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Four Tips for Saving Money on Church Office Supplies

Office supplies, from printer cartridges to pens and paper clips, are an expense that church administrators often take for granted and seldom keep under control. Industry estimates show that the average church office consumes at least $500 worth of office products each year. Even in today's economic environment, gaining control of these expenses is not difficult.

Purchase by catalog or online.
The advent of office product big-box stores has led many small business people to shop grocery-store style for their supplies. Contrary to popular perception, this is a tremendous waste of time and money. It has been estimated that the average shopper spends about 20 minutes driving to the store, 45 minutes in the store, and, of course, another 20 minutes returning to the office. This totals one hour and 25 minutes of lost productive time. Moreover, an additional 17 percent of the bill is spent on unplanned impulse purchases.

A better way to shop is by catalog or online. Similar discount prices are available through national catalog retailers on the same name-brand products. Some of these catalog retailers deliver for free. Shopping by catalog also curtails the number of impulse purchases made.

Don't pay hidden extra charges.
Many office vendors offer low prices, and then hit the customer with processing, shipping, or handling charges. Make sure that you aren't taken in. You can find the same products at similar or lower prices without the extra charges. Also, be sure to look for vendors who offer toll-free phone and fax numbers.

Look for overall savings, not loss leaders.
No office products vendor is going to beat its competitors every time. Each dealer offers extra-low prices on certain items in order to get customers. Don't be lured in by short-term savings on one item. Save money on your overall bill by selecting a vendor that offers lower overall prices.

Monitor and control your spending.
Finally, track your office products purchases by item and quantity. Only by knowing what you buy, in what quantity, and how often, can you gain full control of your office supply expenses.

Answering these questions allows you to make decisions about when it makes sense to buy in bulk, when you are buying too much of one item, or when you are spending too much money. An easy way to get this information is to shop online. Online shopping generally allows you access to historical information about your previous orders, including item price, quantity, and your total order amount.

Using these guidelines will quickly give you control over your office supply expenses. More importantly, they will save you time - your most important resource.

Plus: Value of Effective Record Keeping
Which of us would have confidence in a doctor that did not keep records of our health and our experiences in his office? Sunday School records are written or electronic reports on the involvement and growth of people. When kept properly, records provide information on the health of classes and departments and information for effective ministry.

A record-keeping system is a tool that helps identify people and their needs, tracks their participation, and gives some indication of spiritual growth. A record system takes the efforts of Sunday School out of the realm of generalization and personalizes it. Record keeping becomes a way in which leaders have accountability for members and members become accountable for the commitments they have made to their class, church, and God.

Records should be:

More than a head count: If our records are only a head count, we will know how many came on a given Sunday, but we will not know who came, or perhaps more importantly, who did not come. We will not know how many new people we are reaching.

More than just names: Records provide vital organizational information. If your Sunday School is going to organize to meet needs you must know the make-up of your Sunday School. Records should include ages (date of birth), spiritual condition, church membership information, correct address and phone number, and other such information. The ages of the members of your Sunday School provide essential information in organizing your Sunday School, assigning prospects, and dealing with ministry needs.

More than just computerized records in the church office: For records to be helpful, they must be accessible. You may have the finest detailed records, organized, charted, and annotated, but if the records are not in the hands of your leaders on an ongoing basis your leaders are not encouraged to use the records for ministry. Computer records are wonderful tools, but make sure that hard copy records are in the hands of your leaders for them to use anytime.

More than just attendance information: Attendance information is important and should be monitored, charted, and used in planning, but records are much more than that. However, records are more than just attendance, they are an essential tool for effective ministry.

This article is courtesy of Lifeway Christian Resources, www.lifeway.com.

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Religious Product News