“We have rotating count teams with clear rules that account for every penny we collect in offerings…”
While this statement is not inaccurate, it is short-sighted. When churches think of fraud, Sunday offering protection is usually the first thing that comes to mind. And as a result, most churches do a very good job in protecting Sunday receipts. In fact, Fort Knox may be an easier target than some churches I have visited who have ratcheted down tightly their Sunday collection procedures!
But, if this is all a church does in protecting itself from fraud, they are at risk. There are at least two significant reasons:
First, Sunday offerings are not the only time cash comes into the church. Many churches with air-tight security over Sunday collections completely ignore what happens from Monday through Saturday. And in many churches, the amounts can be substantial, including day care fees, special event fees such as banquets and conferences, food sales, book sales, fund raising revenues, etc., etc., etc. Also, tithes and offerings that are dropped off during the week often circumvent the entire teller process and instead land directly on the bookkeeper’s desk.
Second, cash inflow is not the only place where embezzlement takes place. In fact, a case can be made that the larger cases do not involve the cash inflow processes, but the outflow. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners backs this assertion with statistics showing that while skimming (taking money before it is recorded) makes up 20% of reported fraud cases; check tampering is even more prevalent, making up 25% of the cases. In addition, fraudulent expense reports and payroll scams chip in another 29% for good measure.
So, churches with tight controls over Sunday cash receipts should be commended for their efforts, but also reminded that effective fraud prevention includes extending this vigilance to the other means of inflow, and the outflow side as well.
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