With church crime on the rise and expected to reach $80 billion by 2025, churches should take measures to ensure that revenue and cash receipts are handled properly. The collection of money during the offering exposes churches to the possibility of fraud and theft. To minimize risk, churches should follow these best practices for service offerings. 

Before and during the collection

  • Highly encourage members to use envelopes.
  • Always use at least two people to collect and count the offering, more if possible.
  • Collection team members should be different from the count team.
  • Rotate count team periodically.

After the collection

  • Offering should never be left with only one person.
  • Take the offerings to a secure room after collection.
  • Count the offering as soon as possible.
  • If money is counted later:
    • Immediately place the offering in sealed bags with date and time noted on the bag.
    • Place the bags in a safe drop slot and limit access to the key or combination.
    • Use two people to retrieve the money bags from the safe.
  • Ensure the seal on the money bag is intact.
  • Perform count in a secure room with video surveillance.
  • Use an original count person and a 2nd person to verify the count.
  • Prepare a summary of receipts by type (cash, check, envelope, non-envelope, etc.).
  • Prepare a summary of receipts by purpose (general fund, designated fund, restricted fund).
  • Stamp checks “For Deposit Only”.
  • Someone other than the counters should:
    • Prepare the deposit slip
    • Reconcile it to the count sheet summary
    • Take the deposit to the bank (separate from preparer of deposit)
  • IMPORTANT – The collection team, count team, and person handling the deposit should not have access to the general ledger or the member contribution records.
  • Count information and the deposit slip should be given to the bookkeeper/contributions clerk for entry into the general ledger and member contribution records.
  • Reconcile the following to ensure all amounts agree:
    • Count sheets
    • Deposit slip
    • General ledger
    • Member contribution records
  • CFO, Treasurer, or Business Administrator should review this reconciliation.

Free resource

Best practices for church service offerings one-sheet