Does your church have a cash handling policy?
If you know Bellwether, you know we are passionate about preventing church fraud and embezzlement. One of the easiest ways for churches to fall prey to fraud is by failing to have a cash handling policy that is followed closely by church staff and volunteers.
Some churches handle very little cash. They may have a smaller congregation and very few cash tithes. Other churches may be handling cash in large quantities in their Sunday morning tithe as well as cash at church events, at the church café, at the bookstore, with their Mother’s Day Out program, etc.
The most basic and perhaps obvious way to safeguard cash is to always have two cash handlers. When counting Sunday tithes, there should be two if not three people present who sign off on the count sheet. Two or more people should be manning the café and the bookstore registers, etc. And when it comes time to move the money to the safe both people should take the money together. This is the most efficient way to reduce the temptation that people may have to steal some of the money.
Some other basic guidelines when considering your church cash handling policy:
- All cash should be stored in a safe. This includes petty cash and cash register drawers as well.
- Anyone in the church who is going to be handling cash should have a background check on file. This should be re-run every 2 years.
- Sunday tithe counters should be rotated regularly. The counting team should also be rotated regularly as leaving the same two people together month after month leaves room for collusion as well.
- Two people should be present when taking cash from the church to the bank.
- Cash count sheets should be detailed, signed by the counters, and kept on record.
- Ideally, the person who has the combination to the safe should be different from the person who has a key to the door where the safe is kept.
- When cash is handed off for transport, the persons transporting the cash should count the monies and confirm it is the same as the count sheet before accepting the cash.
- All bank deposits should match with a cash count sheet. If there is a discrepancy, the church needs to investigate. One small discrepancy may be a counting error. Regular discrepancies especially of greater amounts should raise red flags.
Having cash handling procedures in place are only helpful if the church staff and volunteers actually follow them. Who is in charge of training new staff and volunteers on the procedures? Who is responsible for overseeing the execution of these procedures? It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure these procedures are followed. However, there needs to be someone where the buck stops.
We hope these ideas are helpful as your church considers creating or enhancing its cash handling policy and procedures.