By Robyn Montoya
A bustling church often has a lot of staff and volunteers working together to ensure mission trips, Vacation Bible School activities, community outreach programs and congregational services are running smoothly. It takes time, member’s spiritual gifts and, let’s face it, money to bring those efforts to fruition.
With so many people involved, a church accounting department may find itself trying to develop a system to disperse, track and reimburse expenses to multiple people – on top of reconciling those expenditures to their various programs.
Many churches have found a solution to this challenge through value-loaded business prepaid cards. These should not to be confused with credit cards; prepaid cards cannot be used until you load them.
Business prepaid cards can be issued by your church to its employees or volunteers to purchase goods or services.
It’s a perfect solution for managing expenses because of its benefit to your church, including:
Unlike a credit card with high limits, you can set the amounts you load on a value loaded prepaid card. For example, if a staff member is traveling, you would load a higher value on his or her card than you would a volunteer who is purchasing supplies.
Many card programs allow you to designate if a card can access cash via ATM machines or get cash back during a purchase. In some instances, you can also choose to restrict purchases from certain merchant categories.
With some business prepaid card programs, you can load and unload funds quickly and in real time. If someone needs more money than expected, you can load more funds, which they can immediately access. If all the funds on a card aren’t used, many times you can unload them back into your business account.
Another feature to look for is the ability to systematically reload a card as needed, which is a helpful tool when someone has a recurring expense.
The automation of business prepaid cards inherently increases efficiency by reducing receipt handling and check reimbursements. People will no longer need to pay for expenses out of their own pocket and then submit receipts to you for reimbursement. The time and expense of writing reimbursement checks is eliminated. Online reporting can make reconciling accounts and matching expenses to their appropriate programs easier.
If a value-loaded prepaid card is lost or stolen, you can cancel it immediately. Many issuing banks offer liability protection, as well. Often, you have an option to immediately re-issue a card, so your church isn’t slowed down by the mishap.
A business prepaid card can replace the risky practice of petty cash. You have little oversight over cash, and it can be lost or stolen. With cash spending, you again have to track receipts and manage reimbursements.
During mission trips, your staff and volunteers need to be able to access funds anywhere, anytime. Look for value-loaded business prepaid cards that have EMV chips, which are accepted worldwide.
With many business prepaid cards, you can monitor transactions by card, date, amount and merchant as they happen. This oversight can help immediately identify any potential fraud issues. If there is suspicious activity, the card can be ‘turned off’ until the issue is resolved.
Finally, value-loaded prepaid cards protect your organization and the people you entrust to spend money on your behalf. The ability to limit funds, have real-time oversight and liability protection can help keep your organization’s finances secure.
If you’re considering business prepaid cards for your church, look for those that offer these best-in-class benefits:
- Adding or removing funds in real time
- Tracking purchases by dates, amounts and locations
- Reclaiming unspent funds
- Monitoring spending
- Limiting cash access
- Replacing lost or stolen cards quickly
- Simplifying reconciliation
- Restricting specific merchant categories
- Setting spending limits
Some issuing banks or card programs will require you to have an account with them to take part in their business prepaid card program, but some don’t.
It’s good to compare programs. You should also ask about any fees associated with loading and unloading funds.
It’s a blessing to have a full staff and cadre of volunteers coming together to help the church fulfill its mission.
Churches can use value loaded business prepaid cards to help the organization, and the people supporting it, to manage the costs associated with that.
Robyn Montoya is an assistant vice president for Prepaid Card Partnerships at Commerce Bank. The CommercePayments Prepaid Expense Card provides organizations flexibility in spend management for their employees and volunteers – such as per diem, travel expenses, petty cash replacement, and a wide range of other purchasing needs, www.commercebank.com/expensecard.