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OMG! I’ve seen this one too many times.

Here’s the scenario.  The pastor or other board member receives all the monthly bank statements and credit card statements.  They look over the statements, everything looks good, no errors, no fraudulent transactions.  What next?  They throw the statement away or better yet, they shred the statement.  Why you ask?  We’ll hey, that’s what they do when they handle their personal statements.  Later, they hire a bookkeeper, or better yet, Whitfield and Associates to come on board and set-up the books, and maybe even go back 3 years or so, so they can present financial statements to a potential lender.  But, the bookkeeper has nothing to work with.  No bank statements, no canceled checks – nothing!

So many times, we carry our own personal money management and organizational systems to our new companies.  I’m not just knocking church pastors, this happens with for-profit business owners as well.  Now you may not have any reason to keep your statements for personal reasons (but you should anyways); but you need to hang on to all monthly statements for accounting purposes.

Otherwise, you’re going to spend a lot of time and money ordering copies and waiting for them to come in the mail.

Belinda Whitfield

Belinda Whitfield is a certified public accountant that specializes in serving churches and non-profit organizations. Through her firm, Whitfield & Associates, she provides tax services, accounting and compliance oversight and strategic planning for churches and non-profits throughout the United States.

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  • Reply Belinda Whitfield

    July 10, 2010, 6:25 am

    Check out the Organization and File Management Course in Church Finances 101 to learn more about what you should keep and how long you should save certain documents.

  • Reply Cyrall M Mize

    August 6, 2014, 4:39 pm

    How long should we keep offering/giving envelopes? We print a contribution report for each day that envelopes are entered into our financial system. The envelopes are audited monthly and reconciled with the financial report.

    • Reply Belinda Whitfield

      August 22, 2014, 6:36 pm

      Hello Cyrall,

      Sorry for the delayed response. Busy month with 990 tax return deadlines.
      I’d recommend saving them at least 5 years in case one of your major donors is audited by the IRS.

      Peace and Blessings!

  • Reply Leslie W

    April 8, 2016, 9:29 pm

    How about if we keep exported reports from the bank? It has the same information as a bank statement, does this count? For example, I export the account activity from the account for each month and at the end of the year I export January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015 to a spreadsheet.

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