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Simple Tips for Securing Your Church Finances

Learn how to prevent and respond to financial crimes.

No church leader wants to believe that trusted ministry personnel would take advantage of the church. The truth is that it happens, but you can be proactive in taking steps to prevent embezzlement and other financial crimes. By following a few simple tips, you can reduce both the temptation and the likelihood of a financial crime occurring.

Prevention

Protect your offerings. Offerings should be immediately counted in a secure room with two or more individuals present. If that is not possible, secure the funds so that no individual has private access to the offerings.

Conduct an annual audit. A regular audit by a CPA firm will point our weaknesses or holes in your church finance security practices. It can also serve as a deterrent to anyone contemplating a financial crime.

Cash, check, or charge. Remember that all funds are vulnerable to theft. While crimes involving cash present accountability challenges, checks and charge information are often targeted for crimes.

Protect your staff. Don't put trusted staff in the position of being solely accountable for funds. Separate the functions of record keeping and cash handling. This will limit temptation and reduce the risk for unfounded accusations.

Response

Confront the suspect. If you have clear evidence that an individual has embezzled funds, confront them in a private setting with at least two church leaders present. Carefully determine what action to take next.

Consider the consequences. Next steps include conducting a CPA audit, reporting the crime to the police and the IRS, requiring restitution, and removing the suspect from access to church funds.

Proceed with caution. Avoid making an accusation without a thorough investigation. If an embezzler is dismissed, proceed carefully in discussing the situation with your congregation.

This article was created by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold 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." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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Posted:
  • February 6, 2009

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