5. Implementing Parish Collections
Implementing Parish Collections
The two key elements to be considered by the Finance Committee are maximising income and financial propriety.
Every appeal should be properly conducted, so that there is no loss of income.
There is no limit to the types of appeal. The two main types of appeal are the collection for the priest, and the collection for the parish. These can be supplemented by other appeals, such as for youth ministry, or for a building appeal. You can also appeal for bequests.
These are conducted in different ways in different dioceses and even parishes. In every case, do not underestimate the generosity of parishioners to contribute, if the parish provides them with opportunities for spiritual growth.
Plan big, start delivering and ask big. That is the key.
Impropriety in parish finances is widespread still, though it has probably improved somewhat in recent years. When I worked in a diocese, over a two year period about one in five parishes had cases of financial impropriety.
These included most often false financial reporting to the diocese, but also alleged imbezzlement by a priest, and the redirection of appeals to other causes.
A vigilant diocese did discover and take action on these, but the point is that financial propriety must be actively enforced in parishes. Don't think that "it won't happen in my parish," over time it might well occur.
I have also known of suspected stealing by a house-keeper and by a staff member, where funds did go missing. Both were the result of funds not being immediately counted but being left in parish safes.
It is crucial that all funds are in the hands of two people at all times, so as to greatly reduce the risk of theft. Counting must always take place with two people in a room, so for practical reasons three people should be in the counting team.
All moneys should be banked immediately. Sometimes parishes do not count and bank moneys from Sunday night Masses but leave this to a later date. That is a simple target for internal thieves.
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