Ten things a church treasurer must know

Updated July 20, 2017

The church treasurer's role is vital to a church. The ability of the church to run smoothly is dependent on the financial stewardship of the treasurer. Even though congregants who accept the position of church treasurer may have little or no background in accounting, they must understand at least 10 things to carry out their duties.


A church treasurer must know what every outgoing expense is. Whether it's operational costs, buying religious goods or reimbursing a clergyman, it must all be accounted for. A best practice in this regard is to record transactions immediately to prevent any kind of mix-up.


Just as church treasurers must know everything about what's being spent, they must also know everything about what's coming in. Church treasurers must record all payments received, such as fees for services, fees from renting out the church and money garnered from collections.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a vital tool to monitor finances on a regular basis. This document will inform church treasurers of how much money is on hand and, in turn, show them areas in which the church must be careful about spending.

Record Keeping

Church treasurers must have a dependable record-keeping system. They must keep backup copies of all records and make sure they get receipts for everything.

Know Who Is Spending What

If the church has various committees, each one of them will have an operational budget and be responsible for monitoring that budget and liaising with the treasurer as to how effective it is. The treasurer must know each committee and each member of them and keep in regular contact.

Liaising with Larger Bodies

Just as church committees may have to report to the treasurer, the treasurer may have to report to diocesan or synod-based committees. The church's financial health has a direct effect on the churches around it, so the treasurer should make sure he knows when and where any meetings he's requested to attend will be and who will be there. The treasurer should have up-to-date copies of all records to show to these committees or groups as needed.

Look for Opportunities

A treasurer should always be ready to embrace and accept chances for the church to build stronger links with the community. If the parish has a hall that isn't used on some nights, the treasurer could inquire whether a local sports or game club wants to rent it that night. Provided the club is responsible, the relationship can be mutually beneficial.

Know How To Budget

Inevitably, the treasurer will be a vital part of working out the church's budget for the next financial quarter. Again, provided the church records are up to date, the treasurer should be able to make informed decisions about where the church's money can be better spent, what areas need more, what areas could manage with less and how to bring more money in.

Plan for Lean Times

If the parish has an excess in the budget, it's tempting to spend it. The community-driven nature of a church means there will always be demands on whatever unclaimed funds the church may have, and the treasurer's responsibility is to assist in deciding where the money is spent. She should not be afraid to save money as well as spend it.

Overseeing the Annual Audit

As a financial officer of the church, one of the most important duties of a treasurer is overseeing the annual audit. The treasurer should contact his local tax organisation and ask for any guidance it may have on what will be required. If there are training courses on how to prepare for an audit, the treasurer should try to attend. Some churches may provide financial assistance toward the cost of the course.

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About the Author

Alasdair Stuart has been a freelance writer since 2005. He has been published in "Sci Fi Now," "Death Ray," "Neo" and "The Guardian." He also hosts "Pseudopod," an award-winning horror podcast. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and history and a master's degree in contemporary English literature from Leeds University.