You can get the help you need from the UMC General Council on Finance and Administration in the form of the latest version of the Local Church Audit Guide. The guide is available online at gcfa.org/audit.html, or if you are unable to access the guide, contact the district office. It includes an audit check list and a “Report of the Annual Audit” with instructions. The guide answers such questions as:
- Who can perform a local church audit?
- How do restricted assets differ from designated assets?
- How is an audit conducted?
Section 258.4(d) of the 2008 Book of Discipline makes it mandatory that every local church finance committee “shall make provision for an annual audit of the financial statements of the local church and all its organizations and accounts.”
But there are more reasons than that for annual audits. Here are a few:
- to protect the persons the local church elects to offices of financial responsibility from unwarranted charges of careless or improper handling of funds;
- to build the trust and confidence of the financial supporters of the church in the way their money is being accounted for (trust and confidence lead to improved patters of financial support);
- to set habits of fiscal responsibility to assure that when there is turnover in personnel there will be continuity in accountability and nothing will fall through the cracks;
- to assure that gifts made to the church with special conditions attached are consistently administered in accordance with the donor’s instructions, and thus let donors know their gifts are used as intended;
- to provide checks and balances for sums received and expended.