The Knowledge Center provides you access to hundreds of documents including
policies, procedures and a wealth of research on topics such as charitable gifts,
expense reimbursements, board governance, fringe benefits, and much more.
This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.
5 Ways to Model Unmistakable Integrity When Considering Giver Intent
Do donors really care if the ministry follows through with donor intent?
7 Lessons My Father Taught Me About Fundraising
Dr. Barry Corey, President of Biola University, thoughtfully shares characteristics of Godly development that were modeled by his father. His thoughtful comments will encourage anyone involved in resource development.
Acknowledgments for Auction Items
Sample acknowledgments for payments and for charitable gifts related to auctions
Asking Is Just the Beginning!
Discusses the importance and means of maintaining integrity throughout the fundraising process
Avoiding Common Fundraising Mistakes
A review of common fundraising mistakes demonstrates why raising funds is not as simple as it may appear. It requires careful planning, an understanding of the fundraising landscape, and the Lord's guidance.
Overview of fundraising banquets and the proper accounting treatment for possible elements of such an event
Benevolence Funds FAQs
Frequently asked questions and answers about benevolence funds
Beyond Giving and Getting
Discussion of the board’s role of fundraising as a ministry
Biblical Principles for Stewardship and Fundraising
Lists Biblical principles relating to stewardship and fundraising
Capital campaigns are used to raise funds for buildings, endowments, scholarships and other purposes.
Challenge and Matching Gifts
Discusses the intricacies of challenge and matching gifts
Charging an Overhead Assessment against Restricted Donations
Highlights the key issues relating to the determination of overhead rates to be applied to gifts, accounting for overhead charges, communication of overhead charges to givers, and much more
Charitable Acknowledgments Provided to Someone Other than the Giver
Outlines issues to consider when a giver requests that a charitable receipt be provided to someone else
Charitable Gift Acknowledgments for Donations
Outlines IRS requirements for acknowledgments for contributions received by a ministry
Charitable Gift Catalogs
Gift catalogs are occasionally used by charities, giving donors an opportunity to choose between many needs. This document discusses the challenges of this giving approach.
Charity Auction Implications
An overview of the tax rules relating to the donation of items to be auctioned and the items purchased at an auction
Child Adoption Fundraising and Support
Discusses items related to child adoption funding
Combined Federal Campaign
Discusses Combined Federal Campaign and eligibility requirements of nonprofit organizations
Compensation of Outside Fundraisers
Discusses ECFA’s requirements regarding compensation of outside fundraisers
A nondeductible transfer of funds to a charity that is not intended to benefit the charity, and over which the charity does not have adequate discretion and control
An unconditional transfer of cash or other assets to an entity or a settlement of cancellation of its liabilities in a voluntary nonreciprocal transfer by another entity acting other than as an owner.
Contributions for Disasters
Accountability for funds received and expended for disaster relief should be based on certain best practices.
Contributions Made by Credit Card
Credit card policy for ministries that accept donations or payments by credit card
Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes
Congress has provided special rules related to the contributions of motor vehicles, boats and airplanes. The gifts of these items may not occur frequently for you but when one of these donations is received, you need to be prepared to properly apply the rules in compliance with the law.
Contributions to Athletic Scholarship Programs
Outlines the IRS’s position on the tax deductibility of contributions to athletic scholarship programs
Outlines the IRS regulations regarding corporate sponsorship of nonprofit organizations
Ministries using this concept generally determine an amount each staff member is responsible to raise.
Deputized Fundraising – The Basics
Discusses the basics of deputized fundraising
Deputized Gift Letter
Sample deputized gift letter explaining proper ministry and accounting treatment of deputized gifts
Disaster Relief Payments
Adequate records should demonstrate the victims’ needs for the assistance provided.
Disclosure of Overhead Charges
Discusses appropriate disclosure of overhead charges on giver-restricted gifts
Distributions from 403(b) Plans
Addresses the permissible distributions from 403(b) plans and the tax consequences of non-qualified distributions
Donation of Investment Securities
Outlines the proper accounting and receipting for contributions of investment securities
Donations – A Ministry’s Responsibility to Control
Discusses how a ministry must exercise full administrative control over donated funds to ensure that they fulfill exempt purposes and programs
This document provides a definition of a donor-advised fund.
Donor-Advised Fund Used to Pay Pledge
There are potential ramifications to donors and donor-advised fund (DAF) managers who use (or “misuse”, as the case may be) a DAF to fulfill a donor’s “legally enforceable pledge.”
Effectively Handling Endowment Gifts
Outlines different types and proper accounting for endowments
Essentials of Fundraising for Schools
Fundraising for your school shouldn’t be a painful or frustrating experience. Understanding the “must haves” and the cycle of fundraising can help you as you ask others to partner financially with your school.
