Fast Offering Disbursments...

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cdawardclerk-p40
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Fast Offering Disbursments...

Postby cdawardclerk-p40 » Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:51 pm

We write many Fast Offering checks over the course of a year. Most are to ward members and some are to transients on their way through town. I try to request receipts from those ward members we help. Many comply but some don't. Are we required to have evidence of a fast offering expense as part of the record keeping? I know the training makes a point of mentioning this requirement for budget expenses and I make sure this is complied with but for fast offering expenses the instructions are not as clear. I would appreciate some direction on this issue. Thank you.

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Postby jdlessley » Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:56 pm

cdawardclerk wrote:Are we required to have evidence of a fast offering expense as part of the record keeping?
The short answer is yes.

cdawardclerk wrote:I know the training makes a point of mentioning this requirement for budget expenses and I make sure this is complied with but for fast offering expenses the instructions are not as clear.
The training does not differentiate between budget expenses and fast-offering expenses. All expenses are treated the same. The training video merely uses some budget types of expenses as an example to explain the process and procedures. You may want to go through the training again with that in mind. You can also review the unit financial audit form, item 26, to see what an auditor will be looking for. You can review or print the audit form by clicking on "Church Audits..." in the "Other Resources" pane of MLS. This is partly what item 26 says:
Every expenditure, including any advance given for any purpose, should have original receipts, invoices, or similar notices of amounts due or already paid. A check request document alone is not adequate. If an original receipt or invoice is lost, the substiture documentation should include a written explanation of the payment purpose, a statement or description of the goods or services acquired, the period the payment applies to, the name of the person who assisted (for fast offering payments), corroborating signatures (such as signatures of payees and beneficiaries), and so on. ... Recipients of fast offerings should submit receipts to show how they spent any significant amounts given directly to them. When possible, expenditures of fast-offering funds should be made directly to the providers of goods and services rather than to recipients.
(Bold added for emphasis.)
Fast-offering expenditures are more susceptible to misuse and abuse than budget expenditures and therefore auditors are instructed to look for specific signs of potential problems. Without the appropriate records -check requests, invoices and receipts (or suitable substitute) - there is no way to prove an expenditure was in accordance with Church policy and procedure. Keeping these records are part of the procedures designed to protect Church funds and those who handle the funds.
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:14 pm

cdawardclerk wrote:We write many Fast Offering checks over the course of a year. Most are to ward members


Are the checks themselves written to ward members? I was under the impression that as much as possible the check should be written to cover the bill rather then reimburse the member.

As for the receipts - that's only as far as the bishop is willing to push the issue. I'll bet if the bishop were to say "I'm sorry, but I need the receipt for the last expense before writing another check" you'd have no problems getting receipts. ;)
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cdawardclerk-p40
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Postby cdawardclerk-p40 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:26 pm

jdlessley wrote:The short answer is yes.

The training does not differentiate between budget expenses and fast-offering expenses. All expenses are treated the same. The training video merely uses some budget types of expenses as an example to explain the process and procedures. You may want to go through the training again with that in mind. You can also review the unit financial audit form, item 26, to see what an auditor will be looking for. You can review or print the audit form by clicking on "Church Audits..." in the "Other Resources" pane of MLS. This is partly what item 26 says:(Bold added for emphasis.)
Fast-offering expenditures are more susceptible to misuse and abuse than budget expenditures and therefore auditors are instructed to look for specific signs of potential problems. Without the appropriate records -check requests, invoices and receipts (or suitable substitute) - there is no way to prove an expenditure was in accordance with Church policy and procedure. Keeping these records are part of the procedures designed to protect Church funds and those who handle the funds.

jdlessly,

"Recipients of fast offerings should submit receipts to show how they spent any significant amounts..." What is meant by significant amounts? An amount greater than $100? Also, what do I do for transients that we give money to for gas, food, etc.? Many of these people are never seen again.

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Postby cdawardclerk-p40 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:35 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Are the checks themselves written to ward members? I was under the impression that as much as possible the check should be written to cover the bill rather then reimburse the member.

As for the receipts - that's only as far as the bishop is willing to push the issue. I'll bet if the bishop were to say "I'm sorry, but I need the receipt for the last expense before writing another check" you'd have no problems getting receipts. ;)

RussellHtn,

No...the checks are never written to ward members or nonmembers. Always to a business such as a utility company, rental management, landlord, etc. You are right...the bishop should require receipts but sometimes he forgets to make a point of it to the recipient. Like I said in my original message that we do get a fair number of 'transients' tat we help but they almost never return with a receipt. What to do?

