Keeping control over electronic contributions

Many churches offer the option of electronic giving. Just like cash and checks, you need a procedure in place to keep integrity with electronic contributions.

Here’s an example:

Jane Smith indicates on her pledge card that she wants an automatic charge to her credit card on the 15th of each month for $200. Your church business manager inputs the credit card information into the credit card processor that you use. On the 15th of the month, the credit card processor charges the credit card account $200 and deposits the contribution to the designated church bank account.

James Nash, a senior auditor with our firm, suggests the following solution for internal controls with electronic contributions:

Access to inputting or changing information into the credit card processor should be segregated from the access to donor records and reconciliation of amounts charged.

The church needs to establish a procedure to regularly review electronic contributions. The Church should reconcile the batch report from the credit card processor to the bank deposit.  A process to ensure that the donors receive contribution credit on their giving statements should also be implemented.

All changes (new automatic authorization requests and termination of giving) should be kept separate and reviewed to ensure that the request was properly completed.

More importantly, the Church should review various credit card processors and review the Service Organization Controls Report (SOC 1, formerly SAS 70).  This report will give the Church or ministry the comfort that the processor has the proper controls in place to safeguard the information of their donors.