Negative Missionary Balances

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
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johnshaw
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Negative Missionary Balances

Postby johnshaw » Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:55 am

I am trying to work out an issue with our Stake President around the handling of individual Ward Missionary accounts that go negative, or are significantly negative ($1000 or more).

We have been instructed to keep a 3 month reserve in the Top-level Ward Missionary account for each missionary serving from the ward, which provides an overall positive balance even when individual accounts go negative (at least for 3 months).

What are other wards and stakes doing in these situations?
  • Continue to host the value of the individual account as negative working with the family, as long as the overall missionary account is positive we're ok?
  • Transfer the money into the account to 'cover' it and manage working with the family other ways?
  • What do you do when the overall balance is negative?
  • How long do we hold this over the heads of a family that just isn't in a position to pay?

The list or information I'm gathering is not intended to be given to Bishops in exclusion of their primary role as stewards over the finances or the family. This is meant as a list of talking points, or points for a Bishop to ponder, or consider as he makes these decisions. This information will be processed by a Stake Presidency before it is added to an upcoming Bishopric training.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Gary_Miller
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Re: Negative Missionary Balances

Postby Gary_Miller » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:23 am

Since I don't always know the agreement the bishop has with the families I just make the transfer each month from the Ward Mission parent account to the individual accounts to make sure the no account ever goes negative.

When the missionary returns I what two months to make sure there will be no surprises and transfer any positive amount from the individual account back into the Ward Mission parent account.

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aebrown
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Re: Negative Missionary Balances

Postby aebrown » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:30 am

JohnShaw wrote:We have been instructed to keep a 3 month reserve in the Top-level Ward Missionary account for each missionary serving from the ward, which provides an overall positive balance even when individual accounts go negative (at least for 3 months).

I'm curious who gave you that instruction. That could very well be contrary to the very specific instruction we have received from our area presidency, which is that our overall balance is to be no more than 3 months worth of payments for each missionary (plus additional prepaid amounts for particular missionaries).

If each missionary subcategory had 3 months reserve, and the top-level Ward Missionary account also had a 3 months reserve for each missionary on top of that, your balance would be twice the allowable limit according to our area's policy.

However, I would note that the RKATS article Missionary Finances says nothing about this particular policy. In our area, we get a reminder letter when our overall stake surplus exceeds that 3-month guideline, but this wouldn't necessarily apply to all areas.

JohnShaw wrote:Continue to host the value of the individual account as negative working with the family, as long as the overall missionary account is positive we're ok?

Yes, we do that.

JohnShaw wrote:Transfer the money into the account to 'cover' it and manage working with the family other ways?

We don't do that just to fix a negative balance. There's no harm at all in a negative subcategory balance, and transfers make the actual balance confusing.

JohnShaw wrote:How long do we hold this over the heads of a family that just isn't in a position to pay?

The bishop discusses the issue with this family. If the family plans to follow through on their previous commitment for donations, then keeping the accounting in place facilitates tracking the actual status of that subcategory. But if the family isn't in a position to make those payments, responsibility is shifted to the ward, and appropriate transfers to the subcategory from the top-level Ward Missionary fund are made. There's no compulsion or "holding over the heads" -- it's just a question of whether the family is willing and able to make the payments.

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johnshaw
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Re: Negative Missionary Balances

Postby johnshaw » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:40 am

Our area presidency sends reminder letters and instructions the same as you've indicated. I'm not sure how my message indicated that we keep both a 3 month supply for individual accounts AND a 3 month supply in the top-level Ward Missionary account, but we only keep a 3 month balance for each individual missionary, not 6 months.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”

― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

aktusau
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Re: Negative Missionary Balances

Postby aktusau » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:13 am

I have this situation for missionaries who have long since returned and still show a negative balance. Do I need to transfer money from the top level account to balance these missionaries? I feel sheepish asking, but am I supposed to transfer money into the individual accounts of missionaries who are short each month?

jdlessley
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Re: Negative Missionary Balances

Postby jdlessley » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:28 am

aktusau wrote:I have this situation for missionaries who have long since returned and still show a negative balance. Do I need to transfer money from the top level account to balance these missionaries?

The family may or may not be aware there is a deficit. I would counsel with the bishop about each missionary account situation and the excess funds available to cover deficits, if any. He will let you know how to proceed in reconciling the deficit(s). If the family is short on contributions and the bishop expects the family to complete their obligation then I would leave the account as is for proper accounting. Of course the family or individuals responsible for meeting the obligation will need to be contacted to resolve the deficit(s). This can be a sensitive matter. Be sure to counsel with the bishop before contacting the family or individuals. He may want to talk to them first.

The bishop knows the financial status and ability of each family to meet their obligation. Once he has been appraised of the situation(s) you should know how to proceed. Excess funds can be transferred from the Ward Missionary Fund to the individual missionary category to reconcile it, if that is how the bishop wants to handle it. The bishop may need to counsel with the stake president to see if the stake has funds available to cover the deficit(s) if the ward is unable to cover the deficit(s).

aktusau wrote:I feel sheepish asking, but am I supposed to transfer money into the individual accounts of missionaries who are short each month?

That really depends. But generally no. Deficits in individual missionary accounts really means contributions are behind what they should be. It may be necessary to counsel with the families or individuals who agreed to make the contributions and get them back on schedule.

Equalized payments are withdrawn from the accounts in the first week of the month. Those making agreed contributions should be aware of this and have their contributions in on time for these withdrawals. However, due to circumstances and agreed contribution payment schedules, the contributions may be later in the month and thus resulting in a deficit for the account for a week or a few weeks. These situations should not be the norm but rather the exception and approved by the bishop.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

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wrigjef
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Re: Negative Missionary Balances

Postby wrigjef » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:38 pm

The process in our stake was that first, all ward clerks were trained to not adjust individual accounts, this allowed for tracking. When a missionary returned, if the individual account was in deficit and it was understood, through the bishop, that the family was no longer going to be contributing, then funds were transferred from the top level account to balance it out. On a regular basis, bishops were instructed to keep only enough excess in the top level missionary account to cover what the bishop anticipated using in the fiscal year. Excess was written as a check to the stake. At the stake level we monitored when a ward was overdrawn in missionary, when it was the first course of action was to have the ward counsel delinquent members, next at the discretion of the bishop, the ward membership was encouraged to contribute to ward missionary (this happened often when there was a missionary from the ward with little or no family support). Finally if the ward could not support the need the stake president authorized some of the consecrated missionary funds that had been turned into the stake, to be issued to a ward ( not a specific missionary). If the stake ever ended up with a large balance that was not needed, we wrote a check to the general missionary fund. I once heard a GA say that if every ward were diligently returning unused missionary funds to Salt Lake, the church cold easily drop the monthly cost per missionary below the current $400


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