As long as there are offerings during a church service there will be cash on hand. And how this cash is handled can determine the safety of those funds – meaning a church cash handling policy is important.
Detailed cash handling policies and procedures are critical to safeguarding church funds.
And yes, churches are just as susceptible to embezzlement as any other organization.
The reason is – unsupervised access to cash is simply too tempting for many people, particularly people with a financial need.
And yes, Christians steal and they steal from churches.
It is the responsibility of church leadership to ensure that cash donations and cash assets are safeguarded and accounted for.
The study of fraud and embezzlement has shown that people with an incentive (a need), rationalization (I deserve this) and the right opportunity (easy access) are candidates for embezzling funds.
Cash handling procedures can help to protect the organization, the employee and prevent fraud.
Every church is different, and each has very specific needs when it comes to handling cash.
Some churches only handle cash when counting weekly offerings, but other churches handle cash at church events, lobby coffee shop or church bookstore.
The basic expectation should be that cash is never handled by only one person.
Two-person cash handling policies ensure safe handling and eliminate the temptation to steal – even if only a few dollars.
Take the time to develop cash handling procedures, and to train volunteers and employees on the importance of following the outlined steps.
The following are some general guidelines and things to think about that can help you develop a cash handling policy specific to your church.
Example Cash Handling Policy
These are very simplistic guidelines and should be expanded and adapted to your particular church.
If you are an SCM member, you can access an editable copy of this policy by signing into your account here.
If you are not a member but would like to access an editable copy of this document you can learn more here.
Other things to think about:
- Where is the safe located?
- Is the safe out of public sight?
- Who has keys to the room the safe is in?
- The person who has keys to the room should not be the same person who has the combination to the safe.
- Background checks should always be done on employees and volunteers who handle cash. Some organizations do credit checks to find out if there are financial issues with employees.
- Safe combinations should be changed whenever a person holding the combination leaves employment.
- There should be a drop slot in the safe to allow for one way access to the safe eliminating the need to unlock the safe every time a cash bag is deposited in the safe.
- There should be a camera monitoring all safes and cash registers, particularly those that are isolated and out of a manager’s sight.
Organizations lose billions of dollars each year from embezzlement and churches are not exempt.
Safeguarding against church embezzlement is a leadership responsibility that should not be taken lightly.
Good policies, procedures, and oversight of cash handling is one way to safeguard against theft of church cash.
If you want to learn more about preventing fraud, there is a great book, Preventing and Detecting Employee Theft and Embezzlement available on Amazon.
What does your church do to prevent embezzlement of church funds?