Empowered Leader Webinar - January 23, 2019 (ECFA)

Dawn has risen on a new year…

Here at Empower, our vision is to equip organizational leaders with services and resources to fulfill their vision. This year, we are launching the Empowered Leader webinar series to share important updates, and to learn from wise voices in the areas of financial management and stewardship.

On January 23 at 11 am CST, Empower clients and staff gathered for our first free webinar of the year, entitled "New Year Financial Update."

Video of the call.

The topics we covered in this 1-hour webinar included:

  • Refreshers on essential financial tasks to complete in the new year

  • Impact of new tax reform laws on ministers, nonprofits, and churches in 2019

  • Major financial and tax pitfalls for churches and nonprofits to avoid

  • Latest updates on challenges to the minister’s housing exclusion and church Form 990 filing exemption

We were joined by special guest, Vonna Laue, executive vice president of Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). She is a leading expert in our country on financial management and governance for churches and non-profits. Learn more about ECFA, and their free resources for churches.

Speaker Contact Info:

Vonna Laue, CPA

Links to Items Discussed:
Housing Allowance Worksheet
Housing Allowance Board Approval
Conflict of Interest Declaration

For more information, contact info@empowerconsulting.net, or ‭(817) 778-8540‬.

End of Year Checklist

It’s that time of year…time to prepare your organization for the end of year bookkeeping tasks. Take the time to prepare now so you’re not caught off guard.


Ensure you have all your invoices, receipts, purchase orders, payroll records, and bank statements on file.  We prefer a paperless environment. You can do this easily with a smartphone camera and a cloud-based file system like Sharefile, Google Docs or Dropbox.


If you don’t do it every month, make sure your financial statements are in order, so you can easily send them to your CPA in January. We'd be glad to help you on the cleanup side.  We love Quickbooks Online for simple, easy-to-use, cloud-based bookkeeping software.


This oft-forgotten tasks leads to needless headaches, fines, and missed deadlines for organizations. Send 1099-MISC forms to all your vendors by January 31, 2019.   The IRS requires you to send one to any sole proprietor or LLC you pay $600 or more in the calendar year for “rents, services (including parts and materials), prizes and awards, other income payments, medical and health care payments, crop insurance proceeds, cash payments for fish (or other aquatic life) you purchase from anyone engaged in the trade or business of catching fish, or, generally, the cash paid from a notional principal contract to an individual, partnership, or estate”.   Penalties are steep for delays and non-filing, so ensure you prioritize this tasks.  If you need our help, we charge a small filing fee per form. In order to meet the filing deadline, we will need all Forms W9 in hand by January 15th.


Your payrolls should be recorded and payroll taxes paid and filed for each quarter.  Make sure you include your year-end bonuses on your last payroll of the year.    Payroll vendors such as ADP , Gusto, and Clergy Financial (for churches) are great providers for cost-effective, fully-outsourced payroll service.   If you use a vendor, pay attention to their year-end updates, including verifying employee names, addresses, and social security numbers for accurate W2 reporting and delivery.


Beginning on January 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will change (sometimes up, sometimes down). Ensure you update your expense reimbursement forms and notify your staff and volunteers to use the new rate when requesting reimbursement for miles driven in 2018.

We hope you have a headache-free end of the year bookkeeping experience. If you need any assistance please contact us, and we'd be happy to work with you.

Six Things to Consider When Outsourcing Church Bookkeeping

Here are Six Things to Consider When Outsourcing Your Church Bookkeeping:

1.  Church Experience:  What kind of direct experience does the firm leadership have in local church financial leadership (from a staff and/or elder leadership level), including a deep understanding of the “language of church.”   

2.  Client Profile:  Does the firm have a focus on serving churches, or is it a side segment of their client base?   Are the churches they serve of a similar size and stage?

3.  Technology:  Do they use the latest technology (cloud based software, paperless bookkeeping, mobile apps), and do they integrate with the ecosystem of software your church is already using?

4.  The True Value Add:  Consider not only how much time it will save me, but how much additional high-level expertise can you can gain from outsourcing.  We would argue you want to find not only a bookkeeper, but strategic partner in your ministry.

5.  References:  Contact several current client references to hear about their experience working with the firm.  Ensure they are similar in size and stage to your church.

6.  Cost:  Does the up front and monthly cost make sense from a cost savings perspective (saving staff wages or reallocating current staff), and your current budget?  As you grow, the price will increase, so are you willing to absorb that into your operating budget?

Please let us know if we can help as you consider outsourcing your bookkeeping.  We offer a free, no-obligation, one-hour consultation.     

Contact Us.