, the pastor’s report at the annual congregational meeting, and other uses. Thank you for your keeper of the records ministry!

1. Keep good records, and regularly, for both (1) financials and (2) membership. E.g. for new members, tally how they came to the congregation (Baptism; Affirmation of Faith; Transfers; Other?).

2. Use an actual parish register book – not only computer files. Some people keep records in both ways. But legally, the hard copy needs to exist.

3. Know the due dates and destinations for reporting. February 15 to May 15 – and earlier is better, of course. (Online reporters send Form A, B and C to the ELCA directly, and MNYS lifts off A and C. Print/postmail reporters send Form B to the ELCA, and just Form A and C to MNYS.)

4. Be consistent in use of fiscal year. The ELCA’s fiscal year runs from February 1 to the end of January, but many congregations do it differently. If you are postmailing Form A and C to the synod, please mark and fill in on the bottom of the form itself, "Our fiscal year runs from ____ to ____." This will be helpful to synod staff. (Online reporters, disregard this marking request, as the computerized form doesn’t have a space for it.)

5. Keep one another informed. For example, when mission support has been pledged to the synod, and a check has been sent in, good communication in your parish will eliminate confusion about if it was sent, when, and the amount.

6. Value and thank the keepers of the records. They are performing a valuable ministry that may be overlooked because it’s behind the scenes. If more hands are needed, keep an eye out for volunteers who might enjoy this kind of service. If training is needed for a new treasurer, share resources such as the Administration Matters Blog.