More Money Is Stolen From Churches Annually Than Is Spent on Missionary Work

RALEIGH, N.C. — According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, nonprofits lose an average of 5 to 7 percent of their revenues each year to fraud and theft. Brotherhood Mutual, an insurance company specializing in serving religious institutions, says that over $39 billion was stolen from churches in 2014, surpassing the $35 billion churches spent on missionary work in the same period.

Certified public accountant Lisa London, author of the globally recognized guide Using QuickBooks Online for Small Nonprofits and Churches, says the thieves are usually the people you would least suspect. Their crimes require motives, means, and opportunity. Not much can be done about motives, London notes, but churches and nonprofits can do something about limiting the means and opportunities that may be present for the more than 62 million people who volunteer each year for their churches, local PTAs, Little Leagues, homeowner associations, and civic groups who may be asked to handle money for the organization or a fundraiser.

London’s mission is two-fold: to reduce the fraud and its impact on nonprofits and to take the fear out of being a volunteer tasked with handling money.

London has three simple steps any size organization can take to keep the money safe and the employees and volunteers above suspicion. She suggests always having two people handle the money whether at a fundraiser or a regular meeting, not letting the person in charge of the bank account also have access to the donor records, and regularly comparing the financial results to a budget.

Lisa London, CPA, is the author of “The Accountant Beside You” series of resources which are being used by tens of thousands of organizations around the world. Her book, Using QuickBooks Online for Small Nonprofits & Churches, includes detailed steps to guard against fraud while setting up an accounting system for a small nonprofit or church. London has been a CPA for three decades and specializes in assisting small businesses, nonprofits and churches. She has been quoted in U.S. News and World Report and featured on the nationally syndicated “Ed Tyll Show,” North Carolina Public Radio’s “The State of Things,” and on CBS or ABC affiliates in Pittsburg, Kan.Greenville, N.C. and numerous other stations around the nation.

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