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Prevent Theft During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for giving. During the holidays, charitable giving and donations of toys, clothes, food and other items increases. According to Charity Navigator’s 2015 Online Giving Trends report, significantly more people donate money online in December, with an average contribution amount of $188.

Unfortunately, the risk of theft also increases this time of year. “It’s sad but true that some people want to take advantage of others’ giving moods,” says Tom Strong, ARM, senior loss control manager at GuideOne Insurance.

I talked with Strong about ways to protect the gifts your organization receives to ensure they’re used for their intended purpose – to help others. Here’s what he recommends:

Create a sample display. Organizations like to promote people’s generosity by displaying items that have been donated. To highlight generosity without attracting thieves, wrap several empty boxes to display under your giving tree, or only display a few donated items paired with many wrapped. “There’s no real reason to pile gifts up until the day you’re distributing them,” Strong says.

Keep gifts out of sight. Place money and gift cards in a safe or locked cabinet until it’s ready to be dispersed, and lock gifts in a closet or other secure location.

Use the buddy system. Any money you receive should be collected, counted, deposited and reported by two or more unrelated, trustworthy individuals. Rotate your financial team often.  “It shouldn’t be a one-man show,” Strong says.

Don’t tempt thieves. Avoid placing giving trees and gifts near entrances where someone can easily grab a package or item and walk out with it.