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5 Step Checklist to Prepare for Natural Disasters Infographic

As your community and church prepares for Hurricane Florence to make landfall, know that we stand with you in love and prayer. We realize how important it is to rally support following a disaster. To assist, we have made a quick infographic to give you some guidance.

Continue reading “5 Step Checklist to Prepare for Natural Disasters Infographic”

2018 GAAP Reporting Standards: What You Need to Know

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Is your ministry prepared for the new GAAP reporting changes that take affect for this filing season? If your church files reports according to these GAAP standards and you haven’t made the necessary changes in your accounting practices, you could be looking at a larger bill from your auditors and a scramble at the end of the year. Join the team from FellowshipOne along with our partners at Arlington, Texas accounting firm PSK CPA as we discuss these changes and talk about ways you can be sure you are in compliance.

BONUS: Get a preview of the new tool coming to ShelbyFinancials that will help make pulling together records for GAAP a breeze.

To register, click here.

5 Steps to Prepare for Natural Disasters

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During a crisis, communities tend to turn to churches for support. If ministries don’t plan for the worst, they may find themselves unprepared, overwhelmed, and unable to provide the necessary assistance for members of their congregation and their community. Without proper preparation, a church might risk exhausting its resources, responding inadequately, or — worst-case scenario — failing to respond at all.

Join the team at FellowshipOne for our webinar, “5 Steps to Prepare for Natural Disasters” where we will outline some of the most important elements you need to consider when preparing for a natural disaster.

BONUS: Those who register will get a copy of our FREE e-guide also titled, ‘5 Steps to Prepare for Natural Disasters”.

To register, click here.

Our Top 7 Cringe-Worthy Church Website Design Mistakes

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Are there certain websites you dread going to? Like your local library’s website that hasn’t been updated since 2003 or your son’s little league website that makes it impossible to find the schedule?

Bad designs lead to bad user experience. And if someone is frustrated with your website, they’ll leave—it’s as simple as that. Don’t let your poorly designed church website scare away potential visitors. Avoid these seven cringe-worthy design mistakes:

1. Designing Your Website For the Wrong Audience

If someone reaches your website and they don’t feel like they belong, they will leave—which is why determining your audiences and catering your content to them is so important.

Your church members aren’t the only one using your website. If it’s all about community groups and Sunday service and everything for only church members, new visitors may feel disinterested or like they don’t belong.

As important as it is to make newcomers welcome inside your church building, it’s equally important to make them feel welcome in your virtual church.

When you’re designing for visitors, you’ll want to ensure the following information is clearly visible and easy to find on your website:

  • Service times
  • New visitors section
  • Location
  • Contact information

Because you and your church members already know this information, it can be easy to overlook. However, if you want new visitors to your site to also be visitors to your church building, you’ll need to make sure this information is easy to access.

2. Not Having Mobile Optimization

77 percent of adults own smartphones, and many of them use their phone to access the Internet. Since most people will use their phones to access your church website, don’t make them have to squint at their screens or zoom in! If your website is not optimized for mobile users, you risk losing visitors on your website, which could translate into losing visitors at your church services. In addition, a mobile-friendly website will help:

  • Your website will get a higher Google ranking
  • Decrease your bounce rate, which means once people find your site, they will stay there
  • By going mobile, your website will be much more convenient to use while offering a friendly user experience.

3. It Looks Like It Came from the 90’s

As much as we all love Fresh Prince and Full House, who wants to be stuck in the 90’s? If your church website contains 8-bit icons and too much white-space with terrible Photoshop, it could look like it was designed in 1998, not 2018!  If you want a modern-looking website, you’ll want to check out these 7 Innovative Church Website Design Trends.

4. Too Many Special Effects

Animation and special effects are great for websites as they can increase user engagement. Beware of too many special effects, however, as it can get tacky really quickly. Instead of bombarding visitors to your website with a ton of special effects, use them sparingly and use them wisely.

Here are some advantages of using just the right amount of special effects on your church website:

  • A slideshow can be extremely useful for websites with multiple images
  • The special effect of motion can really catch the user’s attention
  • While these are some great ways to use special effects, you probably don’t want to use all of them on the same page.

