While the electronic giving and online giving options available through Egiving, a provider of electronic giving systems to Christian ministries, provide a high-tech means of managing donations, some time-honored Biblical principles of management and handling finances always apply. In some ways, these ideals might be easier to attain through the technological tools our modern world affords us, but they deserve careful consideration, regardless of the means your organization chooses to use.
Unfortunately, many churches and parachurch ministries are not run as efficiently as they could or should be, and that poses many problems, both practically and philosophically. The reasons include issues that plague most churches and Christian ministries—untrained volunteers, overworked employees, outdated systems. Excuses aside, if finances are not handled in a secure and above-board manner, the potential consequences can be devastating, both to the ministry and to the cause of Christ. If the processes in place are not wisely outlined and followed, the entire ministry can be at risk. Even if no issues ever come up, shoddily kept financials are a negative testimony to a God who desires all things to be done in an orderly fashion (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Whenever paper money is received, it should be counted by two separate individuals and recorded carefully. Any cash should be stored in a secure location until time to make a deposit, which should not be unreasonably delayed. Credit card information should also be stored securely, preferably through a third-party organization, rather than onsite at the ministry location. If hard copies are stored locally, all regulations should be fastidiously met.
In Matthew 6, Christ instructs His followers to give secretly, when they give to the needy. Although sometimes taken out of context, the idea of not letting “your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (from verse 3) is pitted against the extreme opposite practice of the hypocrites who announce their giving, in order to receive kudos for their generosity (verse 2). While the instructions are for givers, those determining the process for recording and processing donations within a ministry should honor givers’ wishes to remain as anonymous as possible and encourage privacy of gifts.
While paper checks require human recording of amounts and making of deposits, and sometimes manually created reports for income tax purposes, electronic giving bypasses the need for those within an organization to physically handle the money and, as a result, view the individual amounts of gifts by specific people. Of course, even if a ministry transitions to using mostly electronic and online giving solutions, it may continue to accommodate those who wish to give through low-tech means. In doing so, carefulness should always be used in allowing a limited number of people to observe and handle checks, and those individuals should use the utmost discretion in maintaining givers’ privacy.
The solutions offered by Egiving can help both churches and parachurch ministries to attain a higher level of organization and privacy than they can achieve by doing things the “old fashioned way.” Applying timeless principles doesn’t have to mean avoiding technology any more than it necessitates using shekels or widow’s mites. Instead, ministries are expected to be wise stewards of the donations entrusted to them, utilizing the best means available to them, during the era when they serve.