Employees at nonprofits and philanthropic organizations are generally assumed to be of upstanding character, as they often take less competitive salaries for the sake of helping others. However, the lack of oversight that sometimes besets small, tight-knit operations can result in abuse of funds by trusted staff.
According to WECT, Wendy Perdue of Hampstead, N.C., was charged in October with embezzling $68,000 from the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, her former employer. Allegedly, she did so by creating a checking account in the organization's name without authorization. Purdue is accused of having retained sole control of the account and depositing donations into it that should have gone elsewhere.
"We are embarrassed and devastated," remarked Wanda Bass, publicity chair for the Hanover, N.C., chapter of Relay for Life, according to the news source. "We hope this does not have a negative impact on our ability to provide … services," she went on to say.
More recently, Star News reported that Perdue pleaded guilty to three of the 10 counts with which she was charged and agreed to repay the American Cancer Society the $68,000. She faces 25 days in jail and three years of probation.
Putting accounts payable audits in place can help small organizations ensure that a setback like this one doesn't hamper their efforts to do meaningful work.