Mission trips can create specific challenges for both volunteers and church leaders, especially when it comes to necessary spending. Expenses must be tracked and recorded, and volunteers must be reimbursed where possible. Doing all of this by hand isn't just time consuming and arduous, but can create more opportunity for error.
A better alternative is an expense reporting solution that can help the church better organize its finances and mission trip expenses. Let's take a look at why this kind of technology is ideal for today's churches:
1) Better Tracking and Visibility for Receipts
As ChurchLaw&Tax pointed out, it's important that mission trip leaders keep a detailed recording of all expenses that take place during a mission trip, and obtain receipts where possible. This log should also include information like the date expenses took place, the names of volunteers spending the funds, how much was spent, and the purpose of each expenditure.
Organizing all of this information alongside the necessary receipts can be a challenge, especially when church members are away from their normal workspace. In these situations, few things are better than being able to complete all of this work from the palm of your hand via a mobile device. Now, more religious organizations are leveraging technology than ever before, and using an expense reporting solution that enables users to easily capture receipts and track all of the particulars of their spending significantly streamlines expense management. At the same time, this solution also provides access to important spending data for church leaders, providing the visibility they need to properly organize church finances.
2) Account for All Donations
Tracking expenses during mission trips is important for a number of reasons, and near the top of this list is the fact that money garnered from donations must be accounted for. Churches and religious organizations are tax exempt, but they must keep meticulous records of how donations were used in order to qualify for this status. This is particularly true during mission trips.
As ChurchTax&Law noted, any spending of donations that cannot be accounted for must be returned to the church after the trip. Putting in place an advanced expense reporting solution can help ensure that all expenses - particularly those funded by donations - is tracked and accounted for, helping churches align their practices with their tax exempt responsibilities.
3) Streamline Exchange Rate Calculations
One consideration that is often overlooked during mission trips is the daily exchange rate that could impact expense tracking and reimbursement. Short Term Missions found that 65 percent of all mission trips take place overseas, and most regions use their own currency.
Thankfully, an industry-leading expense solution can take the guesswork out of exchange rate calculations. Using daily exchange rates according to the date of the expense receipt, exchange rates can be automatically and accurately calculated. This means your church's reports are consistently correct, and spending is always tracked in the most precise way.
Church mission trips require a number of important considerations, and while tracking spending is imperative, it can fall to the wayside during the trip, creating complications after the journey has ended. These problems can be eliminated with an advanced expense solution that allows mission trip participants to easily track spending, organize receipts, and account for the donations used to support their work.
With so much corporate travel taking place, it's imperative that your company's traveling workers are supported with the right tools and strategies. What do your traveling employees need? Let's take a look:
1) A Clearly Understandable Travel Policy
There's nothing worse for a staff member than to be asked to take a trip for the organization without having a robust understanding of the business's travel policy. This policy must outline what is expected of employees, as well as what's expected of the company, especially when it comes to paying for travel costs and reimbursement.
According to a report from the Global Business Travel Association, 79 percent of traveling employees noted that their organization's travel policy has the largest impact on booking decisions. In fact, this policy has become even more critical than overall convenience and the price of the trip.
Because this policy is so crucial for workers and the decisions they make surrounding their travel, it's critical that the policy is well defined and easy to understand. This will ensure that employees are completely clear about corporate travel guidelines, reimbursement and other important factors that contribute to their plans.
"The study results show that travelers want to do the right thing," said Tobias Ragge, CEO of the hotel giant HRS. "Communicating the travel policy through the right channels at the right time and listening to your travelers' feedback is key."
2) Continual Communication
Communication isn't just important where the travel policy is concerned. It's also essential that traveling employees remain in the loop with their managers and other co-workers, even when operating outside of the office. This not only ensures that workers have the support they need during their trip, but can also contribute to higher productivity and job satisfaction.
According to research from Office Vibe, the vast majority of staff members - 65 percent - crave more feedback about their work. And because 69 percent of employees work harder when their efforts are recognized, and 78 percent noted that this recognition contributes to being more motivated on the job overall, it's important that managers don't let communication lapse during a business trip.
"Feedback and engagement becomes especially important for team members who are less visible or interact with colleagues infrequently because of remote working," Forbes contributor Kavi Guppta wrote.
3) An Easy-to-Use Expense Reporting Solution
One of the most complex factors of business travel surrounds the process of keeping track and reporting expenses. A clear travel policy providing guidelines here can help, but one of the best ways to support traveling employees in this pursuit is with a streamlined expense reporting solution.
It's important for decision-makers to seek out an expense management software that can:
Integrate with accounting and ERP systems, making it easier to sync and utilize data across these important internal platforms.
Support multiple different currencies, particularly if employees make frequent trips out of the country.
Be accessed via mobile devices, enabling employees to more easily track and report expenses on the go.
