Knowledge Base

PowerChurch Software Newsletter - Spring 2011

Welcome to the Spring 2011 edition of the PowerChurch Software newsletter. The hectic year-end processes are behind us for the year and we have nine months to start preparing for next year-end! This issue covers using some new features in Version 11, as well as revisiting a misunderstood old friend. If you haven't checked out Constant Contact, which Version 11.1 now integrates with, we have a great opportunity for a tour of their features for PowerChurch Software users in a live webinar with the folks at Constant Contact.


Refresh Report Options

One of the most common suggestions that have been received into the wishlist in past years was to make the reporting system a little more forgiving. Some of the reports in PowerChurch Plus have several setup screens, asking for a host of different selections and settings. If you make it all the way through the process, then see the report preview and realize that you forgot to set a check box, you would have to close the report and start all over. Well, not anymore!

Version 11 features an option to Refresh Report Options, which closes the report preview, then re-opens the Report Options or Selection Criteria screen with all of your current settings in place. This allows you to change the one thing that you missed originally and run the report again. Considering reports like the Church Directory, Attendance Register Form, or Contribution Statements, this can save a lot of time with the number of options that can be set and the number of steps that it takes you through. If you mess up once, it's bad enough, but what if it's two or three times?

The Refresh Report Options button looks like this and is located in the Report Viewer toolbar. Once you use it, you will wonder how you lived without it all this time! For those of you who are not yet using Version 11, go download the free full working demo from our web site to take a look:


Donor Restrictions

The Donor Restrictions functionality was added in Version 9 of PowerChurch Plus and allows you to track the available balance of restricted funds from one year to the next. Without this, you would have to use any number of workarounds, including setting up sub-accounts of the checking account, transferring income amounts to asset accounts at year end, or some even worse ideas. Many have tried and successfully set up and used the Donor Restrictions tracking over the years, while many others have had their minds blown trying to understand all the moving parts and follow the flow of money through the entire process. This article, we hope, will demystify the Donor Restrictions features and help convince those of you who have given up on it to give it another try.

The way the system is designed to work, it simply needs to be set up correctly in the beginning, then you hardly ever need to think about it again. You will not be transferring funds around, making adjustments, adding new accounts or anything else after the initial two or three minute setup process. When writing a check to spend restricted money, click the Release From Restriction button, and PowerChurch Plus will take care of the rest.

About the accounts

There are three accounts involved in each Donor Restriction. The initial income account, which is hit when you take in restricted money from Contributions or other sources. There is a release account, which is used when spending restricted money. You don't need to worry about this one once you have set it up. The last account is an equity account (also known as Net Assets or Fund Balance). This is the account that should always show the available balance of the Donor Restriction. You will see it on the Balance Sheet.

Different types of restrictions

In most cases, when dealing with Donor Restrictions, you are dealing with Temporarily Restricted funds. This means that you are allowed to spend the money only for what the donor specifies. They can also be Permanently Restricted, but that money can never be spent and is more frequently an endowment in a long term investment account.

In the following example, the church has gotten estimates for having the interior of the building professionally repainted, but will not be able to fit it into the budget this year. Members begin donating money specifically for this purpose.

Setting up a new Donor Restriction

To set up a new restriction, go to Accounting > Fund Accounting > Maintain List of Donor Restrictions. In Version 11, this is in the Setup sub-menu of the Fund Accounting menu. Click the Add button.

This screen asks for a descriptive name for the Donor Restriction, and which Accounting Fund you will be adding the accounts to. Once finished entering this information, click Next.

This step deals with the equity account. By default, the restricted equity accounts are in the 3200 range. You'll notice a checkbox option that reads "Use existing account". If you have already gone through the trouble to set up the accounts, then you can use this Add New Donor Restriction process to link all the existing information together. If you don't already have the account set up, you can provide the information in the fields at the bottom of the screen. Refer to the list of existing accounts to decide which account number you would like to use and what report level to assign. Click Next when finished.

The same principle applies here on the income account. By default, the Temporarily Restricted income accounts fall into the 4200 number range. You can add a new account or pick an existing account, and refer to the list of existing accounts to choose the account settings. Click Next when finished.