Explicit Gift Restriction
An explicit gift restriction occurs when a donor sends a letter, indicates a restriction on a response form, or provides other specific communication to the ministry identifying a contribution as restricted in terms of purpose or time.
Publications about a variety of fundraising issues
Here are four excellent articles on generosity: Developing a Generous Spirit: The Grace of Giving, Generosity: A Lifestyle, When Did I See You Hungry, and Sow Generosity.
Gift Acceptance Guidelines
Guidelines for a nonprofit to follow when determining what gifts should be accepted from donors
Gift Annuity Rates
Discusses gift annuity rates as recommended by the American Council on Gift Annuities
Discusses categories or gift levels that an ministry establishes to enhance giving options
Gifts of Real Estate
Guidelines for preparing a real estate gift policy
Gifts to Domestic Organizations for Foreign Use
Charitable deductions to U.S. charities, including ministries, with the gift restricted for a foreign charity are only permitted in certain situations.
Gifts to Help Ministry Participants
When an individual ultimately benefits in some way from a gift, a variety of tax issues may arise. Churches and other nonprofits must be clear in their communication and control over contributions in order to protect their donors’ tax deductions.
Giver Restrictions or Giver Preferences
The distinction between a giver's restriction and giver's preference can make the difference between the giver's eligibility for a charitable tax deduction and no tax deduction.
A giver stipulation that specifies a future and uncertain event whose occurrence or failure to occur gives the promisor a right-of-return of assets he or she has transferred, or releases the promisor from its obligation to transfer assets.
A giver-imposed stipulation that specifies a use for the contributed asset that is more specific than the broad limits imposed by the ministry’s purpose and nature.
Guidelines for Handling Funds Raised for Disasters
Contains guidelines that ministries should consider when raising disaster-related funds
How the Combined Federal Campaign Can Work for your Organization
The CFC, or Combined Federal Campaign is a federally created program designed to promote and support workplace charitable donations and philanthropy through an employee focused program. The CFC allows all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.
Implicit Gift Restriction
An implicit gift restriction occurs when there are certain circumstances surrounding the gift that makes the donor’s restriction clear even though there is no explicit gift restriction.
IRA Direct Charitable Contributions
Givers to ministries may roll over funds from IRAs tax-free.
Issuing Donation Acknowledgments Before Receiving Tax-Exempt Recognition from the IRS
When a new ministry is in the process of being formed, it is common for givers to make gifts to the ministry and to desire an acknowledgments that may be used for tax-deduction purposes. The question often arises whether and when the new ministry can legitimately issue charitable acknowledgments.
The first, usually sizable, gifts of a capital campaign
Letter from IRS, Exempt Organizations Division, January 2000
This letter from the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, while non-precedential, includes certain guidelines concerning the demonstration of discretion and control that the IRS believes should be exercised by a charity with respect to gifts raised under the deputized support-raising concept. This is the last guidance from a high-ranking IRS official on this topic.
Maximizing Generosity Through Alignment
When givers, askers and organizations submit to God's call, generosity is maximized. Then, great things are accomplished individually and corporately in the present world that result in eternal rewards.
It is important to determine if a membership fee paid to a ministry has a charitable contribution component. This document explains the rules ministries much follow in properly accounting for membership fees.
National Worker (non-U.S. worker)
A citizen, born in or naturalized in the country where a ministry conducts missionary activity.
Needy and Distressed Test
This test should include a set of criteria by which a ministry can objectively make distributions to individuals who are financially or otherwise distressed.
Noncash Charitable Gift Acknowledgments
Sample acknowledgment letters for noncash gifts
Outsourcing Gift Processing
Discusses outsourcing gift processing and addresses some potential problem areas
Ownership of Gifts
Case studies and analyses addressing nonprofit ownership of gifts
Perceptions of Fundraising Techniques
Helps a ministry determine how donors may perceive its fundraising techniques
A transfer of money or other property from one individual to another individual, voluntarily, without any obligation nor a consideration for services rendered.
Planned Giving Program Overview
Steps a ministry should take before beginning a planned giving program
Funds raised to support a group of workers instead of a particular worker.
Portrait of an Online Giver
You know that online giving is growing, perhaps you even offer it through your website, but do you know the person on the other side of the computer? Information about your donors is invaluable as you make fundraising decisions, helping you to communicate both need and gratitude more effectively.
A preference indicated by a giver expressing the giver’s wishes, desires, or advice on how or when the gift will be used but is not restricted for a specific individual.
Prohibiting the Acceptance of Restricted Gifts
A ministry's policy to prohibit the acceptance of restricted gifts only has a limited effect.
Project Reporting to Givers - Nonprofit
A donor has requested a report on how her gift was used for a certain project. What is appropriate for our ministry to provide to this donor?
