The Basic Elements of a Truly Secure Sunday Collection
Before any Sunday collection system can be deemed adequately secure, appropriate security equipment and procedures must be applied so that no one - not even the pastor - has lone, unobserved access to those funds. This mantle of protection must begin immediately after the collection is taken up (when it is consolidated into a single container, usually in the vestibule of the church) and must remain absolutely unbroken until all monies have been accurately tallied and properly deposited in the church bank account. In order to reach that objective, the following criteria must be met.
• The container into which the funds collected for each Mass or service are consolidated must be of a type that can be closed and positively secured. The act of securing must be done concurrent with the consolidation. Either the container itself or the device used to secure the container must be serially numbered and of a type that cannot be opened and reclosed without reflecting that act, so that each person in the chain of custody (from church vestibule to counting room team) can readily recognize, through simple visual examination, whether anyone had or could have had direct access to the funds.
• Detailed written operating procedures must be developed for the collection, consolidation, transport, interim storage, counting and banking operations. The counting procedures must provide for the presence of at least three (3) counters before any sealed containers are opened, and establish continuous observation and control over the funds (especially the currency) by at least two (2) persons, from the moment the storage containers are unsealed and opened until the funds have been counted independently by two persons, verified, recorded on a witnessed bank deposit slip, and locked or sealed in a bank deposit bag. The establishment of four or more counting teams, each consisting of four or more counters is strongly recommended.
• Each week's count must be documented via standardized forms. These forms must be designed so that, when completed, they clearly reflect receipt of all sealed containers and whether the required witnessing and verification procedures were followed. The forms must be reviewed and filed each week by someone not otherwise involved in the counting and banking process.
If you or someone in your church or diocese has significant experience in the field of Security, with emphasis on the control mechanisms required to secure a cash operation, the above criteria should provide an adequate basis for developing your own system. However, if such expertise is not available to you, we respectfully suggest that our guidelines are clearly the most effective and economical alternative available anywhere. In that regard, we reiterate that the guidelines and related forms may be downloaded from this Website free of charge.
A version of our guidelines—codified and implemented by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2005—was subsequently adopted by the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management (NLRCM) as their one-and-only recommended Best Practice for securing the collections. The codified version (and related addendum) may be downloaded directly from the NLRCM’s website or by clicking HERE. To download our guidelines, follow the link below to the next page.
Finally, consider this Catch 22: Most pastors and other church leaders will tell you they would implement secure procedures if and when they have reason to believe a loss problem exists. But without effective security procedures already in place, there is no mechanism that will alert them to such a problem if and when it arises. And that, we dare say, is good food for serious thought!