Religious Industry

Saward Dawson provides significant assurance and other services to the Religious Industry.

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

Harnessing our considerable knowledge and expertise, we provide advice for the major denominations. We work for 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 are 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.
  • The pressure of declining finances.
  • Management of asset-rich organisations that can be cashflow poor.
  • FBT issues include 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 KPIs.


Our Tax team works hard to help religious organisations reap the benefits of the many tax concessions. Many churches enjoy these benefits. Our team actively keeps up to date with the ever-changing taxation landscape to ensure all of our clients are compliant with key requirements with 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 Treasurer’s 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. This includes advice on 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.
  • Payroll
  • 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 has firsthand experience and involvement in the religious sector. This gives 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 the use of our expertise in the interpretation of variances, exceptions and matters requiring skill and judgment.

We also aim to provide insight into internal control systems, and the quality, and completeness of accounting records as well as the 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.

Helen Boucher - Religious Industry Specialist

If you have any questions please contact our Religious specialist Helen Boucher.

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.