Author: Jim Ulvog

Feature length Cartoons, Internal control, Scenes from cartoons, Selected text

Free book for pastors of local churches

UPDATE: Offer will expire on December 31, 2011.

I stopped the free book offer at the end of 2011.  This short fable is the basis for the cartoons you see on this blog. The book is now available at Amazon in Kindle format for $0.99. Click here.


Update:  This book is now available on Amazon for $USD 0.99.  Free offer will expire on December 31, 2011.

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Exit interview with reporter – story from the book


The exit interview with the reporter in cartoon 4 is based on this text from the book Once Upon Internal Control:

                After some pleasantries, the pastor let the reporter look through any of the documentation she wished. For his air travel, the billing detail on the credit card statements showed the departure and destination locations. It was very easy to determine how far in advance the tickets were purchased. From that information, it was obvious to the reporter that all of the travel was at coach rates. From the hotel receipts and expense reports, the reporter could tell that the rooms were economical and the meals were modestly priced. The expense reports—always such a nuisance to fill out, but required by church policy—listed the purpose of each trip, travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, and with whom the pastor ate. With all these details, each trip was easily put into context.

The pastor and bookkeeper were in the room but only had to answer a few questions. After looking through the documentation, it became clear to the reporter that her source was not believable. With the accusations thoroughly disproved, the reporter left satisfied. The next article in the paper about the church described a new mission outreach to the community.


Internal control

Essentials of Internal Control – full article


Here is the full text of my article, Essentials of Internal Control, appearing in Church Management News from Bank of the West.  The online article is here.

The article discusses three key ideas:

  • The bookkeeper should not sign checks
  • Trust is NOT an internal control
  • Review unopened bank statement by someone outside of accounting

Essentials of Internal Control

By James L. Ulvog, CPA

The business administrator of a nearby church has been formally charged with embezzling close to $1 million over four years, according to a recent newspaper article. Few details are publicly available. I have friends who worship there, so this hits close to home. I grieve for my friends, the congregation, believers whose faith has been shaken, and even the accused man and his family.

Last year, the bookkeeper of a women’s shelter in my area was sentenced to one year in prison for embezzlement. The executive director of the center was quoted in a newspaper article as saying the shelter had to sell one of their several houses in order to keep operating. The director said eighty women and their children were denied services.

I was going to start this article with a rational appeal to logic as the way to encourage more emphasis on internal controls in our churches. Instead, I would like you to ponder the devastation that follows in the wake of a disaster that can arise from a breakdown in internal controls. The previous reports are only two examples. One of the main goals of developing internal control is to prevent these situations. I could tell you of many more tragedies. A few moments of searching the internet will find dozens of stories.


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Good controls protect from false accusations


The following text from Once Upon Internal Control is the background for Cartoon #3:

The reporter calls

About a year after the bookkeeper started, a newspaper reporter called to talk to the office manager. The reporter said she had credible information that the pastor was flying first class to his occasional speaking engagements. The reporter had indications from the same source that the pastor was really living it up during those trips. She wanted the church’s reaction to this rumor.


Scenes from cartoons

Internal controls can protect the innocent from false accusations – cartoon #3


Another cartoon is up.  Southside Community Church is blindsided by false accusations when a reporter calls for a comment. Fortunately, they have good procedures and internal controls that prove the accusations are fabricated.

When a reporter calls, good procedures save the day:


Previous cartoons:

This cartoon is based on the text from Once Upon Internal Control found here.