Avoid Financial Misconduct
(better known as FRAUD!)

In my time in this position, I have witnessed several churches experience fraud. One person was prosecuted to the full extent of the law; this was their third offense for fraud. Nobody at the church had checked their background. Most were let go, moving on to the next place of employment or church. Some were never caught.

We are so trusting and filled with grace, and we think it won’t happen to us. Therefore, we don’t prioritize establishing some basic controls and policies that can help avoid the awful mess that can come with a breach of security.

Some Resources:  

UMC Discipleship Ministries just published a very good article about some basic steps you can take at your church.

Check security is another piece – incoming and outgoing checks. Banks process 28 million checks every day. No banker will ever tell you this, but practically speaking, nobody is matching up payees with endorsements. Computers are getting better at this, but there is still room for theft. I recall working with one church that received checks in the mail. Someone was stealing their mail, and depositing the checks in an ATM. This went on for months before anyone realized it and by then thousands in revenue was gone. Read about how you can secure checks in the mail.

Finally, electronic giving and banking are very secure. But make sure the logins and passwords are for people, not positions like “bookkeeper@mychurch.org”. Two-factor authentications should always be required. Most banks have this as part of their security and offer it to customers for no fee. Positive Pay is another banking product that protects your bank accounts from unauthorized transactions. If someone gets your church’s routing number and account number (from a check you wrote), they can clean out the account.  Positive Pay will protect you from this. Your banker can help you get this set up.

Electronic giving is the best, most secure way to receive donations. If you don’t have it, you are not only at more risk of fraud, but you are also not receiving all the gifts that people want to give. Because of this, electronic giving pays for itself. Check out Vanco or Giving Tools.

Now That’s Good Stewardship:

Donors give for three reasons:

  1. They believe in the work of the church.
  2. They trust and are inspired by the leaders.
  3. They believe the finances are managed well.

Don’t neglect number 3! These concepts and controls are a vital part of your church’s financial stewardship.

For a deeper understanding of best practices in managing your church’s financial affairs, I would be happy to send church leaders in the Mountain Sky area a copy of Janet & Phil Jamieson’s book, Ministry & Money: A Practical Guide for Pastors, complements of the Methodists Helping Methodists Foundation. Send us an email to take advantage of this: info@mhmfn.org.

Kristi Kinnison, Executive Director, Methodists Helping Methodists Foundation

More Resources

Learn and practice Biblical Financial Stewardship through education resources provided by the Methodists Helping Methodists Foundation.