Sorry I’m late!

A couple arrived at church after the collection. They quietly slipped into the back row.
 
twentiesBut on the way the fellow slipped a few twenty-dollar bills to one of the deacons to include with the collection. The deacon took the money and nodded… and then had to decide what to do with the cash. In this case, he walked it to the back and put it with the rest of the collection. But he could very easily have pocketed it – and then “forgotten” about it.
 
I was the fellow who was late, and this situation really happened. This was before I started paying attention to church fraud, by the way. My thought was, “Sure, the dough might not make it to the collection team, but I don’t care. I would be just as happy to be a blessing to this particular deacon.” 
 
But I was putting him in a difficult situation. He took me to task after I told him of my thoughts: he said, “Oh, great. You get the credit for donating, but you don’t mind making me the thief that takes God’s money!” I don’t do that any more, you can bet. And I respect that deacon for his rebuke.
“Oh, great. You get the credit for donating, but you don’t mind making me the thief that takes God’s money!”
Analysis
Money that is pocketed instead of counted is an example of “skimming” – money is stolen before it ever gets to the church books. Other forms of fraud cause greater loss. But skimming is the hardest to detect. There are no entries anywhere in the records which might help identify the loss.
 
It’s also one of the worst temptations. Because there is no cover-up needed, people see it as a low-risk opportunity.
 
And even without any theft, it looks bad. The deacon here was not particularly tempted (he’s in fact a man of impressive integrity). But he was certainly concerned at how it might look had he dropped the bills into his pocket.
 
Drop safeThe solution is for a church to have a ‘drop safe’. These are locked boxes that have a slot at the top for folks to make their deposits. Any tardy church members can simply be directed to the box in the back of the church.
 
Often these drop safes require two keys for opening. This is a great feature – you give the keys to two unrelated individuals. Each is able to provide accountability and protection for the other. Two sets of unrelated eyes keeps things clean! Another way of saying that is that any theft in this situation would require the collusion of the two. Collusion certainly can happen. But is a lot less likely than for one person to somehow ‘misplace’ some of the contents of the box.
 
Mesa Safes makes this one, which would likely be fine for most churches. I’ve seen prices for well under $100: here’s the link to WalMart’s offering. You can also order them through lots of other vendors.