Compassionate Service Meals: Fast Offering Expense?

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steveheath
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Compassionate Service Meals: Fast Offering Expense?

Postby steveheath » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:43 pm

Our Relief Society put together frozen dinners as a compassionate service project for families in need. No families have been identified yet; the sisters wanted to have meals already prepared so that when they hear of a family in need they can quickly and easily provide the meal.

Since we don't know who the meals are going to yet, can fast offering funds be used to reimburse the cost of the meals? The screen in MLS requires (I believe) that a recipient be entered for a fast offering check. What if there is no recipient?

I actually found out that our RS had done this a few years ago. I went back and found the check. It turns out that fast offering funds were in fact used and "Unknown" was entered under "Fast Offering Recipient." Apparently, "Unknown" had been added as a fast offering recipient.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Is this an appropriate use of fast offering funds? If so, is putting "unknown" as the recipient going to create any potential issues during an audit?

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:56 pm

steveheath wrote:Since we don't know who the meals are going to yet, can fast offering funds be used to reimburse the cost of the meals? The screen in MLS requires (I believe) that a recipient be entered for a fast offering check. What if there is no recipient?

You are correct that fast offering expenses require a recipient. There is no way around that. There are ways around that (the "unknown" that was entered before), but you will not likely find much support for that approach here.

steveheath wrote:Any thoughts or suggestions? Is this an appropriate use of fast offering funds? If so, is putting "unknown" as the recipient going to create any potential issues during an audit?

This seems like a legitimate FO expense to me, but ultimately that is a decision your bishop has to make. I am not a fan of putting "unknown" in, but I see no other way around it and it seems counter-intuitive to penalize your RS for being prepared. One question I would have is how do wards normally fund compassionate service?

jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:07 am

steveheath wrote:Since we don't know who the meals are going to yet, can fast offering funds be used to reimburse the cost of the meals?
Not all recipients of compassionate service would necessarily qualify for fast offering assistance. Without knowing who the assistance is going to makes it questionable as to whether the expense qualifies as FO assistance.

steveheath wrote:The screen in MLS requires (I believe) that a recipient be entered for a fast offering check. What if there is no recipient
There should be a recipient name since the purpose of FO assistance is for a family or an individual. While the wiki is not definitive guidance, the Fast offering guidance section of the Expensesarticle states that "Each check written for fast offering purposes must specify a recipient." The audit checklist also states in the details for each transaction tested that for payments from fast offerings, include the name of the person assisted.

steveheath wrote:I actually found out that our RS had done this a few years ago. I went back and found the check. It turns out that fast offering funds were in fact used and "Unknown" was entered under "Fast Offering Recipient." Apparently, "Unknown" had been added as a fast offering recipient.
I would not use this as a guide for the acceptability of this action. Was it written up in the audit? If it wasn't, did the auditor even examine this particular expense as one of the tested transactions?

steveheath wrote:If so, is putting "unknown" as the recipient going to create any potential issues during an audit?
One of the purposes of an audit is to identify misuse of funds or fraud. In my opinion this is misuse of funds if any meals are provided to anyone who does not qualify for FO assistance. And as I stated earlier recipients of compassionate service would not necessarily qualify for fast offering assistance.

For questions of this nature I would consult my local leaders. The bishop should consult the audit committee chairman or stake president. If the stake president has any questions he should consult the area auditor.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

allenjpl
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Postby allenjpl » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:11 am

steveheath wrote:Since we don't know who the meals are going to yet, can fast offering funds be used to reimburse the cost of the meals? The screen in MLS requires (I believe) that a recipient be entered for a fast offering check. What if there is no recipient?


Sounds like a perfectly reasonable use of the RS budget. As with any other compassionate service projects, any reimbursements should be taken from the RS budget. Fast offerings are only for those members in need of welfare assistance.

TinMan
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Postby TinMan » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:33 am

To me, rendering compassionate service in emergency situations is more the responsibility of visiting teachers and neighbors. The handbook says this:

9.6.2Compassionate Service

All Relief Society sisters have a responsibility to be conscious of the needs of others. They use their time, skills, talents, spiritual and emotional support, and prayers of faith to help others.
Through the help of visiting teachers and others in the ward, the Relief Society presidency identifies those who have special needs because of old age, physical or emotional illness, emergencies, births, deaths, disability, loneliness, and other challenges. The Relief Society president reports her findings to the bishop. Under his direction, she coordinates assistance. She assesses the skills and circumstances of all sisters as she determines who may be able to help.
She may ask a counselor, a compassionate service coordinator, or a visiting teacher to help coordinate these service efforts. She may also form a committee to help. Sisters can assist by providing meals, providing child care or home care, helping individual sisters improve literacy skills, providing transportation for needed medical assistance, and responding to other needs.


I think you are depriving visiting teachers, home teachers, and neighbors blessings by not letting them render compassionate service.

steveheath
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Postby steveheath » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:50 pm

jdlessley wrote:Not all recipients of compassionate service would necessarily qualify for fast offering assistance. Without knowing who the assistance is going to makes it questionable as to whether the expense qualifies as FO assistance.


I had the same thought. Until the meals are actually distributed, there's no way to determine if the recipients would qualify for FO assistance.

jdlessley wrote:There should be a recipient name since the purpose of FO assistance is for a family or an individual. While the wiki is not definitive guidance, the Fast offering guidance section of the Expensesarticle states that "Each check written for fast offering purposes must specify a recipient." The audit checklist also states in the details for each transaction tested that for payments from fast offerings, include the name of the person assisted.


Where can I find a copy of the audit checklist?

jdlessley wrote:I would not use this as a guide for the acceptability of this action. Was it written up in the audit? If it wasn't, did the auditor even examine this particular expense as one of the tested transactions?


No, it wasn't written up in audit and no, I don't believe the auditor examined the expense.

jdlessley wrote:One of the purposes of an audit is to identify misuse of funds or fraud. In my opinion this is misuse of funds if any meals are provided to anyone who does not qualify for FO assistance. And as I stated earlier recipients of compassionate service would not necessarily qualify for fast offering assistance.


Thanks for the feedback.

steveheath
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Postby steveheath » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:56 pm

TinMan wrote:I think you are depriving visiting teachers, home teachers, and neighbors blessings by not letting them render compassionate service.


The meals are not intended to replace all acts of compassionate service. VTs and HTs will continue rendering CS. These meals are intended to be used in situations that require swift action. The sisters involved in preparing the meals will in no doubt be blessed for having given of their time and energy.

steveheath
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Postby steveheath » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:58 pm

Thanks for all of the responses. I will share some of your feedback with my bishop. At the end of the day, he is the one that ultimately decides how the expense is to handled.

TinMan
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Postby TinMan » Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:08 pm

steveheath wrote:These meals are intended to be used in situations that require swift action.


I thought that is why Little Ceasar's was invented.

:)

allenjpl
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Postby allenjpl » Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:39 pm

steveheath wrote:Where can I find a copy of the audit checklist?


On the audit, of course!:)

You locate the most recent version of the ward audit by opening up "Other Resources" , or it could be "Other forms," on the MLS menu bar. One of the options is the audit forms.


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