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Safeguarding your holiday church funds

Safeguarding your holiday church funds

Proper handling of money given to local churches is a critical responsibility. Since money is more often given in the form of cash or checks, it is subject to theft or misappropriation. During the holiday season contributions often increase and this is a great time to review your organization's policies.

The existence of large amounts of cash may tempt persons facing fnancial difïculties to "borrow" some of this money. Embezzlement or theft of local church funds can create a crisis of confidence in the ability of the local church to ensure that funds donated to and through it are used for the purposes intended.

Most of the "rules" for avoiding mishandling of local church funds are based on common sense.
  • Two unrelated people should always handle the collected offering. Their relationship should be devoid of any potential conflicts of interest or incentives for collusion.
  • Staff and volunteers handling church funds should be bonded. Churches can purchase a blanket indemnity bond, similar to the one GCFA maintained for annual conference treasurers and certain other conference officers. Such bonds are standard in the United Methodist Insurance program.
  • Receipt and disbursement functions should be handled separately and assigned to different individuals.
  • Church funds should not be taken to anyone's private home. Checks should be stamped "For Deposit Only" before they leave the church. Funds should be counted, verified and placed in secured bags for bank deposit, or placed in the church safe for deposit as soon as possible.
  • Financial statements should be audited on an annual basis and detailed monthly reports should be kept and reviewed. At least three unrelated individuals should be responsible for the separate functions of check writing, monthly bank statement reconciliation and the yearly audit.
These guidelines can be utilized for developing detailed instructions for those persons assigned the responsibility of collecting, counting, and depositing the local church offering and for disbursing local church funds.
Comparison of Procedures
Churches may wish to compare their guidelines for handling church collections with a few standard procedures.
Careful and competent handling of church funds is critical in maintaining confidence among church members that their donations will be used as intended for the ministries of their congregation. The establishment of appropriate safeguards and procedures for handling church funds will assist persons responsible for those funds and also protect the work of the local church in general. 


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