YNAB for Church/NonProfit-Tracking Donors

I have been a YNABer since 2009. Recently my husband became pastor of a small church. I have found some nice fund accounting software options, but I am continually frustrated that YNAB style budgeting is missing. Anyone out there using YNAB for their non-profit that can share some insight? I am specifically interested on how you are tracking donations/donors for year end letters and recording those deposits. I can't wrap my mind around how we would make the one weekly deposit that consists of multiple donors.  I am willing to use 2 systems if that's what it takes to get control over the budget.  Thanks!

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  • I am the pastor of a small church and we use YNAB for our budgeting. We use a program called "Churchtrac online"  for attendance and it also keeps track of the weekly giving. 

    Like 2
    • Maroon Hail Thank you! ChurchTrac online looks like a great option for us.  I like the ease of tracking donations and sending letters-and then having all of that data tie together with the rest of the church management pieces seems like it would generate real value. (and the price is great!) I am assuming that you do all of your accounting in YNAB-is that correct?

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    • Magenta Cornet yes we run all of the accounting through YNAB. 

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    • Maroon Hail we actually tried the financial part of Churchtrac but decided that YNAB was better for us. When we started using YNAB a year ago we were pretty much living month to month. Now we are fully funded for 3 months ahead plus we have completed several much needed projects. 

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    • Kate
    • Joyful Technical Writer 🌴
    • sweet_sunshine
    • 1 yr ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    I plan on using YNAB for my church's Deacon's Mercy Fund to keep track of where the donations go and how much goes to a specific person in need.

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  • Here's how you could break out your one big weekly deposit into individual donations:

    Create a budget account called 'Donations.' 

    Record each individual donation in that account, being careful to always use the same Payee for repeat donors (ie John Smith is always John Smith, not John J. Smith). Add a check number and and any other distinguishing details to the Memo of the donation entry.

    When you make a bulk deposit to the bank account, record that deposit in YNAB as a transfer from 'Donations.'

    This allows you to map every individual donation to a bank deposit, which ensures you don't miss any individual donations. 

    'Donations' is a 'clearing' account, meaning everything that goes into goes right back out. 

    I prefer this approach to turning those bank deposits into a bunch of splits. 

    At year-end I would export your budget data to csv, import into a Google Sheet (or Excel), and run donor totals in that spreadsheet. 
     

    Like 6
    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Thank you all for this topic. Our church doesn't use YNAB or anything really fancy. They're on Quicken for bookkeeping , excel for a budget, and excel for donation tracking. I was thinking of YNAB to do an audit of Quicken by starting with ending balances from a certain month, manually entering all the transaction in Quicken -using ideas shared in this thread- and then comparing the results at the end of the month. Do the balances match for the accounts, do category balances match the excel budget, and same check on donations by person. Wonderful Ideas! Thanks!

    Would also work for a non-profit, community club, etc. 

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    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    How's the church budget coming along? Also, I have some website ideas for small churches, nothing expensive at all (could even be free). The two example sites I have are kraftchurch.weebly.com and paperchurch.weebly.com These are not real churches, just kraft paper (very clever pun, I think) for your church to look at and think about. Kraft is the smaller one, very static information and very basic. Paper is more involved with updated new feed and uploaded sermons.

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  • Another option for tracking donations apart from the budget is using something like Planning Center Giving. The other issue with YNAB as a church accounting system is check writing, but there are various workarounds. I suppose you could also use a different payroll system to process payroll.

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  • Regarding fund accounting, how are you tracking fund balances in YNAB? If someone donates $5,000 to youth camp to sponsor kids going to camp, how do you track this in YNAB to make sure that $5,000 is budgeted and accounted for as a youth camp expense? How do you make sure those funds aren't reallocated to another area? Fund balances should be tracked outside of budgeted amounts, so that if we need to spend more than available in the general fund, we are able to and later know how much should be made available in the designated fund that we had to temporarily pull from.

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    • Hi Pink Violin !

      If you have a Youth Camp category, you can rename it "Youth Camp $5k" to indicate that account should have $5,000 in it, at all times, until spent on camp. You can also use the notes section for that category (they'll carry over from month to month). There's no way to make it an automatic process, but that will give you a few reminders of what those funds are meant to do.

      Like 1
    • Faness That could help. I'm not sure how to use reports to verify that this is accurate though.

       

      I had another thought. When adding deposits with restricted funds. Those amounts could be applied directly to the fund category instead of TBB. This way, if money is removed from this category to cover another expense, the budget shows a nagative value in the budget column for that month. Now we have a way to check on restricted funds being "overdrawn." We could then use the budget amount to allocate extra general fund money to a needed fund. (Note: We aren't currently using YNAB for this, but I'm thinking through the process.)

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      • Pink Violin
      • Pink_Violin.6
      • 9 mths ago
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      After thinking about it though. That might mess up the income part of the report.

       

      Another idea is to use the name of the payee as the fund name. This way the report shows x amount coming into the fund in income which can be checked against the expenses.

      Like 1
    • Pink Violin You're right about categorizing that income directly to the category. If it isn't categorized as Inflow: To Be Budgeted, it won't be included in your reports as Income. However, changing the Payee for that income would let you track how much you receive for a specific fund! :)

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      • Pink Violin
      • Pink_Violin.6
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness I was thinking about it, and I think another solution would be to create a parent category group for Restricted Donations where each fund is listed as a category. You could then apply all designated income to the respective "fund." Actually spending could be in a separate part of the budget.

      So let's take the youth fund for example. We receive $1,000 toward the youth fund. That gets applied directly to the "Restricted Donations: Youth Fund Restricted Donations" category. Then we spend something for youth, but that expense is applied to "Next Generation Ministries: Youth Ministry." To cover this expense, the needed amount is moved from the restricted fund category to the actual expense category. Any overage would need to be covered with general fund money in TBB. Moving the money to any other area of the budget would become obvious in the reports.

      Also because the Income vs. Expense report can be downloaded as a CSV, we can rearrange the designated funds from expenses to income if needed. We would then need to update the totals to reflect that, but it could be done. I still haven't actually implemented this in our organization, but I'm thinking through how it might work.

      Like 1
    • Pink Violin I want to make sure I understand the layout here. When you say parent category, do you mean a category group that would contain all of the different funds? So, Restricted Donations would be the category group and in that category group there would be Youth Fund Restricted Donations, Camp Fund Restricted Donations, Music Fund Restricted Donations, etc. Then, in a separate category group, the actual expenses? So, a Next Generation Ministries: Youth Ministry category, Next Generation Ministries: Camp Collection category, and so forth? 

      If I'm on the right track here, those "Parent Categories" would be holding categories, but the Income vs. Expense report lists income by Payee, so the categories wouldn't affect the report layout there. You can still set it up that way if you prefer it, just make sure to keep Payees that help organize the reports how you want them to appear. :)

      (Please forgive me if my example category names are terrible!)

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