Question: fundraising and financial controls

Our group is missing a large amount of money from a recent PTO sponsored event. There were many mistakes made in handling money the night of the event. How should we investigate? What suggestions do you have on preventing money issues in the future?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
There are a few simple ways to protect your cash whenever you're handling money. First of all, limit the number of points where money is being handled. If possible, have only one cash station. For example, if you're having a carnival, sell tickets at a single location rather than have people take money at each booth. That format can work for a lot of different events. If you're selling food at several stations, make the cost of each item a number of tickets rather than a dollar figure. Second, always have more than one person present when cash is being handled. Having a second person helps reduce mistakes that confusion or tiredness can cause when things get hectic. It also makes it far less likely that someone will be tempted to take some of the money, since it significantly increases the risk of getting caught. Theft is a crime of opportunity. If you leave someone alone with money and have no way of tracking how much is taken in, you're creating a lot of opportunity. The article Handling Cash: 6 Simple Steps offers some more tips that will help. As far as figuring out what happened to your money, the best way to investigate is to follow the paper trail, if you have one. Figure out how much money was taken in at each spot and how much was accounted for. Pinpoint where the discrepancy came from, then talk to the people who handled the money in that location. This may be a situation that you have to put down to a lesson learned. Even if you figure out who was responsible for the missing money, you likely won't have any way of knowing for certain whether honest mistakes were made or something else was involved. You will know, however, that you don't want that person handling money in the future. Good luck.

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