Keeping Your Church's Electronic Giving Safe
Keeping Your Church's Electronic Giving Safe
You need internal controls to protect digital giving—here's how to implement them.

While thefts of physical offerings are tragic, usually only the cash is lost because it is so difficult for a thief to deposit checks made out to the church.

But with digital gifts, there is no challenge of converting checks to cash—it is as simple as redirecting the flow of the digital funds. This threat is now just as significant to churches as physical thefts or embezzlement, because of the increase of online giving. Church leaders tell me they are receiving 60 percent or more of their gifts digitally. Even small churches are jumping on the digital giving train. Gifts are flooding in through churches' websites and other portals, as givers use debit and credit cards, ACH (Automated Clearing House) debits to their bank accounts, electronic checks, charges to their cellular accounts, and even virtual currency, using a variety of devices, including their computers, tablets, and smart phones as well as church giving kiosks.

Proactive churches allow givers to access giving records online through a secure system and mail quarterly giving statements. These extra "eyes" on the data help ensure that gifts are properly posted to giving records.

While the threat of electronic theft is just as real as physical theft, the consequences can be even greater. A digital breach creates a double whammy, robbing the donor's gift, and leaving them less likely to make future digital gifts because they're reluctant to continue providing confidential credit card and bank account information to the church.

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