All offerings in church, including retiring collections, are subject to the rules laid down by the PCC (Powers) Measure 1956. The amount must be recorded in the Church Service Book, passed through the church accounts, and administered by the Treasurer on behalf of the PCC. All such monies are subject to the annual independent examination or audit.
The PCC jointly with the Incumbent determines how offerings are to be allocated (PCC (Powers) Measure 1956 para 7 (iv)). If there is disagreement, the Bishop may be asked to direct (PCC (Powers) Measure 1956 para 9 (iii)).
The Churchwardens are the proper officers to collect the offering, either alone or with the aid of the sidesmen or other persons selected by them, and, where they are not themselves the Treasurer, they hand over the money to the Treasurer.
Offerings at Holy Communion
Money given at services of Holy Communion, whether according to the Book of Common Prayer or Common Worship, forms part of the general funds of the PCC. The PCC has power jointly with the Incumbent to determine the objects to which all money given or collected in church shall be allocated.
Offerings at Licensings and Confirmations
The Bishop has the right to say whether there shall be an offering at any service conducted. The Bishop generally asks that offerings taken at Licensing services are allocated to the Bath & Wells Ordination Fund and that offerings at Confirmation services are allocated to the Zambia Link Fund. In order to ensure the Diocese can claim GASDS and Gift Aid on these collections, there are special Gift Aid envelopes and a record sheet which are distributed by Sue Whitehead in the Stewardship team at the Old Deanery.
Collections at Funerals
A PCC can agree that collections in church at funeral services and other occasional services can go to charities and causes nominated by the family concerned. An officiating minister cannot agree to such requests without the authority of the PCC.
It is good practice for collections taken at funerals in church to be dealt with through the PCC account. The cash should be counted by two people (as for other collections), banked and a cheque drawn payable to the named charity. This should be sent without undue delay either directly to the charity or via the funeral directors, together with any envelopes addressed to the charity (unopened).
The Treasurer should keep a record identifying the service or occasion, the amount collected and the purpose/name of recipient charity. You will also need a control record to ensure all monies collected have been passed on. The PCC are acting as agent for the charity concerned, so the amounts are not recorded as income in the financial statements nor in the registers, unless the money is given directly to the Church or the PCC makes the decision as to the use to which it should be put.
Some funeral directors prefer to place a bowl or box for donations in church and to deal with the money given. If the PCC decides to allow this practice, they should be mindful that in doing so they have delegated their responsibility to control the collections under the PCC (Powers) Measure 1956..
Money placed in Alms Boxes
Alms placed in the alms box (which should be provided in every parochial church and chapel) are to be applied to such uses as the Incumbent and PCC think fit, and if they disagree the Bishop is to determine how the alms are to be disposed.
Weekly Counting of Offerings
The recommended weekly counting process is as follows:
- Two people, who are independent of one another, should be present throughout the counting, recording and bagging of offerings. It is preferable that this responsibility is rotated rather than having regular teams of two.
- Planned giving envelopes should be opened and the amount of cash marked on each envelope (for the planned giving records). The same applies to ‘one-off’ Gift Aid envelopes.
- Cash eligible for the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) – ie cash or contactless (from 6 April 2018) donations each up to and including £30 which are not eligible for Gift Aid – should be recorded separately from any cash donations in excess of £30.
- Total cash should be entered in a duplicate book, kept in the vestry and accessible to the incumbent and churchwardens. The duplicate slip should be signed by both persons making the count. The top copy should be placed in the bag with the money to which it relates. The separate totals of loose cash and envelopes should be entered in the Vestry Service Book
- After bagging, the money should be placed in a safe until collected for banking.
- Slips should be attached to the voucher supporting the banking (see Banking) and retained for audit.
- Cash for banking should not be used to make cash payments. (If cash payments need to be made regularly, the PCC should consider authorising a Petty Cash facility).
NOTE: In some churches, collections are placed in the safe immediately after each service and counted at the end of the day or at a later stage. Whilst this is sometimes a necessity, it is important that two people count the money.
Cash from offerings, alms boxes, etc should only be placed in a safe to which no more than one person (ideally a Churchwarden) other than the Treasurer has a key.
Contactless Card Readers
The National Stewardship Team have kindly provided us with a set of price comparison charts to help advise churches on the best options for contactless card readers / donation machines. These can be found on the Stewardship pages.