Little League® Coffers Are a Prime Target for Embezzlers
Car washes, candy sales, and raffles are staples of a typical local Little League® fundraising plan. Leagues also rely on the generosity and trust of sponsors within the community, and the understanding of parents and fellow Little League volunteers to help keep their program financially solvent. If not careful, that can present a problem as Board members entrusted with managing the league’s finances have taken improper and illegal liberties.
“While most local league’s finances are handled properly, we do get calls from leagues in financial hardship because something happened behind the scenes that no one had any idea about,” said Melissa Singer, Little League Vice President and Treasurer. “What’s disappointing is it’s so easy to place simple procedures to protect local leagues.”
The league’s size, location, or financial status do not seem to influence the amounts being embezzled, but what does seem to be consistent is the lack of care and level of attention that leagues have with their bank accounts.
“It is the responsibility of the local league’s Board of Directors to provide the proper oversight to ensure that all revenues and expenditures are accounted for and recorded properly,” said Mrs. Singer. “Just because the process is managed by the Treasurer, the Board should not assume everything is being handled properly.”
Follow these simple tips to protect your league.
- The responsibilities of a League Treasurer must not be placed solely with one person. One method of protection involves having checks that require two signatures. However, the two Board members with access to the league’s accounts should never be a League President and Treasurer who also are related.
- Leagues should set up an audit committee to review and verify receipts in the normal course of the season. There are typically three major sources of revenue – registration, concessions, and a large fundraiser. The audit committee should look over the books on a monthly basis for the months when these events take place. During the rest of the year, reviewing once or twice is sufficient.
- Keeping good financial records involves showing the monies generated and explains how it was used. A backup ledger or spreadsheet for operating costs also gives leagues a second point of reference that details all revenues and expenses that can be used to validate financial statements.
- Take the extra time to ensure all receipts are accounted for properly by creating procedures that have multiple people counting money.
- Be transparent with the funds coming in and money going out. Share the budget and monthly reports with the Board members.
- Review of the Local League Accounting Procedure is strongly encouraged.
“Raising money is vital to keeping a Little League running,” said Mrs. Singer. “As a parent or a league volunteer, I would advise checking the paperwork regularly to make sure every penny is accounted for.”
Loyalty and volunteerism have made Little League a cornerstone of communities throughout the world, but to ensure the long-term prosperity and viability of the program, scrutiny and character must be part of the equation when voting on Board members. Never underestimate the power of greed, or the depths of desperation a person may use to rationalize commitment of a crime.