5. Inaccurate Images

If your youth ministry staff wears jeans and a t-shirt normally, don’t show pictures of them in slacks, ties, and dresses. Your photos should reflect your true identity. Images of your staff should also be up-to-date. If your worship leader once had a beard with black hair but is now clean-shaven and blonde, you’ll want to get the picture updated. This will help your visitors recognize your staff when they meet.

While stock images can be good options occasionally, you’ll want to include as many real-life photos as possible. Too many stock photos can be a deterrent for potential visitors. If you use royalty-free images and stock photos, you’ll want to double check the copyright. If the copyright does allow you to use the photograph, you may need to give proper credit.

6. Slow Load Time

While this is more of a user experience mistake than a design mistake, it can still dictate your design. Using images or videos that are too large can affect your website loading time. Most consumers expect a website to load in under two seconds, and if it doesn’t, they may get impatient and leave. Making sure your website is quick-to-load can help increase your Google Ranking and increase your conversion rate. Check out these ways you can increase your website’s load time.

7. Not Having an Updated Website

All of these mistakes can be overcome by a diligent website visitor. However, the only mistake that you can’t overcome is summed up in the catch-all phrase “not up to date.” There can be nothing more frustrating than checking out a church website only to find outdated content. When someone visits your website, they want to know which small groups are taking place now, not last winter. It’s simply not enough anymore for the pastor to update their congregation by making announcements or by including changes in the weekly bulletin. It’s an absolute must for the website to be updated, especially for churches who are searching for more visitors.

Next Steps

Your church’s design speaks volumes about your church—you don’t want to have someone take a glance at your homepage and think, “Oh, my…” (in a bad way). Everybody has their own list of cringe-worthy design mistakes that we may have missed on this list. As you start designing you may think of your own, too.

Still feel like you need extra help? Take a look at our available templates here!

Shelby Financials Best Practices: Separation of Duties

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Our blog today is from Alfred Johnson, the product owner for Shelby Financials, who has been working with churches implementing Shelby for the past 22 years. Alfred has also served as a pastor for 32 years, served on the board of directors for a Bible training institute, and taught business and computer classes at a junior college among many other accomplishments. You can find more thoughts from Alfred on his blog at alfredjohnson.net.

A number of years ago I was contacted by a pastor wanting to know how he could log in to their accounting application. I told him that his church accountant could give him access. His answer? “She will not let me look at the books.” On another occasion, I was assigned to assist a church with their accounting approach. I contacted their accountant about one week before scheduled to arrive. She asked how much I knew about accounting. When I told her, she canceled the training.

From what I have observed and read, churches that have a long time highly trusted employee or volunteer with access to church funds are guilty of either tempting an employee to steal from the church or allowing the possibility of undetected theft.

It does not matter how small or large your church is. You need to create and enforce a separation of duties protocol if for no other reason than protecting the integrity of your employees. Using the tools in Shelby Financials along with common sense will help you structure tasks so that there is less chance of becoming a victim of an internal theft or someone questioning staff integrity.

Accounts Payable: Let’s start here.

  • Do you allow staff or volunteers to take a blank check on a shopping trip? That check can be made payable to anyone. Oh, I know you always get a receipt to enter into AP. Well anyone can alter or simply create a receipt that looks legit. Just do not allow this practice.
  • Does the same person who enters an invoice into AP, also print, sign, and post the entries to GL? It would be better to have someone not associated with the purchase or entry of the invoice be the one to sign the check. If you use electronic signatures when printing checks, then there needs to be some multiple person control with this process.
  • Do you allow credit card holders to purchase anything they want? It would be better to have a purchase approval process prior to making a purchase and a routine to validate charge was actually for church use. Using a credit card can be similar to giving someone a blank check.

Bank Account Management:  This one is simple.

  • Balance the bank statement into the accounting system and do it each month. Don’t let statements stack up.  Just do it.
  • The person assigned to reconcile the bank statement should not be associated with any of the payments or receipts posted to the bank account. And, it has been suggested by some auditors that every so often an additional person should examine a copy of the bank statement.

General Ledger:  Watch for the following.

