Generosity

6 Ways to Stop People from Stealing at Your Church (Plus one bonus that could solve the whole problem)

Generosity

6 Ways to Stop People from Stealing at Your Church (Plus one bonus that could solve the whole problem)

Stealing is a problem inside and outside of the church. The existence of stealing within the church is an unfortunate situation, but it happens and needs to be prepared for.

In a recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research, one in ten Protestant churches said that someone had stolen money. According to LifeWay research, they believe this frequency of embezzlement within local churches is due in large part to their dependence upon volunteers overseeing their finances.

The role of volunteers in the life of the church isn’t going to change. Everyone who places his or her faith in Christ becomes a member of his body (1 Cor. 12), and they are called by God to participate in his work, which means the church will always be open to volunteers.

Even though this is the case, there are six ways your church can practically prevent stealing of church funds.

#1. Track your giving

The first thing your church needs to do to prevent its funds from being stolen is to track your giving. As you keep track of your giving, keep an eye trends. Do you notice an unexpected spike in giving? Are there questionable recurring transactions and transfers of large sums of money? These activities and others do not necessarily mean funds are being stolen, but keeping your eyes on short- and long-term trends are key.

#2. Require dual signatures

There are several instances where your church should require dual signatures.

  1. First, your church needs to decide a predetermined amount of money that requires two signatures.
  2. Second, charges over the predetermined amount your church sets should not be authorized by the person handling the transaction. This type of arrangement creates a conflict of interest and an unnecessary temptation.
  3. Third, require two signatures for transfers of money over the predetermined amount of money you decided.
  4. Finally, for dual signatures, it’s important to rotate this responsibility consistently. A regular rotation will help prevent two people from working together.

#3. Limit access to bank information

Fraud is a big business. And, just because you lead a church, it doesn’t mean you’re exempt from your information being stolen. If anything, people may find churches easy targets since many of them work through volunteers to handle their finances. In general, it’s a good idea to limit the number of people who have access to your bank information

#4. Ledger reconciliation

The person responsible for reviewing your church’s monthly statement should not be someone within the church who regularly makes financial transactions. Again, if the same person fills both of these roles, then this person will have conflicting interests.

#5. Encourage rotation

From the people who collect your offering, count the giving, and deposit the funds in your church’s account, your church should regularly rotate the individuals in these positions. Rotating people in and out will decrease the ability someone has to steal money.

#6. External audit

Keeping track of your church’s income and expenses is important, and it’s also vital for an individual or organization unrelated to anyone within your church to audit your financial statements. An annual external audit will provide an extra needed set of eyes on your churches finances.

Bonus: Enable mobile, online, and other forms of digital giving

Passing the plate or putting a collection box in the back means you’re still encouraging “offline giving” — that is, giving by cash and check.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll stop “passing the plate” any time soon, but it’s important to understand that the mere fact that cash and check is being passed around in a room of hundreds or even thousands of people means that there is opportunity for theft. Add to that the fact that the cash and check has to be counted by people and you’ve compounded your theft risk level.

Adding mobile and online giving to your church giving mix allows for those who are interested in this option to give digitally, thus reducing the amount of cash and check giving thats being handled.

Digital giving is a brilliant way to reduce theft and overall financial risk for any church.

Corner markets, grocery stores, and other retailers figured this out years ago. That’s why you see signs like “no bill over $20 accepted” along with all the signs highlighting that they take VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and AMEX. They want upstanding people to know they take digital forms of payment and would be thieves to know there isn’t much cash on hand.

Conclusion

In the end, one way you can limit the number of people who are involved with your church’s finances is by encouraging the members of your church to give online. You will still need to abide by the principles above in tracking your church’s financial statements and requiring dual signatures on larger transactions. But, by pointing people to give online, you will limit the number of individuals who are needed to oversee your church’s giving.

What systems does your church have in place to prevent stealing of church funds? Share your advice in the comments below!

Expert Tips on How to Effectively Launch a New Online Giving Tool

01
Make it accessible so people can give in the way that is most comfortable to them. Don't make it hard for people to give money.
Some people like to give online, some like mobile, some like text. Whatever they like, let them give in that way if you can.
02
Brady Shearer
www.storytape.com
Talk about it every single week. Consistently promote it on every platform. 
Be patient. We all resist change.
03
Michael Lukaszewski
www.churchfuel.com
Launch it to your staff, your leaders, and your volunteers (in that order) and help those groups use it before you launch it publicly.
04
Teach it in your new member class.
Allow for people to sign-up right on the spot via their mobile phone (or through a laptop or iPad for those that don't have a mobile device handy).
05
Justin Dean
www.thatcc.com
On launch weekend, have volunteers and staff accessible with iPads to walk people through how to set up an account and get recurring giving configured.
06
Daniel Irmler
www.churchhero.com
On a regular basis, tell stories from members who are using and loving it. 
You don't don’t need a big production value shoot. Keep it simple by using an iPhone (horizontal) and a decent mic.
07
Invite your congregation to take out their phones and download the mobile giving app right in the service.
08
Nik Goodner
www.crtvchurch.com
Explain the why behind the change and highlight the benefits of the new system. 
People like to be "on the team".
09
Kevin Ekmark
www.church.org
I always tell people, "you need to clean your house before you invite friends over". It's crucial that your giving platform is easily found, whether it's on the web or in the church. 
On the web, making sure that your website is mobile friendly (Google and Bing both recommend mobile responsive design) can be a huge help. You can also incorporate bots from Facebook or a service like Intercom to help walk people through online giving on your website. When necessary, a human can jump in and help too. This helps complete the process from being found online to completing the online giving.
10
Logan Fields
www.theappguys.org
Tell them the real reasons. Giving members are concerned with what's best for the church and not just what they individually prefer. Transparency.
"This platform will allow us to better manage finances and spend less staff time on the books and more on people." etc. The temptation is to treat members like consumers who we need to impress instead of team members. Treat them like equals who you assume are interested in what's best for the church/ mission and people will likely rise to it.
11
Kenny Jahng
www.kennyjahng.com
Launch a $3.16 campaign. Ask people to all give just $3.16 to a weekly or bi-weekly blessing fund. Then, pick one person or cause to bless IN TOWN and go give that person all the money collected.
  • It could be the all volunteer firefighter squad in town. "We'll take all the $3.16's collected and go buy a meal or treat and drop off for the firefighters who volunteer."
  • It could be a widow the church knows about - bless her with something new for her home or hobby or pets.
  • Single mothers - supply them with a night out. Or pay for a house cleaner or a handyman for a couple of hours.
  • Special needs families - pay for evening out for the parents and child care for the special needs kids so the parents get a break.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
This works incredibly well because you are teaching generosity / outward posture to your people on a consistent basis and getting people to give on mobile- while making it about PARTICIPATION vs AMOUNT. You'll have people regularly trying out the mobile option as well as pre-register them in the system.

There you have it! Some amazing tips, right?

Which tip stood out the most to you … or looked to be the craziest?! Share with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

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6 Ways to Stop People from Stealing at Your Church (Plus one bonus that could solve the whole problem)

Tithe.ly

Tithe.ly powers mobile, text, and web giving for
churches and ministries.

LEARN MORE
Sign Up