Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Gene Sullivan


Religious Not for Profits, Internal Controls, Fraud Detection, Fraud Deterrence, Fraud Awareness, Fraud Deterrent Tools


Accounting | Business


This study examined the inability of leaders of religious not-for-profit organizations (RNPOs) in New Jersey to identify and implement adequate accounting internal controls to detect and deter accounting fraud. Fraud affects all organizations negatively, including those that are religiously altruistic with good intentions. This study argued that protecting the organization’s resources rests primarily upon the shoulders of its leaders. Previous studies argued that philanthropic organizations were more prone to fraud because of poor management, enormous trust in their employees, and poor internal accounting controls. This multi-case qualitative study studied ten RNPO leaders, validating and contradicting some previous findings of not-for-profit organizations. The conceptual framework utilized in this study was a competency-based leadership model, tone at the top or self-concept maintenance theory, the fraud triangle theory, the diamond fraud theory, and the COSO framework. The researcher used a 25-question interview guide to collect the data. The study results found larger RNPOs with larger budgets, and staff tend to have more reliable internal accounting controls, and leaders of these organizations had more specialized accounting education or experience. There were two outliers to these findings. Two organizations had larger parent organizations that oversaw all accounting functions of their local offices. The parent companies ensured that there were robust internal accounting controls. This study pointed out a few implications. Organizations need to employ a CPA or a financial professional, raise fraud awareness, and develop continuous fraud training for key leaders. Finally, RNPOs need to create and articulate their fraud policies.

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