The spirit of giving tugs at our hearts during the holiday season. We fill the toy containers at various reception points for various charities. We give our cash graciously to the bell ringers and cash collection charity boxes attached to the drive thru's and front counters of our local favorite restaurants and retailers so that those less fortunate may benefit. We are a giving society.
The holiday season also brings about burglaries to the facilities that are collecting those unwrapped toys, thefts of collection pots on street corners in broad daylight, and of course the misappropriation of collected funds earmarked for charities.
If you are on the collection side of cash collection boxes, the vulnerabilities to embezzlement of those funds are particularly high if there are no, or very limited controls in place. If the donations are misappropriated, the donors' cash and intentions are stolen as well. The charitable efforts of the business are maligned; but more importantly, the intended recipients are denied better circumstances.
There are a few actions to ensure charitable contributions make it to their intended destiny:
The cash collection container should be equipped with a lock with a controlled key.
Physically secure the container to an immovable object (counter).
Establish a separate accounting line item for collected funds.
If charitable funds are collected through the POS system, have established policies, procedures and training for cashiers.
If the cash collection container is outside (drive-thru window) remove the cash frequently during the business day.
Empty the cash collection containers daily.
Assign accountability for collection and documentation of funds.
If your business is collecting at several locations, compare amounts collected.
Audit amounts collected and audit for unusual activity.
Collecting donations for charity, particularly during the holiday season can be cathartic for employees and benevolent as a business. We give to our charities as a gracious, goodhearted business family. Implement the controls best suited for your business. Ensure that your collection efforts are rewarded by reaching their intended destination and not rerouted to the pocket of an unscrupulous Grinch.
D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.