Risk Bites Issue 7: Cash handling for congregations
Taking the collection is a vital part of the life and mission of the congregation. It’s an opportunity for congregation members to express their worship of God through sacrificial giving, and it allows the life and work of the congregation to continue.
Some congregations and special missions will collect sums of money when fundraising, running an op shop or other trading activities.
However, physically collecting money brings with it some risks. Unfortunately, a sum of money can be a significant temptation, and while a loss of funds through theft is unfortunate, any aggression towards staff or a church member in the course of a robbery could be really harmful physically and/or psychologically.
The following guidance has been prepared for Church Councils to assist them to protect anyone who is handling cash. It is recommended that Church Councils do a risk assessment of cash handling, using the following information.
Cash handling risks include:
- Aggression – physical violence or intimidation could occur such as mugging a person on the way to the bank, or snatching a bag.
- Theft or fraud – this could mean a loss of funds for the congregation, or a lack of transparency in procedures could leave someone open to a false accusation.
- Infection – collecting and handling cash should be done in accordance with the congregation’s covid-19 safe plan. Hands should always be washed after handling money. For other measures see the Covid-19 Safe Roadmap
- Break-in/property damage – damage to the building or other property could occur if money is thought to be kept onsite.
Options to make cash handling as safe and secure as possible
Minimise the amount of cash
Minimise how much cash is collected and transported – bank money often, and encourage online giving and electronic payment as far as possible
In some contexts, such as particular parish missions, thought should be given to how the collection can be safely taken.
Don’t leave money unsecured or unattended during the service, and count it as soon as possible.
Be careful about the impression given about how much money is onsite e.g. keep donated money less visible (consider a bag instead of a plate), don’t talk about the safe at the public gathering, don’t (inadvertently) give the impression that any larger sums raised are kept onsite.
Protect counters and cash-handlers
Consider what procedures can be used to ensure transparency. Transparency protects against false accusation (and also to protect your brother or sister from stumbling)
Counting roster - choose counters wisely, have more than 1 person rostered, vary who is on and who is on together, where possible
Document the count and have both counters sign-off (here is a sample Count Sheet)
Give people on the counting roster training in your cash handling procedures.
Store and transport wisely
If available, bank monies at the Post Office on the same day they are collected. Also, consider having a safe at church to keep the money in until the bank is open. Only open the safe when two people are present.
Bank the money as soon as possible, to keep it secure and to minimise the amount of cash on site.
Vary the routine for banking – ideally vary the time, who takes it, and if possible, to which branch. Wherever possible, two people should go together.
Don’t send money home (especially not with the last person to leave, or the same person every week).