Misuse of Fast Offerings?

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pronouncedlyle
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Misuse of Fast Offerings?

Postby pronouncedlyle » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:05 pm

Hi, I'm a missionary blindly playing the part of clerk in a tiny branch in the Dominican Republic. I was going through the expenditures record in MLS, and the ONLY expenditures we don't have paper records for are 3 payments made on the same day paid to "non-member", though under beneficiares it says the branch president's wife. Judging by their financial situation it would be understandable if they were recieving help, but I thought that required stake approval first? Am I overlooking something? The branch president isn't very computer competent, so would it be possible that he was trying to take out money for an activity or something and did it that way instead? How should I go about investigating the matter? Forgive my lack of experience.

-Elder Fulano

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mlh78
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Postby mlh78 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:29 pm

Call your mission president for counsel.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:46 pm

It's not clear to me if you're functioning in a Ward or a Stake (since either can have a Branch).

But with a Stake, I'd approach the Stake Clerk as he is responsible for training. In the case of a Mission, I think there would be a corresponding position. If he concludes that there is a misuse, he can take it to the President.
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crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:09 pm

pronouncedlyle wrote:...the ONLY expenditures we don't have paper records for are 3 payments made on the same day paid to "non-member", though under beneficiares it says the branch president's wife.

Embezzling funds is a serious accusation and before jumping to that conclusion, I have a couple thoughts. First, if any expense doesn't have proper documentation, it tends to be fast offering payments. The documentation is still required, but because of the situation or repeated payment for the same thing, it is sometimes overlooked. Just because documentation is not there does not mean the funds were misused.

pronouncedlyle wrote:Judging by their financial situation it would be understandable if they were receiving help, but I thought that required stake approval first?

Yes - any FO assistance to a bishop or an immediate member of his family (same for branch president) must be approved in writing by the stake president (same for district). From the audit form:
Has fast-offering assistance to the bishop or his immediate family members been approved in writing by the stake president?
• Review the disbursements on the six monthly financial statements to see if the bishop or any members of his immediate family appear to have received fast-offering assistance. (See the definition for “Immediate family members of the bishop” in Part 1: Instructions.)
• Ask the bishop if he or any members of his immediate family have received fast-offering assistance, including assistance specified on Bishop’s Order for Commodities forms.
• If the bishop or any member of his immediate family received fast-offering assistance without prior written approval from the stake president, mark this item “No.”
pronouncedlyle wrote:The branch president isn't very computer competent, so would it be possible that he was trying to take out money for an activity or something and did it that way instead?

This is only a factor if the branch president is the one who cuts the checks. If you are the clerk, it should be you (or your predecessor) doing this for him. Still, if he did cut the check himself, my first thought is that he was trying to provide support for a non-member but didn't know how to do it. He is responsible for the temporal welfare of everyone within his ward boundaries, not just members so the fact it was cut "non-member" doesn't worry me (except for how do they cash it?). It is required to select a recipient, and since the person is not a member and doesn't appear on the recipient list, he might not have known how to add the non-member so just selected his wife. It is possible he was trying to pay for an activity, but less likely.

pronouncedlyle wrote:How should I go about investigating the matter?

From the audit form
If money has been lost or stolen, or is suspected to be lost or stolen, notify the stake audit committee chairman (a counselor in the stake presidency). He or you should call the Church Auditing Department as soon as possible. Do not investigate the potential loss without receiving instructions from the Church Auditing Department.

pronouncedlyle
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Postby pronouncedlyle » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:36 pm

crislapi wrote:He is responsible for the temporal welfare of everyone within his ward boundaries, not just members so the fact it was cut "non-member" doesn't worry me (except for how do they cash it?).


I've never seen a check in this country, he just withdraws everything in cash from the branch account I think. FYI, it's a branch in a Stake. And yeah, it appears he took out fast offerings to help a sister in the branch, but failed to put in the recipient in MLS, or turn in the receipts. We're working on it. Thanks for all the help!

crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:13 pm

pronouncedlyle wrote:I've never seen a check in this country, he just withdraws everything in cash from the branch account I think. FYI, it's a branch in a Stake. And yeah, it appears he took out fast offerings to help a sister in the branch, but failed to put in the recipient in MLS, or turn in the receipts. We're working on it. Thanks for all the help!

Thank you for the follow-up. My experience is all from clerking in the US, so sorry if it's not directly applicable. I would recommend having the stake clerk provide training to your presidency and clerks on how to handle expenses. If possible, I would also suggest you have them go through the online training "Handling Church Expenses" (particularly slide 17) in english or "Como manejar los fondos de la iglesia" in spanish.. I realize the policies and screenshots shown are for the US, but the idea is the same.

It is allowable to give members money in advance (though not encouraged, especially for FO assistance). From the audit form (last bullet in particular):
Does each payment have proper documentation?
• Every payment and advance should have original receipts or invoices.
• A payment request document alone is not adequate documentation.
• If the original receipt or invoice is lost, the substitute documentation should include a written explanation with
the payment purpose, a description of what was bought or paid for, the date the payment was made, the
name of the person assisted (for payments from fast offerings), and proper approval. Such documentation
should be a rare exception. If several transactions are documented this way, mark this item “No.”
• Recipients of fast offerings should submit receipts to show how they spent funds given directly to them.
When possible, payments from fast offerings should be made directly to the providers of goods and
services rather than to persons receiving assistance.
If the receipts cannot be found, the second to last bullet explains how to handle the situation.


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