Part 5 of our series on Segregation of Duties. In our recent Fraud Survey, we asked churches to respond to these statements:
“Our church has a formal policy describing the characteristics required for participation on the count team, including limiting related individuals and restricting the same individual from participating in more than one component of the process.”
“Church volunteers are required to “rotate off” their assignments periodically.”
Survey results – 70% of our respondents reported using some type of screening process for determining teller team members. Unfortunately, only 25% reported that they required all team members to periodically rotate off the count team on a systematic basis. My guess of why this number is so low is that, from my observations, many people serving on count teams consider the service they provide a ministry. It is very difficult for many churches to limit anyone’s ministry.
If a church does screen its volunteers (as 70% appear to do) why is teller team rotation important to fraud prevention? This question can be answered with one word – COLLUSION. Even the strongest internal control systems can be penetrated when two or more people collude (conspire) to commit economic fraud.
The longer people serve together in any role, the more comfortable with each other they become. Over time, they may become tempted. It is much easier to broach the subject of committing fraud with a close acquaintance, than a stranger.
KEY: Being a relative or long-time friend with a fellow volunteer makes collusion a little bit easier.