The decision to bond a church treasurer or financial manager rests with individual congregations and denominations. Some church bodies develop accountability processes that reduce the need for bonding, while other churches obtain a fidelity bond to protect their assets. Churches may directly bond their financial officers through an insurance company or may utilize their denomination's bonding program.
Church employees and officers often have access to church funds as well as sensitive information, such as employee Social Security numbers. In a situation where an employee or officer abuses his position of trust to steal funds or commit identity theft, the church could not only lose its assets, but it may also be liable for any damages suffered by others due to an employee's actions. A fidelity bond is insurance that reduces a church's financial liability if an employee engages in misconduct. It can also compensate a church for funds stolen by an employee or officer.
A church treasurer is responsible for overseeing the church's finances. The exact job description of a church treasurer varies by congregation, but the treasurer is typically responsible for managing the church's accounts, overseeing the counting and deposits of offerings and preparing financial reports for the church. In many churches, the treasurer can write checks on and withdraw money from the church's bank accounts. The treasurer may also have access to the church's safe.
Some denominations, such as the United Methodist Church, require their churches to obtain a fidelity bond on their treasurers and financial officers. Denominations may arrange for fidelity insurance for their congregations, or they may require local churches to secure their own bonding services through an insurance or bonding company.
Some denominations leave decisions about fidelity bonding up to individual congregations. The decision to purchase a fidelity bond may depend on whether a church has significant assets: Some churches have very few assets that could be seized by a judgment creditor and the church's bank accounts may not be large enough to merit the cost of a fidelity bond. These churches may nonetheless have strict procedures for handing church money, which may include a "buddy system" in which two people who are not part of the same family handle, count and manage church offerings and other funds together. As a church grows and adds more staff members, or begins to take in more funds, its leadership may eventually decide to purchase a fidelity bond.
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Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.