Sump Pumps

Flooded Floor

Flooded Floor

The start of spring is a welcome change for many of us.  The warmer temperatures, melting snow and spring rains herald the start of a vibrant new season.  The old saying, “April showers bring May flowers” can be heard throughout the month.  So, what better time than the spring season to inspect and care for your sump pump.  Water is best kept outdoors and not in your church basement! Please note a professional inspection is always best.  But, here are a few suggestions and visual tests for a quick self-evaluation.

  1. Inspect the outside water distribution pipes for debris and damage.
  2. Inspect the interior tubes, pipes and connections.  Are there signs of a slow leak, build-up or clogs in the evacuation pipes?
  3. Is the float operating properly?  It is what triggers the pump to start working.  Perform simple tests to see if the float freely rises and activates the sump pump.
  4. Consider purchasing a battery back-up system. This can allow your sump pump to remain functional in the event of a power outage.  Often big storms capable of producing power outages are also capable of producing heavy rain. It’s a simple added layer of protection.
  5. Consider the benefits of an alarm.  This type of system can detect when water rises to a dangerous level sounding a high decibel beep to alert you to a problem.  The technology also exists to connect the alarm signal to your phone for text warnings, etc.

Sometimes we overlook simple pieces of equipment in our buildings.  Yet, these hold great value when needed.  A simple inspection is a great way to stay ahead of any issues that may impact your sump pump’s ability to perform.
This article courtesy of our friends a Church Underwriters Inc.

Protecting your Insurance Program – 3 tips

Safety  Who would ever think it would be important to protect your insurance program? After all, insurance is supposed to protect us, right? Isn’t that what insurance is for? Well, more and more churches and religious organizations are finding the market place is shrinking and that insurance carriers are becoming more demanding and even dropping policies when the church doesn’t comply with recommendations or when there is a high frequency of claims. Just since the start of 2017, we have received calls from nearly a dozen churches who were losing their coverage due to claims. Why all the changes?

[Read more…]

Ordinance or Law Coverage

Modern church buildingOrdinance or Law coverage is confusing to most insurance policy holders. It could be the critical coverage that allows your church to fully rebuild following a loss and it may help keep your congregation in the process. Mitch Smith with the Charles L Crane agency answers common questions about this strangely named coverage.

[Read more…]

Should you offer Wi-Fi at your Church?

mobile phoneShould You Offer Free Wi‑Fi at Church?

Most people today have at least one smart device, using them to stay connected wherever they go.  To help make this easier for consumers, many businesses are now granting access to their own Wi-Fi networks so people can continue to use their devices without paying for data.

[Read more…]

Church Parking Lot Maintenance & Tips

This article on parking lot maintenance is courtesy of Rich Hughes with Holloran Contracting, St. Louis Mo.

Church Parking

Church Parking

Proper asphalt parking lot maintenance is the key to keeping your pavement safe, accessible, and as trouble free as possible. No pavement has been constructed that does not require maintenance.  Unfortunately, too many organizations learn too late that regularly scheduled, proper maintenance could have delayed or prevented costly total parking lot replacement.

Now that we’re coming off winter it’s time to perform a parking lot inspection. I encourage you, or your maintenance personnel to walk all areas of your parking lot.  Signs of wear to look for include:

[Read more…]

The Zika Virus: What you should know

Passport

Passport

The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus, is spreading explosively in the Americas, according to a recent statement from the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern on Feb. 1 because of the recent outbreak. In January, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) issued travel guidance for those planning trips to affected countries, including Mexico and much of Central and South America. The territory of Puerto Rico also has declared a health emergency. The travel guidance includes enhanced precautions against mosquito bites and suggests that pregnant women consider postponing travel to affected areas at this time.

 

[Read more…]

Water Damage at Your Church

Flooded Floor

Flooded Floor

You have just discovered water damage inside the church. After the shock of seeing the damage and finding the cause you wonder, will our insurance policy cover this? The answer depends on a number of factors, most importantly, how did the water get there? In this article, we will discuss several options and how a typical commercial insurance policy would respond.

[Read more…]

Most Common Church Claims

Insurance Policy

Insurance Policy

The Most Common Church Claims And How to Protect Against Them

If your church is like many others, it probably has a limited budget, the staff is busy with ministry activities and it is difficult to take on additional responsibilities. This can be an issue when it comes to risk management, improving safety for congregants and enhancing your facility’s security. Over the last several years, the most common causes of loss in a church are as follows:

[Read more…]

Easy Tips to prevent Fraud

Fraud

Fraud

Many churches conduct their work with limited funding, and some rely on volunteers to perform key roles. When you review and discuss internal controls church leaders are often surprised to learn that small improvements can go a long way in preventing theft of assets and unsubstantiated spending, two of the most common types of fraud in not-for-profits.

These small steps cost your church nothing and can make a big difference in preventing church fraud:

 

 

 

 

1. Send the unopened bank statement to a church employee/member who does not have check signing authority, and make sure they know how to properly review it. Take the case of a small church with poor internal controls. They discovered the bookkeeper had been using the church’s funds for personal purposes, rationalizing that he would pay them back at some point. Since he reconsiled the bank statements he was able to hide the theft for months. If the bank statements and disbursements, along with the cleared checks, had been reviewed properly, these issues would have been detected immediately.

2. Increase controls over credit cards to prevent unauthorized spending. Not all churches use credit cards, but inappropriate spending on credit cards is a common type of church fraud. Be sure someone is responsible to check the credit card statements each month. Verify the balance due, the payment due and verify the payment just made. Make sure all old cards and accounts are closed. Be sure terminated employees and volunteers who no longer serve in key financial positions no longer have access to church credit cards.

3. Enlist one member of Church management to hold the organization accountable for its spending. Some churches do not have the funding for excess or surplus spending. However, someone should still be responsible to review the church’s spending habits. With no one to review spending, areas such office supplies can increase beyond the budget. There should be a thorough review of all spending by the governing committee. They should ask questions about budget, financial statements and future expenditures.

4. Prevent mishandling of donations. If your church receives contributions each week intended for specific spending areas inside your church (Building fund or the local Food Pantry for example) have two volunteers document the donations intended purpose. Having a single person document these donations could result in the funds being directed to the wrong account where oversight may not be as close.

5. If possible, require a mandatory one week vacation for those involved in financial functions. Cross-train staff to ensure that others can fulfill absent employee/volunteer duties while they are away. Oftentimes, fraud is uncovered when an individual is unable to cover his or her tracks. This recommendation is not an HR policy but rather an internal control that allows for detection of fraudulent activity in the absence of the employee. For example, fraud can be uncovered when another employee assumes the task of reconciling bank statements and finds unauthorized, fraudulent disbursements. It’s ok to be suspicious of anyone who refuses to cooperate.

Summary

The best way to mitigate fraud risk is to create a strong internal control system. As Church Leaders it is crucial that you exercise professional skepticism in your leadership responsibililties. You must carefully observe and question financial information to strengthen controls at your Church so that your mission is what make the headlines, not the fraudulent activity taking place behind closed doors.

[Read more…]

Steps to prevent violence in your Church

church in crisisWhile church violence has increased over the years, our churches remain a place of peace and worship. The recent shooting in South Carolina has many churches asking if this could happen to them and what they would do if it did. Most churches will never experience a single act of violence but the responsibility for safety is on the church’s leadership. Perhaps a more important question to ask is what steps can we take to prevent it happening to us?. A sound plan to protect your congregation is the first step to keeping them safe.

[Read more…]