A debit card for the treasurer?
A church debit card is supposed to be used only for church business? The First Christian Church of Garden Grove is likely to stress this with future treasurers.
The church treasurer was hired in 1978, and had a church debit card. Apparently she thought it was OK to use it for personal expenses and gambling. She used the ATM card to withdraw cash every week. For a long time…
The court only looked at 2013-2017, and accepted a guilty plea to seven counts of grand theft (and other enhancements). She served 102 days in jail already, will be on probation for five years, and will need to repay nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Link
The original article (link) was short on detail, but it is highly likely that the church had the following holes in its financial procedures:
- The treasurer was keeping the books AND had access to an ATM card;
- The bank statements were not being reviewed by anyone other than the treasurer herself;
- Nobody looked over the bank reconciliation after she was done with it.
How To Prevent This At Your Church:
RULE #1 FOR FINANCIAL PROCEDURES: do NOT let the same person have access to the money AND have the ability to cover their tracks. Keeping the books and touching ANY cash or bank access are incompatible duties.
Have bank and credit card statements mailed directly to the pastor or other senior church staff person. That individual should look over the statements to perform a “smell check” before passing it to the one who keeps the books. This person should look for anything out of the ordinary, including:
- ATM cash withdrawals (apparently the primary mechanism in this case);
- Checks made out to cash or unknown vendors;
- Withdrawals at the bank;
- Movements of money between accounts;
- Check images showing checks with questionable signatures (or signed by an unauthorized person); and
- Odd vendors for checks or credit or debit card purchases (Victoria’s Secret and liquor stores, for instance).
When the person reconciling the bank account is finished, someone else should look it over.
Consider our church audit service – it’s easy and surprisingly affordable:
- Your church’s chief money person answers a bunch of questions online
- He or she fields questions out to others as needed;
- All the answers are reviewed by the church staff, elders, and deacons (and corrected as necessary);
- We produce a book showing what is being done well and what could be improved.
- The book also includes a ‘best practices’ section and a plan to do it all with the minimum number of people;
- We print copies of the book for the pastor and each board member, and meet by video conference to discuss implementation.