Are you a Business Manager or a Parole Officer?

I understand that small organizations, especially non-profit organizations, have a need to tightly control their flow of funds.  If you’re dealing with a new “contractor” for the first time, I can understand wanting to make sure that you don’t get burned by some con artist trying to squeeze more than was agreed upon out of your organization.

However, once your organization has a working and ongoing relationship with someone, especially over more than a year, it’s time to assume a certain level of trust.

This is particularly true if your organization paid the wrong amount–say $420 instead of $240.  I would expect the at fault party to assume the risk in correcting the mistake as soon as possible.

This is especially true if your contractor was the one who called you to let you know that you wrote a check for too much.   That’s pretty insulting to someone’s intelligence and integrity to make them mail back or drop off a check for the wrong amount before writing a check for the right amount.  If theft was the motive, it be easier for the contractor to play dumb and just deposit the check for the wrong amount.

Some other, less offensive ways of dealing with accidentally paying too much to a repeat contractor:

  • If you still don’t trust the person to return the check at his or her next convenience, you could issue a stop payment on the incorrect check.  You’re spending $30 to save $180 in this case, but at least the evil contractor that you regularly trust to do a job won’t steal from you in such an obvious way.
  • Considering you have more work assigned to the contractor, consider a credit for future services instead.

Bottom line, if you’ve hired someone for thousands of dollars worth of services over the years, and have more services scheduled for that person, is it worth creating a breakdown in trust because you made an error?  If you don’t trust the contractor, why is this person doing any work for your organization after all of this time?