Part 3 of our ongoing Fraud in the Church series. PSK in cooperation with the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA) conducted a survey to determine the extent to which churches are attempting to address the problem of church fraud. We asked them to respond to this statement:
Our church has established a formal program for reporting fraudulent activities.
In its 2010 Report to the Nations, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners revealed that 40% of fraud cases were initially detected by anonymous tips. Half of the tips came from employees. Approximately two-thirds of these cases were communicated through the entity’s fraud hotline. This data is not inconsistent with prior years’ findings. In fact, during one year a whopping 60% of detected fraud was discovered by the combination of tips and/or by accident! In our survey, we learned that 59% of the churches responded reported having no mechanism for employees, members, and vendors to report suspected improper behavior.
The use of anonymous hotlines, usually found on an entity’s website, has been quite successful in the corporate and government environments. However, this is a tough sell in the church environment as it seems distasteful to most people involved in church. And that includes me…
I have been (and remain) reluctant to recommend to my church clients taking such a step.
However, one solution I have seen, that may be a good middle-ground is to outsource this function. There are third parties who provide this service by making available a toll-free phone line and a web address. Because confidentiality is crucial, all reports go directly to the third party and bypass any nosy people along the way. As part of the church’s whistleblowers policy (which I hope your church has) a description of the third party providing these services and the processes to be followed should be included in the church personnel manual.
What do you think about this idea?