By default, the release accounts for these Temporarily Restricted accounts fall into the 4800 number range. You can add a new account or pick an existing account. Click Next when finished.

It is optional to add an expense account. For this example, there will be multiple expense accounts for supplies and labor for the painters, so we won't bother adding a new expense account this time.

Since most or all of the money coming in for this Donor Restriction will be from Contributions, we will want to add a new Contribution Fund. You can choose an existing Contribution Fund if you already have it set up, or add a new one like we did above. It is important to note that all money coming in to whatever fund you select here will be treated as restricted. This is an optional step and if you do not wish to connect the restriction to a Contribution Fund, you can simply click Next without entering anything.

That's it! Click Finish and everything will be added.

Contributions income

When money comes in from Contributions for repainting the building, you would enter it just like all the other contributions for that date. When they are posted into Fund Accounting, PowerChurch Plus will automatically handle making the money restricted. There are lots of moving parts behind the scenes to make this happen, but to use it, you don't have to worry about any of that!

Spending restricted money

Now, the only other thing to worry about is when spending restricted money. In the example below, we are working in the Accounts Payable > Maintain Open Invoices screen to generate a check to the painters to get started working. This transaction looks like any other transaction would; credit the checking account and debit the expense.

At the bottom left of the screen is a "Release Restricted Funds" button. Click that and the following screen opens up.

If you have multiple Donor Restrictions set up, each will show in this list. Select the one that you wish to release money from and click Next.

The amount of the invoice is automatically entered in the amount field. If, in this example, we had only $400 left in the restricted equity balance, but need to write a $500 check, then we would actually release $400. Click Finish.

PowerChurch Plus will automatically add two additional lines to the transaction that take care of moving the money out of the restricted equity account and make it available to be expensed. That happens behind the scenes, though. We won't worry about that here. Click Save.

When the transaction is posted, the Balance Sheet will show an accurate balance in the restricted equity account. This amount will carry forward from year to year until you release and spend it.

More information

There is a ton of detail available on our web site about all the inner workings of the Donor Restrictions tracking. For inquiring minds that just need to have all the gory details, please refer to the following article in the Knowledge Base on our web site: Accounting For Contributions


Constant Contact for PowerChurch Software users

We have arranged a webinar with Constant Contact, which will discuss best practices in email marketing - what email marketing is, and isn't. It will address the two biggest questions most customers have - Why is email marketing a good idea, and how can it help my church grow? It will review proven ways to get your message opened, strategies for improving response and how the new Can Spam laws apply to you. During this presentation, they use examples of how other churches are using email marketing to grow their organization.

Register for the webinar at the following address:


Training Seminars

Spring has officially sprung. We know this because there are some new training seminars scheduled for the upcoming months! These seminars are scheduled and presented by independant consultants. Take a look at the Training Seminars page on our web site to see if there is one in your area.


Forum Q&A

The Support Forum on our web site is a very active online community of our users and Tech Support staff members. There you can browse through thousands of questions and answers, or post your own. Below are some recent examples.

From General:
Q. We have powerchurch 11 installed. I do a lot of remote connections via RDP for system administration. Is there any way I can turn off the backgrounds within powerchurch? over my slow cell phone internet connection they often bring my session to a standstill while they redraw.
A. Go to File > Preferences > User Setup. Uncheck the Display background on main screen checkbox.

From Accounting:
Q. We have been processing payroll checks manually. How do we update the manual payroll information from January to March, Journal Entries or Salary history in the payroll module?
A. You can change the payroll date on the Process Payroll screen to a previous date and run the payroll for that date. Change the date, and repeat, and repeat, etc.

From Events:
Q. I can't find a place to add a location that would include the church address. We don't use the room scheduler and stuff, but for the Google calendar, which is then displayed on the website, it would be nice that the location (church address) would be uploaded.
A. You can put that in the web notes field and it will be uploaded to the Google calendar. It will not be in the location field, but will show in the notes area.

Created: 03/15/2011
Last updated: 07/25/2021