  • If you have the staff, then have your accounting manager or business manager finalize all postings into the ledger.
  • Be alert for an unusual number of correcting entries. If you see this with some frequency, then start asking questions.  If it continues, ask more questions.
  • Be alert for a large number of manual journals. If your chart of accounts is set up correctly, and the applications used correctly, then there should not be an unusual number of this type of activity. However, with outsourced payroll and other third-party providers, you might see more manual entries than usual. Just remember that it is easy to change journals from outside applications/services.

Accounts Receivable: This can be tricky.

  • Accounts Receivable is most often used by churches that support a daycare or have a school. By the very nature of the required structure, the daycare/school operation becomes separated from the church’s general operation. This separation can result in a lack of proper accounting oversight.
  • Create an internal audit committee to periodically check on the following:
    • Review amounts being charged to each student to verify compliance with established fees.
    • Check accounts receivable overdue accounts to be sure that customers are staying current with billings.
    • Assign the church business manager the task of finalizing all accounts receivable general ledger postings.
    • Church business manager should verify that accounts receivable balances with the general ledger at least once a quarter.
  • Checks and cash received should be secured and daily transferred to the church business office.

Payroll:  Paychecks are important.

  • Access to the Payroll application should be closely controlled. That said, more than one person should be able to run scheduled payments.
  • The employees that can process a payroll should not have access to change compensation or deduction.
  • Any changes to employee records affecting pay should be reviewed in the application by management.

Top 4 Metrics for Your Church Website

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So, your church has a website. That’s great, but is it working for you?

The only way you can really answer that question is through data. Just as you do in your church with metrics such as attendance, if you want to get the most out of your website, you should be keeping up with certain data points so that you can be sure that your site is doing its job for your church. This type of data is more formally known as Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. The specific KPIs that your church tracks depends largely on the goals your ministry team has for the website, but here are four smart KPIs you can start with.

1. Most Viewed Pages

This number will provide clear insight into what your online visitors are most interested in. If most of your visitors are going to the small group finder, it’s a good indication they want to connect with others. If they are mostly viewing your videos, they may be interested in what services are like. Knowing your most viewed pages will show you where to focus your efforts.

If one page has a large number of views, but people tend to frequently leave your site after viewing the page (this is also known as your bounce rate), this should tell you that this particular page needs work. Clearly there is interest here, but the content on the page isn’t what they’re looking for. Update or change the content and see if your bounce rate decreases.

2. Conversion Rates

Calls-to-Action (or CTAs) are invitations for your users to interact with your church through the website. This generally takes the form of buttons with messages like “sign up now.” When someone clicks on a button like this requesting more information, they are said to “convert.” The more conversions you get from these interactions, the more opportunities you have to gain potential members.

If your conversion rates are low, meaning people are not acting on these calls to action often enough, it could be the wrong CTA for that page, the CTA could be too hard to find, the wording isn’t clear enough, or you are attracting the wrong audience.

By monitoring your conversion rates, you can get a better sense of what offers your members are ready for, what wording motivates them, and what pages they convert from. Knowing this information means you can change, replace or eliminate CTAs which can help you increase your conversion rates and ultimately gain more contacts.

3. Traffic

This metric not only tells you how many people are coming to your site, but where they are coming from and how long they are staying.

Some typical sources for traffic are:

  • Organic search (when someone enters a keyword into a search engine and your website pops up)
  • Referrals from other websites (when someone has a link to your website on their website)
  • Social media
  • Direct traffic (when someone types your url directly into the search bar)
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) (Any paid traffic campaigns)

For example, if you’re site is seeing a lot of traffic from social media or email marketing, then you know those methods are successful and you can put more of your resources there. If you’re running PPC campaigns, such as Google AdWords, but not seeing the traffic from them, you may decide to stop advertising on those platforms.

4. Online Giving

Giving is a very important metric for churches and online giving is easy to measure through your online giving platform.

Knowing when, how often and how much your members are giving can help you set goals around your online giving. This data is critical to your overall plan to increase giving in your church.  Use what you find here to try new ways to encourage people to give online and set up recurring giving.

Remember that your church’s values and goals will determine the exact KPIs you track for your website. So that everyone is on the same page, it’s best to sit down with your church leadership team and write down those goals and what type of data will give you the best view of your progress. Once you have established those KPIs, make sure that you check those metrics frequently so you can make adjustments on the fly and get the most out of your church’s website.

