How do I decide which categories to set up?
This article covers how to decide which categories to set up if you are unsure. If you are simply wanting to know how to set up a fund and to copy categories between funds, this separate help guide article covers this.
Setting up Funds
Before setting up categories, it's best to set up your funds. If you are unsure about what a fund is or would like a quick reminder, then take a look at this blog article which covers the basics.
Funds (along with fund balances) carry over between financial years, so the closing balances of your funds in one financial year will be your opening balances of the same funds at the start of your next financial year.
Therefore, if you are unsure what funds to set up and what the opening balances of these should be, the best place to look is at your prior year's accounts (even if they are still in draft format).
If your accounts have been created correctly, then the different unrestricted, designated and restricted funds for your church or charity should be shown in the notes of the accounts, along with a closing fund balance for each.
When setting up your opening funds and balances in ExpensePlus you are best to work from your actual accounts (rather than your accounting software) as it's ultimately the balance stated in your signed-off accounts that matter. If your accounts are still in draft format, this isn't an issue. You can return to the fund opening balances screen and update your opening fund balances once your prior year accounts are finalised.
Setting up Categories
Unlike other accounting packages, ExpensePlus has a unique feature that enables you to set up your category structure however you wish to, whilst still being able to generate SOFA reports, CofE Parish Return Reports, and Elim Returns. You have the freedom to choose how to wish to structure and name categories and can still fulfil these reporting requirements (where relevant for your organisation).
For many churches and charities, switching to ExpensePlus provides a brilliant opportunity to think about the categories and category structure that you would actually find useful to see in your income and expenditure reports each month (rather than being constrained as you may have been in your previous software).
Categories are NOT required to be in a particular structure, and if you look at the category structure of any two churches or charities these won't ever be the same. Your categories should be whatever is going to be useful and appropriate for your church or charity.
Category Structure - Top Tips
(1) What is useful - keep in mind what information would be helpful to see on your monthly income and expenditure by fund report. How you structure your categories will be how they show within your reports.
(2) Keep it simple - having lots of categories is likely to result in less of your team reading your financial reports rather than it adding any benefit.
(3) User access - ExpensePlus is unique in that you can give each user their own customised access which will allow them to see only the data they need and drill down to view transaction details where you allow this.
What about my SOFA Report?
As part of setting up a category, you select a 'category type'. When a transaction is assigned to a category, the category type then automatically determines the classification it will appear against on the SOFA report. For more information about category types click here.
What about my CofE Parish Return Reports / Elim Return?
Once your categories are set up, within the category settings screen, click the 'CofE' / 'Elim' tab at the top of that screen. Within this view, you then just need to assign a CofE / Elim category type to each category.
This is what is used to generate your CofE annual return report / Elim Report. When a transaction is assigned to a category, the CofE / Elim category type then automatically determines the classification it will appear against on your CofE annual return report / Elim Report.
Click the relevant link below to find out more:
Duplicating Categories between Funds
Once you have decided the category structure for your main General fund and assigned any additional CofE or Elim classifications, you should duplicate this category structure into your other funds. You can do this at a click of a button - this separate help guide article has more details.