February Finance Newsletter

Finance Newsletter


Thank you for being involved in your church finances.  We know it has been an interesting year as we have worked through many different challenges locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally.  May we continue our work together, helping each other with our experience, knowledge and commitment.  We have much information to share.  As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to e-mail  Treasureroffice@wisconsinumc.org or you may contact anyone in our Finance department for specific questions.  Here is a link to our home page. Finance & Administration - Wisconsin Conference of the UMC (wisconsinumc.org)
Sarah Sneider
Conference Treasurer & Director of Administration

Critical Information - 67% of churches haven’t started on their statistical reports yet.  Only 15% are completed and submitted.  The Northwest district is leading the way with 18% in.


2020 Statistical Reports Due February 28, 2021.

We need your help.  The statistical reports that are completed each year by all United Methodist Churches are technically due by the Book of Discipline on January 30.  The Wisconsin Conference extended this to February 28 to give churches more time to complete the 2020 information.  As of today, only 15% of the churches have submitted the required reports:
Table #1 - Membership and Participation
Table #2 - Church Assets and Expenses
Table #3 - Church Income
The information in these reports is vital to planning for the UMC and is used to calculate the apportionments annually.  The information that you report for 2020 will be used to calculate the 2022 apportionments.  Accuracy in submitting information means your church apportionments will be more accurately calculated.

Here’s how to get started:
If you you need a refresher course or this is your first time, watch the training video from January 13 where our conference statistician and treasurer reviewed some of the common questions and errors click here

  1. Go to the Ezra website
  2. Log in using your church’s 6-digit GCNO number.  This is printed on the top right of your monthly statement. 
  3. The password is stats2020.  If you change this password, be sure to alert any users at your church of the change.  They need to have the current password.
  4. A great first step is to print a blank form with the previous year's information.  These can be found under Reports -> Blank Church Input Form.  This gives a good overview of the expected information and what was collected last year. 
  5. Common questions:
  • What if we got a PPP loan?
    • If it has been forgiven, it goes on Table 3, line 54c
    • If it has not yet been forgiven it goes on Table 2, Line 27
  • What if we got a Technology Grant from the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation?
    • This goes on Table 3, line 54c
  • How do we track online attendance?
    • We understand this is a challenge.  Use Table 1 line 7 for the weeks you were able to meet in person.
    • Use Table 1 Line 7a for online or other type of attendance and average as best as you can. 

Your help in submitting accurate and timely statistics by February 28, 2021 is greatly appreciated.  If you have any questions, you may contact our statistician via e-mail at statistics.wisconsinumc@gmail.com or treasureroffice@wisconsinumc.org.
VANCO on line giving webinar – Wednesday, March 3 at noon
If you are interested in finding out how to set up on-line giving at your church, please attend this webinar by VANCO on Wednesday, March 3, noon to 1 pm. Please share this link with your Finance Chair, Stewardship Committee, office lead and clergy – anyone that would be involved in the decision making.   Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.  There are some changes that VANCO has made to make the on-line giving more user friendly and involve photos.  They will be showing the latest version of VANCO and discuss fees and how they can work with your church to get on line giving set up.
Are you happy with your church management and accounting software?
We get calls from churches asking about recommendations for church management and accounting software.  I’d like to find out what you are using and how you like it.  I am looking for 3-4 churches that would be willing to be on a panel zoom discussion to talk about their church software, how they use it, pros and cons and answer questions from others interested in changing their software or getting on software.  Please contact me if you are interested.


2020 and 2021 Apportionments

Thank you for your apportionment payments for 2020! We have completed recording all apportionments received and we finished the year collecting 75% of the apportioned funds.  We had budgeted for 80%, but understand the unusual year we have had.  Our expenses have been underbudget in many areas due to limited travel and ability to hold programs.  Lisa Adler has been working on getting checks and online payments split as you have identified and she will have final 2020 statements available soon.

Review of 2021 Apportionments
If you have submitted a request for a review of your apportionment calculation, I am still in the process of reviewing and responding or recalculating as necessary. If there is an adjustment needed, please complete this form and send to your district superintendent.
Local Church Audit Guidelines and deadlines
GCFA has updated the Local Church Audit Guidelines local-church-audit-guide-2020.pdf (wisconsinumc.org).  You can find this and many other helpful tools on our Finance page.  These audits are typically due April 30 each year.  We are extending this deadline to June 30.  Please let us know if you have any questions on the audit requirements.
Ministry Financial - Electronic payment of Apportionments and Special Giving
We encourage you to use online payment for your apportionments and special giving.  You can make these payments whenever you would like and for any amount that you want, or you may set up recurring payments.  Over half of our churches are now using Ministry Financials to make apportionment and special giving payments and are finding it easy to use. Click here for instructions to set up payments from your checking account.
PPP Loan forgiveness and new PPP Legislation
May of our Wisconsin churches applied for and received PPP loans in 2020.  We had encouraged you to wait to apply for forgiveness because pending legislation was potentially going to forgive loans under a certain amount.  Recent legislation was passed and our CPA firm held a webinar with the most current info.   Loans under $150,000 will have a “simplified forgiveness form” which has not yet been created by the SBA.  There is also new money available for those that meet the criteria. You can watch the webinar and/or get the power point here.

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