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Cash Management Best Practices
By: Alexandra Luna and Kelly Robbins

We have had the privilege of working with religious institutions for many years, including consulting with them on cash management best practices and sharing ideas based on our experience with hundreds of well-run religious customers nationwide.

Below are several cash management services used by savvy religious institutions that you may find beneficial to your organization. 

Commercial Cards
A growing trend among religious organizations today is utilizing commercial cards for recurring payables. This payment alternative offers numerous potential benefits, including improved cash flow, reduction in time managing expenses, and maximizing any rewards points associated with the card program.  

Improving cash flow can make more funds available to help the needs of your religious institution. When you pay a vendor invoice using a commercial card instead of by check, you essentially hold on to your cash longer since most banks give you at least 25 days to pay off the card balance. Using credit cards this way helps you to streamline your payables by reducing the number of checks you write.

Most commercial card providers offer an online card management platform that can be accessed by card-holders and your organization’s card administrator. These online systems help provide an expanded level of control, as well as convenience and efficiency. Card administrators are able to see real time transactions, make payments and make changes to card holder limits. They are also able to generate reports, which helps improve tracking and reconciliation efforts.

Many commercial card providers offer rewards or rebates for your spending. Rewards/rebates may include redeemable points for cash, merchandise, gift cards or airline tickets. The rewards/rebates are typically consolidated so that the organization benefits from the program, but also have the flexibility of distributing the rewards/rebates for the benefit of card holders.  

Account Analysis
Analyzed accounts offer commercial clients an opportunity to leverage checking account balances to offset account service fees. With account analysis, collected balances on non-interest bearing checking accounts are used to generate “earnings credits,” which are applied to service charges. Earnings credit rates are typically tiered and based on account balances; therefore, if account balances earn enough credits, banking fees may be completely eliminated. Organizations with multiple account relationships can take advantage of combined balances for higher earnings credits.

Regular bank statements only show a total monthly service charge without the details on what that service charge is comprised of. An account analysis statement provides an organization with a comprehensive picture of bank activity and balances. A balance summary and corresponding earnings credit details, as well as a breakdown of activity/volumes and related itemized service charges, are provided monthly. Account analysis is another tool to help you better manage expenses and reduce time with reconciling efforts. 

Remote Electronic Deposit Service
Remote electronic deposit service offers organizations a way to help streamline the check deposit process and overcome geographic barriers to consolidated banking relationships. A desktop scanner, PC and Internet connection are all you need to conveniently make deposits without leaving the office.

Scanned check images are virtually endorsed, eliminating the need to manually stamp, and they are then securely transmitted to your bank typically for same-day credit to accounts. By reducing the need for delivering or mailing checks for deposit, an organization may have enhanced availability of funds.

Additional benefits may include a reduction in banking fees. Most banks charge for deposit processing, which can result in substantial fees for deposit activity for organizations with high check volumes. Typically, the checks deposited fee can be reduced by up to 50% for those customers that deposit remotely.

Also, many organizations make copies of the checks before they are deposited; by using remote deposit service, an organization is able to eliminate this process. This saves time and photocopying costs because images of the checks are available for viewing and can be exported. Deposit detail reports are easily accessible and can be exported for reconcilement.

With expedited access to funds and potentially significant cost savings, remote electronic deposit service enables account administrators to help maximize their effectiveness as stewards.

Online Banking
Online banking is an essential tool for organizations of all sizes seeking to improve efficiency and stay on track with finances. Account balances, transaction history, images of paid checks and electronic statements are accessible at any hour from any computer. Additional functions such as ACH, wire origination, bill payment, account transfers, stop payments and positive pay functions can be added to provide additional control over finances, save time, and increase productivity.

Talking to cash management experts who have experience working with religious institutions can definitely be worthwhile. Your financial institution can help you determine which of these services individually or which combination of cash management services might help your religious organization and support your continued good stewardship of your congregations’ gifts. 

Alexandra Luna is the dedicated cash management sales associate for the Religious Institution Division at San Francisco-based Bank of the West. She has 24 years of corporate commercial banking experience and can be reached at alexandra.luna@bankofthewest.com. Kelly Robbins is the marketing specialist in the Religious Institution Division at Bank of the West. She has been with the bank for over five years and can be reached at kelly.robbins@bankofthewest.com.


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