In the business world, embezzlement is the most common financial crime. Unfortunately, it’s also a frequent crime against churches and nonprofit ministries. Unlike other crimes, embezzlement is perpetrated by a trusted person from within. Though most leaders can’t imagine one of their own committing such an act, these types of crimes are common—and costly—enough to warrant the following preventive measures.
Put It in Writing
Watch Over Your Offerings
Tithes and offerings represent the greatest internal threat of loss. And because significant portions of offerings are made in cash and are usually collected and counted by volunteers, the misuse or misappropriation of cash offerings is one of the easier crimes to commit.
To protect your church’s offerings, follow these steps:
l Always have at least two people present when counting the offering. Use longtime church members who’ve established a reputation of being trustworthy. Develop a list of such people, and periodically rotate those on the list when offerings are counted. Also, avoid counting the offering behind closed doors.
Taking steps to prevent internal crime is just as important as guarding against outside threats. Following these guidelines will help you reduce the chance of being victimized from within and help you avoid the high physical, emotional and monetary costs it can bring.
Matthew G. Hirschy, CPA, is the vice president of finance for Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. For free resources, visit brotherhoodmutual.com.
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