An expense management solution of this caliber can considerably streamline the approval process and reimbursement for employees, while making it easy for executives to glean the visibility they need into their company's travel costs. To find out more, contact the experts at Nexonia today.
How to Best Support Your Traveling WorkersVIEW VIDEOGallery
Thankfully, there is some reimbursement at play here — some schools with larger budgets pay educators back for their expense. In addition, the IRS also offers a tax deduction of up to $250 for educational expenses.
In order to get this reimbursement, though, teachers must track their spending. But what expenses are the most important to record?
This can be one of the largest expenses teachers have to deal with by far. While many districts with shrinking budgets are offsetting costs by adding items like tissues and wet wipes to parent school supply lists, as Time contributor Martha White noted, the costs of many supplies fall to educators. Whether teachers buy special supplies for specific lesson plans or simply to ensure that all students have the tools they need, it's important to track these expenses.
The IRS noted that unreimbursed expenses related to classroom supplies like books, computer equipment, and software are eligible for deduction. Keeping track of these transactions will make it much easier for teachers to get this reimbursement come tax time.
P.E. Teachers: Athletic Equipment
Reimbursement doesn't just come for typical classroom teachers — those in charge of physical education classes can also get reimbursement for their expenses. In this way, P.E. teachers who spend their own money on nets, balls, or other fitness equipment should keep track of their spending as well. While larger purchases may be funded or reimbursed by the district, any leftover, unreimbursed spending can be deducted on yearly tax forms.
Professional Development Programs
Many educators head back to school to further their own skills and knowledge, and as Bankrate pointed out, these expenses can be written off at tax time. Some districts will also offer financial support for teachers who expand their own education, so it's important to track expenses related to professional development programs, including any necessary travel costs.
Make Expense Tracking Easy
Whether for reimbursement from the district, for tax deductions, or simply for their own personal records, it's beneficial for teachers to keep track of the expenses they incur. TurboTax recommends keeping detailed records, and while keeping receipts in physical files is an option, a better way is with an expense reporting solution.
This technology allows educators to easily take photos and keep digital copies of receipts alongside details about their expenses. Everything is organized and easily accessible when it comes time to report to the district for reimbursement, or write things off at tax time.
Form 990 is a little different from the tax forms used by for-profit companies and non-charitable institutions. Unlike corporate IRS forms, the 990 is used by the IRS as well as other groups and interested parties - this form compiles details about the nonprofit's mission, the programs it supports, and its overall finances, and is publicly accessible.
Because Form 990 is a public-facing document, nonprofits must verify that their expenses are in order, and are categorized according to the form's specific delineations. Expenses must be separated into three different umbrellas, including program expenses, administrative expenses, and fundraising expenses.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules about how a nonprofit's budget should be spent, Form 990 helps show how the organization's donations and other capital are used. In this way, accurate bookkeeping and expense reporting is absolutely critical.
The Growing Issue of Problematic Calculations
In Focus noted that in some cases, reporting of expenses within Form 990 isn't error-free. In fact, some nonprofits' calculations simply cannot be accurate, including instances where organizations report zero fundraising costs, or report zero management and general expense costs.
This type of situation can create distrust among potential donors and financial supporters, not to mention issues with the IRS. Nonprofits expense reporting must be done in the most accurate way possible.
Calculating and Categorizing: Where Travel Fits In
A big part of supporting accuracy is correctly categorizing expenses as they relate to the three sections of IRS Form 990. Legal resource provider Nolo noted that things like teaching a class or delivering goods and services to the less fortunate would fall under program expenses. Costs including those connected with board of director meetings, insurance, human resources, or office management would be considered administrative expenses. And things like publicizing an event or supporting a funding campaign would be included in fundraising expenses.
When nonprofit employees or volunteers take part in travel as part of their organization's mission, these expenses must be carefully tracked and reported. Numerous costs can come up, including flights or other transportation, lodging, and food. These expenses should be categorized according to the activity they relate to. For instance, if travel takes place as part of delivery of goods or services, costs should be reported as part of program expenses. Travel to support a special contribution soliciting event, on the other hand, should fall under fundraising expenses.
However nonprofits leverage their travel, the important part is to verify that all expenses are properly tracked, recorded, and accounted for. Accuracy and transparency is critical, especially when it comes to the ways in which nonprofits use their financial resources. One of the best ways to support this is with an advanced expense reporting solution. Such technology can ensure that employees and volunteers have an easy way to track their travel spending, can be easily reimbursed, and can help make certain that no expense goes unreported or otherwise falls through the cracks.
Correct expense reporting is particularly critical for nonprofits, especially as it relates to IRS Form 990. A streamlined expense reporting solution can make all the difference here, providing a transparent way for administrators and staff to manage, calculate, and categorize expenses.