Proper Care of Giver-Restricted Gifts
Giver-imposed restrictions create specific responsibilities for the ministry – both in terms of ethical practices and accounting issues
Quid Pro Quo
When a giver receives goods or services of value approximate to the amount transferred, there is no true gift.
Quid Pro Quo Disclosure and Acknowledgment Requirements
Discusses the obligation of a ministry to provide a receipt for certain transactions where the giver receives goods or services in exchange for a donation
Discusses raffles by nonprofits as a fundraiser and the deductibility of ticket purchases by donors
Redefining How We Raise Resources
This article focuses on a new way of thinking about raising money for the work of God's Kingdom. Rather than merely harvesting or picking "low-hanging fruit," the focus should be on sowing seeds that encourage Christian generosity.
Refunding Contributions to a Giver
Discusses policies and procedures for refunding contributions to donors
Resource Development Philosophy
Resource development philosophy and principles - sample policy
Running Gifts Through the Ministry
Discusses how to recognize and avoid gifts that have been earmarked by givers for the benefit of specific individuals
Sample Annual Year-End Letter to Volunteers Related to Deducting Out-of-Pocket Costs
Sample Annual Year-End Letter to Volunteers Related to Deducting Out-of-Pocket Costs
Sample Endowment Policy
Sample endowment policy to be used as a guideline for a ministry
Sample Gift Acknowledgement
Sample Gift Acknowledgements
A sample policy that may be modified for your ministry's use
Sample IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution Gift Acknowledgment
Sample of a gift acknowledgment for IRA distributions
Sample Real Property Donation Policy
Sample policy on real property donations including assessment and evaluation guidance
Sample Short-Term Mission Trip and Mission Field Assessment Visit Policy
Many ministries sponsor short-term mission trips and encourage their constituents to participate in the trips. Additionally, ministries may send representatives to a mission field to assess certain field-specific issues before a ministry begins to support a particular field or as a qualifying event contingent on a ministry’s continuing to support a field. This document includes sample language for your ministry’s policy.
Scrip Sales by a Ministry
Scrip, in the form of a gift certificate or a gift card, is sometimes purchased by a ministry from a merchant at a discount and may create special tax considerations.
Short-Term Mission Trips
Discusses the deductibility of contributions for short-term mission trips
Should We Accept this Gift?
Addresses establishing charitable gift guidelines for a nonprofit
Soliciting from the Elderly
Discusses issues to consider when soliciting contributions from the elderly
A statement by a giver which creates a condition or restriction on the use of the transferred resources.
Temporarily Restricted Gift
A gift that is donor restricted for a stated period of time or until a stated event has occurred.
Temporarily Restricted Net Assets
The part of net assets for a ministry that is temporarily restricted by donor-imposed stipulations.
The 7 Deadly Sins of Year-End Gift Receipts
This article written by Michael Martin for The Church Network Insight magazine will help church administrators understand the importance of ensuring that gift receipts provided by the church meet the requirements of federal tax law for those who will use the receipts as substantiation when filing their returns and claiming a charitable deduction.
The Good Story Project
Should we communicate with potential givers by sharing spiritual transformation impact or by telling stories about our nonprofit’s work? Clearly, the answer is both! In their excellent article, The Good Story Project, Bill Frisby and Dave Rippey, with Strengthening Leaders L3C, share how good stories link the legacy of the past with present realities and hopes for the future in ways that allow people to see the value of the ministry
The Heart of Fundraising
Discusses a biblical approach to fundraising, beginning with a transformation of the heart
The Road to Generosity
With our freedom in Christ, we can choose to travel on the road to generosity or we can take self-absorbed detours. Such a choice necessitates clearly mapping out the biblical motivations and obligations for the desired route of generosity. While it is presently the road less traveled, it is certainly the one that God will greatly bless.
An overview of issues to consider before accepting a time-share gift
Timing of Contributions
Outlines the IRS rules regarding the timing of contributions made by credit card and check
Trips and Events Provided for Major Donors
Discusses the tax and stewardship issues surrounding fundraising trips and events provided for major donors
Underfunded and Overfunded Projects
Discusses the appropriate action when a ministry project is either underfunded or overfunded
Using a Pooled Concept to Raise Money for Workers
Defines the pooled concept and gives pros and cons
A variance power is the authority granted to a ministry by a court with respect to the use of a giver-restricted gift.
Volunteer Travel Expense
Discusses travel reimbursement by a ministry to a volunteer
Which Gifts Are Giver-Restricted?
When a ministry receives funds, it is essential that any giver-restricted gifts be identified.
Who Is Calling Your Givers?
Discusses the privacy of nonprofit ministry mailing lists
Workplace Giving for Christian Ministries
Workplace giving has been a staple of the American philanthropic community for decades. From the first United Way campaign in 1888 to modern campaigns focused on electronic integration and donor choice, workplace giving allows donors to support their favorite ministries while also participating in the excitement of their workplace campaign.