Safely Depositing Weekly Collections
One church nearly loses $7,000 in offerings.

A church in Centralia, Washington, lost nearly $7,000 from its weekly collections recently when a staff member accidentally left the bag containing the collected funds on top of her car and headed to the bank.

Fortunately, a man driving in this small community located about an hour south of Tacoma spotted the bag and picked it up. The man told KomoNews.com, which reported on the incident, he contacted the church and returned the funds because an honest mother and son returned his lost wallet some 40 years earlier.

"I could have done a lot with it, but I couldn't bring myself to do that," he told the outlet.

Until electronic giving and mobile giving options become the dominant methods for transactions among members and visitors, churches of all sizes will handle varying amounts of cash and checks every week. Although the risk is small, the opportunity exists for these offerings to get lost or stolen. If a weekly trip to the bank is necessary, make certain to have two people (preferably unrelated) go together during daytime business hours (in 2009, a couple was robbed while making a night deposit on behalf of a South Carolina church).

Churches also should look into remote-deposit capture technology offered by many financial institutions. A device provided by a bank will scan checks and send the information electronically; churches usually pay for the scanner and a monthly service fee based on volume.

For more help on this topic, check out Safe Ways to Handle Your Church's Money from ChurchSafety.com.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations

Comments

Displaying 1–9 of 9 comments

JWM

December 01, 2011  10:16am

We have two services with about 250 in total attendance. We use the team of ushers assigned that day to count the cash after the collections for each service. They record these amounts on a document. We then have a number of input teams that record the donations into the church software. These teams are often made up of husband and wife. The input team for the first service completes their mission after the first service and the input team for the second service completes their mission after the second service. All totals and reconciliations are completed through the church software by the second service team and reports are printed and issues to the Pastor, Treasure, and church staff. The final report for the deposited cash should agree with the count by the usher counting teams or the difference needs to be documented and stated on the counters' document. The second service input team endorsees the checks, completes the bank deposit, and takes the funds to the bank that Sunday afternoon after leaving the church. Often this team is the last to leave the church, that is the reason we often use husband and wife teams in the input process.

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Margaret Dunlap

November 30, 2011  5:11pm

Out church follows the procedures as Posted by Matt Branaugh. Because we had the cash stolen on a Sunday night; all cash is now deposited on Sundays, after two people - unrelated - count the cash and checks. Once the cash and checks are accounted for and logged onto the report, the cash only is deposited into the banks night drop box. The two main banks in our town will not turn over the contents of the bag once it is logged into their bank logs. Because of the that the checks stay behind so they can be keyed into the system on Monday. Cash is keyed in also, but the actual posting to General Ledger does not happen until the cash deposit balances with the bank.

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Karen

November 30, 2011  10:37am

We kept our deposits in a safe in the church overnight on Sundays until our church was robbed. They totally demolished the safe and got everything inside. Thank the Lord they weren't smart enough to do it on a Sunday night! We take the deposit to the bank overnight depository now (along with a process much like everyone else)

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Christina

November 28, 2011  10:50am

We have a safe in a locked room. Two ushers take the offering to the safe where they seal it in a pre-numbered tamper-evident plastic bank deposit bag. They write the bag number in a log and both ushers sign it. The following morning the offering is removed for the 2-person count team to process. The bag number is checked against the ushers' log and the bag itself is checked for evidence of tampering. After counting, the offering is sealed in a new deposit bag and delivered to the bank by both counters. The count results are signed by both counters and given to the accounting office along with a photocopy of all the checks. A second copy of the count totals are given to the office administrator for publishing in the bullein.

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Richard Vickers

November 28, 2011  1:45am

We use the night deposit contol as described by Lowell Miller above. In addition, we have 4 2 member counting teams who rotate with the 4 Sundays per month. One counts and calls back info to the data entry person. Various accounting schedules are printed and saved in excel. This includes one schedule or journal entry with the deposited amounts to the various funds to be recorded by the church Treasurer. The counter takes the clear plastic pounce to the bank night deposit on Sunday afternoon. The only breakdown is with cash funds between the narthehex and the church office.

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Lowell Miller

November 25, 2011  1:35pm

The offering is left on the communion table until service is over. The assigned stewardship committee members then take the the offering, enter all the gifts into Membership Plus for tax accounting. 4 report is printed. One given to treasurer for entry into Quick Books into proper funds, One is give to person who publishes weekly given amounts into bulletin, One is placed with the opened empty envelopes and worksheet that accounts for loose money and loose checks not in envelopes. One is placed with the offering in a special deposit plastic see through container (one time use which we buy through the bank). Checks in one compartment, currency in another. The container already has our banking info on it. The deposit person drops the container through the night deposit box at the bank. At his convenience, he stops by the bank and finalizes the deposit. The container can not be opened without destroying it's integrity.

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Karr

November 25, 2011  12:06pm

We actually take the bags to the bank under dual control immediately after collections twice on Sunday morning. The bags are placed in the night depository, and our counters meet at the bank on Monday morning. Conveniently, the church and the bank location are less than a mile apart. Even at that, it requires some small sacrifices on the part of those carrying out those duties, but they are spread around, and it is simply viewed as a necessary part of our controls process.

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Lydia

November 25, 2011  11:48am

We have a locked safe on church premises secured to the top of a cabinet in a locked room. Offering contents are placed in the safe on Sunday following worship. Counters come in Monday morning to record offerings and make the deposit.

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Stephen

November 25, 2011  10:45am

It is just not realistic for 2 unrelated people to take a deposit to a bank during business hours - is there anyone reading this that does that? Please comment if you do. Collections are usually made on Sunday - when banks are closed, or at an evening service, again when banks are closed - so is it expected these two unrelated people would accompany the deposit to someone's house and both sleep there overnight until daytime business hours and go together? If not, it is again irrelevant in that one person would be taking the deposit home alone. We have at least two unrelated people count the money and verify the balance - give a copy of the deposit sheet, signed by both, to our administrator, then one of them drives the deposit to the bank and uses the after hours deposit box after church. Does anyone have a better way?

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