As hard as it may be to believe, churches are not immune from embezzlement. In fact, the widespread belief among church leaders that such a crime "could never happen in a church" makes churches an easy target. Economic downturns make the risk even greater. Here are seven reasons to prevent fraud from happening at your church:
- Removing temptation. Churches that take steps to prevent embezzlement remove a source of possible temptation for church employees and volunteers who work with money.
- Protecting reputations. By taking steps to prevent embezzlement, a church protects the reputation of innocent employees and volunteers who otherwise might be suspected of financial wrongdoing when financial irregularities occur.
- Avoiding confrontations. By taking steps to prevent embezzlement, a church avoids the unpleasant task of confronting individuals who are suspected of embezzlement.
- Avoiding church division. By taking steps to prevent embezzlement, a church avoids the risk of congregational division that often is associated with cases of embezzlement–with some members wanting to show mercy to the offender and others demanding justice.
- Avoiding the need to inform donors. By taking steps to prevent embezzlement, a church reduces the risk of having to tell donors that some of their contributions have been misappropriated.
- Protecting the reputation of church leaders. By taking steps to prevent embezzlement, a church reduces the damage to the reputation and stature of its leaders who otherwise may be blamed for allowing embezzlement to occur.
- Preserving accountability. Churches that take steps to prevent embezzlement help to create a "culture of accountability" with regard to church funds.
Resource. For a full analysis of the subject of embezzlement of church funds, see chapter 7 (volume 2) in Richard Hammar's four-volume set,Pastor, Church & Law (4th ed. 2009). To order, call 1-800-222-1840 or visit ChurchLawToday.com.
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