Legality of copying donor checks

by Jim
(Chapel Hill, NC USA)

In order to facilitate the ability to record donor information, we copy donor checks, place them in a bank safety sealed pouch, and hand them to our church accountant who enters the donor information into the software off site, then returns the copies of the checks to us.

We then keep them in a locked file cabinet until after our quarterly statements to donors are mailed as a means of being able to quickly check for any discrepancies.

Recently, a church member shared that she was uncomfortable with her donor check being copied because of concerns about identity theft, even going to far as to suggest it was illegal.

So what do you think?

I know of several churches that do this, but do you see problems with this process or have ideas about a better solution?


It is not illegal that I know of (not saying it is not...just could not find anything about it being illegal).

However, I can tell you that if the unthinkable happened such as the church being broke into or the accountant having an accident and the copies of the checks were stolen...the church could be held responsible for any loss your donors might incur.

Maybe there is a better method of recording donors’ checks...especially if it is making some of your donors uncomfortable.

We record the required information from our donors’ checks on our count summary sheet. The checks are stamped "For Deposit Only" immediately and locked in a safe until they are deposited.

The count summary is given to the church secretary to record donor’s contributions and then the count sheets are locked in a filing cabinet...but they only have the donor’s name, check number and amount...not the routing and account number...which is what probably concerns your church member. you have a better solution? Please click the comment link below and share with Jimmy how you handle your donor checks.

Hope this helps,

Church Accounting Package

Comments for Legality of copying donor checks

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Finance Manager
by: Ann Mohr

Now that banks keep digital records of every check you deposit, it is not necessary to keep any more information than the name, check number and amount. Should you need more, the check is available on the bank's website if you click on your the deposit in which it was recorded.

Check Images
by: David Warlick

If you deposit the checks at an ATM machine in the bank's parking lot, the machine will give you the option to have images printed on your deposit slip. Choose that option. Since the deposit slips tend to fade, photocopy the deposit slip. In my experience, you will need to snip the deposit slip after every third check to have a strip that is less than 11.5" tall (the height of photocopy paper). The images will not have the RTN or DAN. Take some Elmer's glue and paste the appropriate image on the back of each donation form. When dry, staple together every donation form that goes with the deposit slip, and keep this for the auditor. You could make additional copies for other users, such as your contributions keypuncher.

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