Churches are prime targets for embezzlement. This is partly because churches are some of the most trusting organizations, a quality often abused by paid staff and volunteers.
Embezzlement not only robs a church of money; it also damages its reputation, calling the ministry's integrity into question by the public. A church's own congregation might even disagree on the response to embezzlement—grace versus punishment. This is why one of the biggest challenges of embezzlement in a church setting is determining how to respond when theft is discovered. Here are six steps that may help you navigate the disturbing discovery that your church has been embezzled:
1. Identify the amount of the loss. The church's first priority is to deal with the embezzled funds and to understand the details of the loss. Ask questions like: Was only one person involved? What's the time frame for fraud—did it occur long ago, or is it still going on? Is the embezzlement limited to a petty cash fund? Do we have a way to determine how much has been embezzled?