The church should do everything in its power to safeguard its reputation by putting measures in place to prevent any appearance of impropriety. These controls will also serve to preserve the integrity and safety of the members since they help to remove temptation and provide structure and established guidelines as to how accounting for church finances should be done.
Every church will from time to time invite another minister speak at their service or function. Very often a special offering is taken from those in attendance at the meeting and it is announced that these proceeds will be donated to the guest speaker. Care must be taken in handling these contributions and the internal control measures that need to be in place will include a number of the procedures already discussed.
To begin with, the overarching internal controls procedure -separation of responsibilities- need to be in effect. This means, the collecting, counting, recording and bookkeeper functions must each be carried out by separate individuals or groups. Also the best practice procedures regarding the appointment, training and scheduling of ushers still need to be followed.
- The church may or may not have pre-printed envelopes for the service. Where they do, these envelopes as well as cash and/or check contributions should be collected together at one time.
- The collection should be done separate from the normal church collection, perhaps at the end of the service or just before the guest speaker addresses the church.
- Where funds as placed at the altar, the ushers collect and accumulate it for submission to the counting team.
- No less than two ushers should be with the money at all times. At no time should the offering be left in the possession of just one person.
- Note carefully. The collection for the guest speaker should not be mixed with the regular collections at any time.
The procedures for the delivering of offering to be counted must be followed.
- At the end the service, the ushers deliver the offering it to the designated secure area (on church grounds) to be counted or stored away until the counting can be made.
- If it not possible to do the count immediately, then the collection should be placed in a locked safe in an area that has limited access to individuals, on the church grounds.
Recording and Bookkeeping
The persons who do the counting will follow the procedures and guidelines set out and the recording is done.
- Where checks were submitted, copies of the checks and envelopes are made.
- The adding machine tapes are prepared for currency, coins and checks and are initialled by at least two members.
- The deposit ticket is prepared and duplicate made.
- The deposit is then locked away in the bank deposit bag.
Where the counting is done immediately at the end of the service in order to allow for a payment to the guest speaker, the amount recorded as received for the special offering is still deposited intact and check for that total is prepared and given to the guest speaker.
By following the above in a very practical way, the church is ensuring that there can be no hint of misconduct in how they handle the finances entrusted to them.