Embezzlement
Embezzlement

Congregations are especially susceptible to theft, embezzlement, and fraud. We foster an environment that encourages trust and vulnerability in other aspects of congregational life. We are often so desperate for volunteers we don’t ask for the kind of skills or accountability that we should to meet our fiduciary responsibilities. And we often inherit systems, habits, and volunteers that would be hard to change without a good reason.

General Financial Fraud Prevention Tactics

Congregations are especially susceptible to theft, embezzlement, and fraud. We foster an environment that encourages trust and vulnerability in other aspects of congregational life. We are often so desperate for volunteers we don’t ask for the kind of skills or accountability that we should to meet our fiduciary responsibilities. And we often inherit systems, habits, and volunteers that would be hard to change without a good reason. Here are some recommended practices and policies that every congregation should have in place:

  • Put the congregation’s financial policy in writing. Keep expectations consistent and clear.

  • Give those responsible for financial matters access to the written policy to prevent any plea of ignorance from a dishonest employee or volunteer.

  • Conduct annual background checks and run annual credit reports on those who have access to church funds.

  • Require annual external audits.

  • Hold people with access to financial documents to a covenant which clearly outlines that they will be removed from the position if the covenant is broken.

About the Author

  • Kim Sweeney is a Unitarian Universalist Credentialed Religious Educator and consultant.

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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