Let us help you set up a custom website for your church. Find out more here.

FellowshipOne is Touring with XPastor!

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XPastor is bringing a compensation workshop to 12 cities around the nation, and we’re touring with them! We will have a booth at every single XPastor event from August to November, and we’re hoping to see you there! This workshop is ideal for Senior and Executive Pastors, Governing Board and Finance Team members, and staff being mentored. In this insider’s reveal of how to pay pastors and church staff, learn a top to bottom, step-by-step guide to setting equitable pay in your church.

Make plans now to join us at one of the 12 regional events:

1. South—Chase Oaks Church, Dallas (Plano), Texas: Tuesday, August 21

2. Midwest—Christianity Today at College Church, Chicago (Wheaton), Illinois: Thursday, August 23

3. Midwest—Stones Crossing, Indianapolis (Greenwood), Indiana: Tuesday, August 28

4. West—Mountain Springs Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado: Thursday, August 30

5. Northwest—Crossroads Bible Church, Seattle (Bellevue), Washington: Thursday, September 6

6. West—Shepherd’s Grove, Orange Country, California: Tuesday, September 11

7. Northeast—Shelter Rock Church, Long Island (Manhasset) New York: Wednesday, September 19

8. Midwest—The Grove Church, Minneapolis (Maple Grove), Minnesota: Tuesday, October 2

9. Northeast—Reston Bible Church, Washington, DC (Sterling, Virginia): Wednesday, October 10

10. South—Mosaic Church, Orlando, Florida: Tuesday, Thursday, November 1

11. South—Atlanta, Georgia: Wednesday, November 7

12. Pacific—Grace Bible Church Pearlside, Honolulu, Hawaii: Thursday, November 15

For more information on these workshops and to register please visit www.xpastor.org.

FellowshipOne+Shelby Financials FREE Overview Webinar

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Join us for a FREE Overview of FellowshipOne + Shelby Financials as we give an overview of the Shelby Financials suite including: General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Bank Account Management, Accounts Receivable, Asset Management, and Payroll.

We will be joined by Alfred Johnson, the product owner for Shelby Financials, who has been working with churches implementing Shelby for the past 22 years. Alfred has also served as a pastor for 32 years, served on the board of directors for a Bible training institute, and taught business and computer classes at a junior college among many other accomplishments. He will give us a unique insight into how FellowshipOne and Shelby Financials can work together to benefit your ministry.

Join us next Thursday, July 12, at 1:30 p.m. CST. To register, click here.

Free Webinar on 2018 Tax Changes

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FellowshipOne is proud to partner with PSK CPAs to bring you a FREE webinar titled Navigating Uncertainty: Three Key Changes in the Financial and Tax Regulations for 2018 at 1 p.m. CST tomorrow (June 28). To help you prepare for these new changes, we will also be discussing the integration between FellowshipOne’s church management software and ShelbyFinancials, the leader in church accounting software. Don’t miss this opportunity!

To register for this upcoming webinar, click here.

Announcing F1+Shelby’s Financial Integration!

 

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We are excited to announce our Shelby Financials Integration! With this new integration, your church can be equipped with the most comprehensive People Management software on the market along with an unparalleled name in church accounting software.

FellowshipOne is about helping your ministry care for people. Shelby Financials is dedicated to the stewardship of your ministry’s resources. With this integration, your church can be excellent stewards of your two most valuable resources: People and Finances.

With FellowshipOne + Shelby Financials, your church can:

  • Enjoy seamless reconciliation by keeping contributions and receipts perfectly in sync with bank accounts.
  • Maintain a high degree of data integrity by reducing the degree of errors caused by manual data input.
  • Eliminate time wasted on manual data entry with a new intuitive workflow, saving the church on labor costs.
  • Easily find and sync specific subsets of transactions based on the date range and contribution type or batch.
  • Create separate journal entries for each unique Company, Year and Period all in the same export.
  • Maintain separate journal entries for receipts and contributions, even when attributed to the same fund and accounts.
  • Keep contribution data private and financial data secure.

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Click here to visit our website and learn more about FellowshipOne + Shelby Financials. Join FellowshipOne and our partners at PSK CPA for a FREE webinar covering financials on June 28. You can register here.