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Strength in numbers - why is a finance team so important?

Archie McDowall picture Archie McDowall
3 min

There is little doubt that strong churches do things together. Groups of people gather to worship, to share food, to study the bible, to walk in the countryside, to support one another in times of need and perhaps even to do the maintenance work which needs to be done around the church building. Everyone would agree that there is strength in numbers as a result of the encouragement, mutual accountability, and shared knowledge that can be gained when working as a team.

It is therefore surprising that, when it comes to looking after finance in the church, it is very common to find that all of the work is often done by a single person acting as treasurer.

This at a time when the role of the treasurer is becoming increasingly complicated, and this trend is likely to continue in the future. The workload of the treasurer continues to increase and it is probably fair to say that the role can no longer be done effectively by a single person. The additional complexity has also led to an increase in the number of existing treasurers who are finding it difficult to continue in the role, either because of time pressures or just because they feel ill-prepared and without the necessary skills. Equally, there has been a corresponding difficulty in finding suitably qualified and experienced people to take on the role of treasurer.

If ever there was a time to gather together a group of people to look after the finances of the church it is now! The immediate reaction to this suggestion is often one of despair – it is difficult enough to find one person to be treasurer never mind finding a team of people!

However, experience shows that when the role is broken down into individual tasks or groups of work, it can actually be easier to find people willing to take on the smaller pieces of work. A finance team also means that the church or charity is not so dependent on individuals and is less at risk should the treasurer decide to retire or be unable to continue for another, perhaps unexpected, reason. Some of the smaller tasks might also require different skills from those required of the treasurer – data input, for example, could be done by someone who might feel that they do not have the necessary experience to be treasurer. This is also a good way to train future treasurers!

A team of people looking after the finance gives opportunities to support each other and to provide “sounding boards” for discussion around finance. A team also helps to ensure that transactions are properly authorised and controlled, and provides the mutual accountability that was mentioned earlier.

With so many benefits coming from having a wider team, should you decide to adopt the team approach, Stewardship has produced some helpful briefing papers which outline how this might be achieved and what should be considered. Our paper What to do when your church treasurer leaves gives some useful ideas on how to split the role to make it easier to find replacements, while our paper How to create a finance team for your church or Christian charity gives some more guidance on what a team might look like.


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Written by

Archie McDowall

Archie joined our Accounts Examination Services team in 2020. Prior to this he was Deputy General Treasurer of the Church of Scotland and before that he managed the charity audit section of a firm of Chartered Accountants. Archie has been involved in advising treasurers and trustees of charities for many years and has also served as a trustee of various charities.

Archie and his wife Sarah live in Essex, where he preaches and leads worship in various different churches on a regular basis. Their daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren live in Lancashire. In his spare time Archie enjoys going to the theatre.

Archie is passionate about the local church and the ways in which it serves its community and the most vulnerable on the margins of society. He recognises the importance of supporting volunteers within churches, particularly those who are facing pressures to comply with increasingly complex legislation on finance and governance.