Keep Would-Be Thieves from Curbing your Christmas Joy

Large or small, churches and ministries are often easy prey for would-be thieves, especially as church holidays, like Christmas, approach and weekly offerings increase as more people return to worship and other ministry activities. Ministry leaders can boost their ability to keep thieves away from their contributions and property by taking just a few precautions—not only during the holidays, but also throughout the year.

Protecting offerings and collections

Start by establishing financial controls to prevent theft and embezzlement:

  • Ensure that more than one person is responsible for counting the collection—and for every other aspect of a ministry's finances.
  • Complete background checks for those handling church finances.
  • Develop written procedures for handling ministry finances and maintain financial records in a safe place.
  • Conduct an annual audit.


Safeguarding valuables

If you haven't already done so, create or update a personal property inventory so you have a current record and appropriate insurance protection for your equipment, financial records, and other valuables.

  • Use a safe for petty cash, small valuables, keys, and important documents.
  • Secure portable items, such as musical instruments, video cameras, and tablet computers. 
  • Eliminate signs in the building that advertise cash, such as "Finance Office" or "Donation Receipts."


Securing your building

Make sure your security measures are up to date and those responsible for security know what to do in the event they discover a theft or encounter one in progress.

  • Lock the doors of interior offices, classrooms, and supply rooms when not in use. If you cannot control access otherwise, consider installing collapsible metal gates that bolt to walls.
  • Retain keys and security codes. Ask a church representative to open the church building for guests and secure it when they leave.
  • Assign a church member to monitor your building to verify the whereabouts of people and to assist in an emergency.
  • Install adequate lighting near doors, in parking lots, and at the rear of buildings.
  • Use a timer or a motion- or light-sensitive switch to activate lights.
  • Maintain landscaping to eliminate possible hiding places and to give visitors an unobstructed view of entrances and windows.
  • Consider installing an alarm system.

Be mindful of the risks that giving imposes on your ministry's operation. Make every effort to protect you ministry from thieves, especially during the holidays when increased giving and added ministry activities are often the norm.