As the director of operations for a young (4 years old today) mid-sized church, one of my goals in 2011 was to position our church’s financial structure and systems in such a way that we could successfully conduct our first internal financial audit in 2012. The goal behind the goal is to be in a position to apply for ECFA membership.

Now that 2011 is over, I’m taking the steps to put together our audit team. While doing this, I found several audit guides that were helpful. For your benefit, I’ve included them here with some highlights of what I liked about them. At the end of the day, if you’re serious about performing an internal audit, you should go ahead and just read through all of them and make sure that you and your audit team are ready to do the best job possible.

ECFA Annual Audit Checklist
While this isn’t a full out audit guide, this is the best guide to start with. It is a short checklist of items that you should have in place. If these items aren’t in place, don’t even bother trying to do a full out audit. Read through the checklist, note what you currently do or have in place, then immediately work on fixing anything that is missing. After that, you should be ready for the more robust guides.

Local Church Audit Guide For Western NY Presbytery Congregations PCUSA
I love that this audit guide starts out by walking you through the terminology. In a question and answer format, you’re walked through everything form “What is an audit?” to “How do restricted assets differ from designated assets?”. However, I found that the Q&A format falls apart a little at the end as it gets confusing as to the actual steps and items people need to report and how to report them. However, there are forms to help track the audit process, as well as instructions to the forms. The addendum help everything make more sense. Also, as noted in the onset of this document, it is almost entirely take from the UMC Local Church Audit Guide.

Presbytery of the James PCUSA Internal Audit Guide
Like the above audit guide, this one borrows some content from the UMC Local Church Audit Guide. The main difference in this guide from the others is that almost no time is spent explaining anything. It does however have a very well organized checklist for your audit team to follow, as well as helpful instructions for work through each section.

UCC Connecticut Conference Audit Program for Internal Auditors
Ok, I saved the best for last. This is, in my opinion, the best actual “guide” for an internal church audit. The format is very easy to follow and walks the auditors thorough all the information they need to gather, and then asks them a lot of yes/no questions to actually perform the audit. While the other church audit guides were helpful, this (or a slightly modified version) is most likely the one we’ll be using.

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