In looking at systems of internal control needed in the handling of church finances, we need to examine the control measures needed during the actual collection other of the offerings. In particular the spotlight is now on what happens when someone wants change from a large bill.
Remember, internal controls and procedures are not about a lack of trust in the people doing the tasks but these controls actually serve to protect them from wrongful accusations and is a practical, tangible deterrent to fraud. So let us look at what should and should not happen when some requires change.
The Petty Cash system
Requiring change is a normal, recurring situation so a practical and effective internal control to implement is the operation of a petty cash system.
The Offering Envelope
Internal control best practice is for all donations collected by the ushers to be delivered intact (as collected) to the counting team. If the usher opens an offering envelope to make change for a member this is considered to be tampering.
Let’s be real. If this practice is allowed (opening the envelope to make change) the church will open itself up to a lot of complications and scrutiny. Here is the picture that is painted by this behaviour.
Tampering with envelopes, because this is what it amounts to regardless of the usher’s good intentions, does nothing to protect the integrity of the ushers from unwarranted suspicion and the donors will not have the confidence that good stewardship is being practiced with the funds collected. The internal control put in place by the church is to have this action totally banned. That is, it’s against church policy for the ushers to open any offering envelope.