Managing Church Finances: Counting Offerings

Managing Church Finances: Counting Offerings

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Internal controls need to be in place for managing the collection, counting offerings for worship services and Sunday School. Do remember that these procedures or control measures are to safeguard the integrity of all involved and are not directed at any individual.

The simplest and possibly easiest internal control to understand and implement is that of dual or shared custody.   As with the collecting of offering for regular church service the collecting of offerings requires the following internal controls to be in place:

  • Two persons should be collecting the money and keeping track of it at all times. This control measure is easy to relate to, understand and implement.
  • These two persons should together take the money to the counting team for counting and deposit.
  • The ushers should be reminded not make change from the offering collected. The petty cash system should be followed where someone needs change.

The counting team will follow the internal control guidelines set out below.

Make sure that the counting area is secure

  • The count area should have no distractions and no “through traffic” that would allow access to a bathroom, supply closet or individuals other than the counters. A limit should be set as to the number of people (other than counters) that are in the room.  The only people in the room should be the counters, person overseeing the count, and maybe someone from the church staff.

Counting Supplies

  • Before the count begins, make sure that all the count supplies are in place, namely, collection worksheets, Bank Deposit Tickets, Tape calculator, and bank deposit bags.

Counting the offering

  • The offering is counted, sorted and recorded by alternate count team members. These separate duties may be rotated among count team members.  The entire collection is deposited.  No cash is to be retained for Sunday school incidentals.
  • Where contributions are by way of checks, the checks should be photocopied as well as any offering envelopes.
  • Separate the cash by denomination. Count and band them.  Make sure that the amount and the counters’ initials are written on the band.  The second counter should open the band, do the recount, and record their initials on the band.
  • Do two different adding machine tapes to confirm the checks total, and two adding machine tapes to confirm the coin and currency total.
  • The count sheet is then completed by the counters documenting currency, coin, and checks. Write on the adding machine which is cash and which is check, initial and date it.  The collection worksheet will have one copy of the tape is attached, inclusive of date and the counter’s initials.  This provides a level of accountability.
  • It is now the counter’s duty to record the checks and currency on a duplicate bank deposit ticket with all information on the original ticket. The original bank deposit ticket, including the adding machine tape is sent to the bank and the copy kept by the church.

As you set up your systems for managing your church finances, you’ll find that when your procedures are documented and followed, your ushers and counting team will be empowered to serve with confidence.

Authored by: Belinda Whitfield

Belinda Whitfield is a Certified Public Accountant. Her firm Whitfield & Associates specializes in helping churches and non-profits obtain their 501c3 status, get control of their finances and stay in compliance with IRS and state guidelines.

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