You probably have ways to remind or encourage tithing, but do you have ways to keep what you receive? Even though it's unpleasant to think about, criminals could enter your sanctuary and they are tempted to steal your offerings. Exposed tithes can be tempting even to church members—often a more difficult fact to think about.
On a high attendance Sunday, such as Easter, pews will be more crowded than usual. Churches will open their doors to 6 out of 10 Americans for Easter services, according to Gallup Poll data. Is your church prepared for the potential increase in attendance?
Crowded pews can translate to greater offerings. Plates brimming with dollars and passed throughout the church are at risk for theft or embezzlement. Do you have procedures in place to help keep that money where it belongs?
What can you do to protect your ministry?
Count and deposit cash from offering plates on the same day received or lock in a secure safe until the next available day for deposit.
Preventive measures can help protect the offerings. Here are important steps to take:
- Develop and write down a policy of checks and balances and include it with your other risk management policies.
- Place more than one person in charge of collecting and counting the tithes.
- Total amounts should be reported independently and confidentially.
- Run background checks and analyze professional and personal financial history of your offering collection team.
- Lock all monetary donations in a lock box until deposited, which should be as soon as possible.
- Be prepared to report suspected theft to the proper authorities: your church officials, local law enforcement, etc.
It's important to start developing your theft prevention policies now, so when Easter rolls around your church will be ready. Your staff and volunteers should be trained on the new procedures well in advance. Be proactive rather than reactive.
Finally, is your church financially prepared for such a risk? Property and casualty insurance policies can provide coverage for theft and other criminal activities. It's important to review your coverage periodically to ensure it continues to be comprehensive enough to meet your needs.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate policies and procedures for your church's risk management program.