March 29, 2012
How to deal with the fear of mismanaged funds in churches.
Fraud prevention in churches isn’t an easy subject to bring up. The topic naturally creates tension, pushing up emotion levels with staff, lay leaders, and volunteers. And for good reason: One significant prevention tactic requires two people—not one—to handle the money collected at services. So, tactfully explaining to a sole financial worker or volunteer why more people are needed can be awkward. And in some cases, finding available staff or volunteers, and matching schedules to handle financial duties, may not be easy, further complicating the process and creating frustrations all around.
This topic struck a chord last summer when Vonna Laue, one of our Editorial Advisors, listed the top three reasons fraud happens in church. Many readers responded in the comment section. One church secretary described the weight of being the only person working on the church’s finances and her hopes that her pastor would someday agree to put more safeguards in place. Another church staff member took measures into her own hands to protect herself: “I insist on a minimum segregation of duties. I write checks but don't sign and I have a volunteer who does the bank reconciliation. I'm regularly surprised by folks who say, ‘Don't they trust you?’" Others described how safeguards help prevent false accusations.