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Postby 1historian-p40 » Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:39 am

I know that in our ward in addition to whatever else we do with Fast Offering checks we have the person who is receiving the assistance sign a receipt stating the amount and the cause so that we have some sort of paper work showing that there was a legitimate assistance request.

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Postby aebrown » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:34 am

cdawardclerk wrote:The checks are never written to ward members or nonmembers. Always to a business such as a utility company, rental management, landlord, etc. You are right...the bishop should require receipts but sometimes he forgets to make a point of it to the recipient. Like I said in my original message that we do get a fair number of 'transients' tat we help but they almost never return with a receipt. What to do?


The best practice (and I know it is sometimes difficult) is to get the invoice up front. How do you know what the amount of the check is? There must be some sort of paperwork requesting payment. In my experience, those people who are requesting assistance are much more motivated to provide paperwork before they receive the check. Once the payment has been made, their only motivation is to help a financial clerk with some arcane audit requirement, but before the payment is made, they really want the financial help.

So whenever it is possible, have the recipient provide the invoice, a copy of the rental agreement, etc. up front. This should be the standard practice. Not only will that give you a receipt for audit purposes, but it makes it more likely that the check is made out accurately to the proper payee, with the correct address, and for the proper amount.

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Postby lajackson » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:31 am

Alan_Brown wrote:The best practice (and I know it is sometimes difficult) is to get the invoice up front.


Our biggest challenge is the occasional rent payment. Along with the check, most of our ward clerks include a self-addressed return envelope and a short statement asking the landlord to acknowledge receipt of the payment. Most landlords are willing to return a receipt when the envelope to do it in is already there.

cdawardclerk-p40
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Postby cdawardclerk-p40 » Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:44 am

1historian wrote:I know that in our ward in addition to whatever else we do with Fast Offering checks we have the person who is receiving the assistance sign a receipt stating the amount and the cause so that we have some sort of paper work showing that there was a legitimate assistance request.

1historian;

This might be a great solution for those 'transients' that are being helped with small amounts of fast offerings. They usually need money for food or gas and never return with a receipt. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Postby jdlessley » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:32 pm

cdawardclerk wrote:jdlessly,

"Recipients of fast offerings should submit receipts to show how they spent any significant amounts..." What is meant by significant amounts? An amount greater than $100?
There must always be something filed with the reimbursement request and check stub that provides information as to the nature of the expense. In some situations receipts or invoices are not possible because the vendor/retailer/provider just does not provide one. The instructions are saying that a concerted effort should be applied to getting a receipt or invoice involving a significant amount rather than accepting a suitable substitute as a matter of routine. There is no specified amount identified as to what a significant amount is. Since your bishop is ultimately responsible for the funds I would counsel with him as to what he thinks a significant amount is. You may also ask your stake clerk for finances, a stake auditor, or the audit committee chairman. For me, as a financial auditor, I generally consider the nature of the expense in determining what is significant. Your guess at $100 might be a good choice for most situations. Rent might be a bit higher.

If there is no receipt or invoice then a suitable substitute is required. A suitable substitute can be a hand written explanation from the fast-offering recipient/beneficiary with all the pertinent information on it - date of expense, purpose or nature of expense, payee (person or entity to whom the payment was made), and beneficiary (person the payment was made for). The instructions also state that signatures of all parties involved should be included where practicable. However, in many situations it may be quite difficult or even impossible to get the signature of the payee (landlords are notorious in my area for not providing invoices or receipts and for not signing anything). At least the signature of the beneficiary should be provided.

cdawardclerk wrote:Also, what do I do for transients that we give money to for gas, food, etc.? Many of these people are never seen again.
In this case a suitable substitute as described above is adequate. For all expenses, whether fast-offering or budget, there should be a reciept, invoice or suitable substitute filed with the reimbursement request and the check stub.

A little story...
We had a bishop write a check for a homeless transient requesting gas money. Instead of writing the check to the requestor he wrote it to a specific gas station thinking he would avoid the transient using the money for alcohol or cigarettes. As an after thought the bishop called the gas station to see if the transient did indeed buy gas with the check. The transient only used a small portion for gas and the rest was spent on beer and cigarettes. The bishop now calls ahead to ensure the funds are spent as intended.
JD Lessley
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