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Simple record keeping

Record keeping is an information system that tracks project progress and tells others what is happening

1992 Available in French, English and Spanish

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Accounts and records – Footsteps 11

How to keep good records of income, expenditure and other important information

by Alan Knott.  

Book-keeping is a tool that helps you to carry out other tasks to the best of your ability. It is an information system that can not only tell you what is going on with a particular project, but can also let others know what is happening.

Keeping simple records and book-keeping are vital to the success of any kind of work. However, often there is confusion and no-one is really sure how to go about these essential jobs. Balancing books at the end of the year becomes a nightmare, and sending records to donor agencies is often almost impossible.

By keeping proper books, the manager of a project or health centre, or the owner of a small business can discover:

  • the value of their purchases
  • the value of their sales
  • their expenses
  • the amount of cash in the office or at the bank
  • the sums of money owing to them
  • the sums owing to others
  • the value of property and items owned by the project or business
  • the profit or loss made during a particular period
  • the finances of the project or business on any given day.

Book-keeping is a discipline. In my view there is no doubt that you do need to discipline yourself to set aside time to keep the records up to date.

Failing to do this will mean a lot more time is wasted when you come to try and balance the books.  It is easy to say to yourself, ‘Oh, I will get round to sorting it out one day...’ The trouble is that, by the time you do get round to it, the accounts may already be in a mess and it will take much longer to put it right.

I also believe that biblically it is part of our responsibilities as good stewards of whatever God has given us. This is even more important if you are responsible for spending money which people have donated to the Lord’s work. Any Christian organisation has a clear responsibility to make sure that funds are used wisely and for the glory of God.  Well-kept books will certainly help in this.  

Alan Knott is a Chief Manager with one of the major clearing banks in the UK and has worked with them for 25 years. He has a personal interest in international needs. He has worked in Pakistan for two years and has visited the ACTS Institute in India (supported by Tear Fund) several times to provide training in accounting. 

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