Saward Dawson > Religious Industry

Religious Industry

Saward Dawson provides significant assurance and other services to the religious sector.

The Religious Sector includes many organisations that are focused on advancing religion, including small local churches, larger churches, local and international mission organisations as well as state denomination organisations.

Harnessing our considerable knowledge and expertise, we provide advice for the major denominations, some of Australia’s largest churches and many other churches and affiliated organisations.

We are aware of the many challenges that this sector faces including:

  • GST concessions and applications to current scenarios,
  • Internal controls sufficient to control risk, no matter the size of the organisation focusing on cash and electronic banking,
  • Clarity over accounting issues and policies,
  • Known frauds in the industry,
  • Pressure of declining finances,
  • Management of asset rich organisations that can be cashflow poor,
  • FBT issues including the set up, maintenance and constant review of policies and procedures surrounding fringe benefits provided to ministers of religions, and
  • Management financial statements that are not always meaningful and lack of KPI’s.


Our Tax team work tirelessly to help religious organisations reap the benefits of the many tax concessions that churches are able to enjoy. By actively keeping up to date with the ever changing taxation landscape, they ensure all of our clients are compliant with key requirements on a high standard of reporting accountability.

We have also prepared a GST Guide for Church Treasurers outlining basic GST principles and how they apply to churches. This invaluable resource is constantly monitored and updated to ensure Church Treasurers are provided with clear, accurate and understandable guidance. In addition to the GST Guide, we have produced a Treasurers Guide for churches charities and not-for-profit organisations. This guide contains information and easy to apply advice on a large number of essential areas.

Remuneration Services:

The remuneration Services Team actively provides advice and services to many organisations, to ensure that they are providing the most effective remuneration packages to all staff, including ministers of religion, administration staff and staff that are employed by public benevolent institutions. Remuneration is one of the most significant costs paid by churches so it is important to ensure that the risks associated with this  are minimised and managed.

Business Advisory:

We assist many clients with business advisory services, including the following specific services that can assist churches:

  • Bookkeeper services,
  • Preparation and review of activity statements,
  • Preparation of reconciliations, in preparation for audit,
  • GST and other tax advice, and
  • Board reporting.


We are engaged to undertake the external audit of a significant number of religious organisations, ranging in size and structure. Our passionate team, have firsthand experience and involvement in the religious sector, giving us significant insight into the challenges faced by religious organisations and churches. We are also proud to maintain working relationships with both management and governance bodies. This helps to ensure that maximum value is provided whilst maintaining strict independence.

We conduct all of our audits in compliance with the Australian Auditing Standards to ensure we provide you with high quality, independent, audit opinions. Our audits are undertaken electronically, embracing advanced data interrogation techniques that enable use of our expertise in the interpretation of variances, exceptions and matters requiring skill and judgement.

We also aim to provide insight into internal control systems, quality and completeness of accounting records, adequacy of accounting policies and compliance with applicable legislation. Our considerable experience in the audit of religious organisations enables us to understand the key drivers of financial performance, and our benchmarking allows us to identify areas of key risk.

We would be pleased to speak to you to discuss your organisation and its needs.

Did you know we have a Church Finance Handbook?

We know that running the finances and administration of a church can be demanding. The Church Finance Handbook is an invaluable resource for all church treasurers.

Did you know you can receive consistent updates regarding church requirements straight to your inbox?


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