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Paying Bills (Disbursements)

Hand with pen writing a check

When making sure that your bills are being paid efficiently, accurately and on time, your congregation also needs safeguards to make sure no one has the opportunity to use your system to embezzle funds.

Here are some typical policies and practices:

  • There must be a bill, invoice, statement, or written request for reimbursement for every check drawn. These should be available for comparison with the canceled checks on an occasional basis. 

  • No checks should be signed without documentation of the expense and its budget category. 

  • Monthly expenses must use the categories established in the church budget.

  • How many people should be authorized to sign checks? Enough that the church business can go on if the treasurer is away at a conference or on vacation. 

  • Other than checks for payroll or other routine monthly payments such as a mortgage, checks larger than an amount set by board policy (e.g., $2,000) should require two signers. 

  • The minister is often the only staff person with signatory authority, but many ministers prefer not to have that responsibility. 

  • Persons should never sign checks made out to themselves without a co-signer.

  • For additional safety in congregations without staff, the monthly bank statement and canceled checks should be opened and reconciled by someone other than the person who signs the checks. This is to protect against someone falsifying the amount on a check after it has been signed.

  • As a substitute for preparing checks for reimbursement or routine expenditures, board policy may authorize electronic bank drafts or electronic payments following other standard procedures for documentation.

About the Author

UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Office of Church Staff Finances

The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances states its own mission as follows: Guided by the values of our faith, we equip congregations for excellence as employers and their staff for financial competence and well-being. Information, services, and programs are provided to congregational leaders and...

For more information contact ocsf@uua.org.