It’s natural that as a church organisation you would want to have a policy of trust, but the fact is that church theft can and does occur, and it sometimes happens from the inside. When it comes to the handling of cash donations and offerings, security is essential to reduce temptation and the risk of theft or fraud, and also to lower the risk of error by providing an audit trail of activities.
Develop and document procedures
It’s important to have documented procedures when it comes to the collection, counting, recording and banking of cash. While it is up to each church to develop its own procedures for cash handling, guidelines include:
- Implement the segregation of duties by having separate people do the counting, recording and banking of cash received.
- Counting of cash should not be done by one person alone – for security purposes at least two people should be present. To avoid the risk of collusion, counters should not be a married couple or two members of the same family.
- All cash, cheques and credit card payments received should be clearly recorded on signed documents.
- Cash is often counted on a Sunday when the banks are closed – for security the cash should be stored in a locked safe prior to its being banked. If the church does not have a safe then it is acceptable for the proceeds to be taken home by one of the counters, and banked as soon as practicable.
- Banking should preferably be done by someone who was not involved in the counting process.
- Accounting audits should be done annually by an external auditor.
Reduce the need for cash
To reduce the risks even further – if possible encourage your congregation to use internet banking or EFT to minimise the need for cash handling; this also helps to reduce the need for congregants to carry cash with them when attending services or when making donations to the church.
By practising good security and sound procedures in this way around cash handling, you help not only to reduce the risk of theft but also the need for contacting the police, lodging insurance claims or spending time searching for missing money. You also help to keep your church running more smoothly and efficiently, enabling it to focus on higher goals!
More posts on financial risk management for churches can be found here.
Written by Tess OliverTags: finances, security