Knowledge Center

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.

God-honoring board governance doesn't just happen. It requires spiritual discernment to recruit the right people onto the "board bus" and then wisdom to ensure that board practices are always Christ-centered.
Every Christ-centered organization should seek to handle money in a God-pleasing way. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much."
Luke 16:10
Churches and other nonprofits are the recipients of public trust and must fulfill fiduciary responsibilities. This means ensuring that all funds are used in conformity with applicable laws and regulations.
Establish a resource development program that yields transformed hearts and generous gifts. Then, hold and disburse the funds in a faithful manner, with proper reporting to givers and the government.

Keywords Category Type of Documents

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.


4 Keys for a Church to Properly Handle Designated Gifts

Almost every church receives some designated gifts each year. The gifts are “restricted” for accounting purposes, but churches often refer to them as “designated.”

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
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.

Banquets

Overview of fundraising banquets and the proper accounting treatment for possible elements of such an event

Banquets

Overview of fundraising banquets and the proper accounting treatment for possible elements of such an event

Benevolence Application – Financial Assessment Sheet

Sample benevolence form that may be used by a ministry to evaluate benevolence applicants

Benevolence Funds FAQs
Frequently asked questions and answers about benevolence funds
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

Biblical Principles for Stewardship and Fundraising
Lists Biblical principles relating to stewardship and fundraising
Capital Campaign

Capital campaigns are used to raise funds for buildings, endowments, scholarships and other purposes.

Capital Campaigns
Capital campaigns are used to raise funds for buildings, endowments, scholarships, and other specific 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

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 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 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

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

Compensation of Outside Fundraisers

Discusses ECFA’s requirements regarding compensation of outside fundraisers

Conduit Gift

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

Conduit Gift

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

Contribution

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.

Contribution
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 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 Made by Credit Card

Credit card policy for churches 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 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

Corporate Sponsorship

Outlines the IRS regulations regarding corporate sponsorship of nonprofit organizations

Deputized Fundraising

Ministries using this concept generally determine an amount each staff member is responsible to raise.

Deputized Fundraising

Churches 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 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

Deputized Gift Letter

Sample deputized gift letter explaining proper ministry and accounting treatment of deputized gifts

Digital Gifts to Churches—Developing Controls to Avoid Fraud
<p> In the past few decades, &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gone from dial-up Internet access in our basements to high-speed connections in our pockets,&rdquo; says Steve Hewitt, editor of <em>Christian Computing Magazine</em>.</p>
Disaster Relief Payments

Adequate records should demonstrate the victims’ needs for the assistance provided.

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

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

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

Donation of Investment Securities

Outlines the proper accounting and receipting for contributions of investment securities

Donations - A Church's Responsibility to Control

Discusses how a church must exercise full administrative control over donated funds to ensure that they fulfill exempt purposes and programs

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

Donor-Advised Fund

This document provides a definition of a donor-advised fund.

Donor-Advised Fund
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&rsquo;t be a painful or frustrating experience. Understanding the &ldquo;must haves&rdquo; 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 church identifying a contribution as restricted in terms of purpose or time.

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.

Fundraising Resources

Publications about a variety of fundraising issues

Generosity Articles

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

Gift Annuity Rates

Discusses gift annuity rates as recommended by the American Council on Gift Annuities

Gift Clubs

Discusses categories or gift levels that an ministry establishes to enhance giving options

Gifts Designated for a Pastor

The IRS clarified that to deduct a contribution to help pay a minister's health expenses, the donor’s intent in making the payment must have been to benefit the church and not an individual pastor, even if the donor simply desired to "bless" the pastor.

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 Domestic Organizations for Foreign Use

Charitable deductions to U.S. charities, including churches, 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 Privacy

Discusses giver privacy and important elements of a giver privacy policy

Giver Privacy

Discusses giver privacy and important elements of a giver privacy policy

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.

Giver Restrictions or Giver Preferences
<p> The distinction between a giver&#39;s restriction and giver&#39;s preference can make the difference between the giver&#39;s eligibility for a charitable tax deduction and no tax deduction.</p>
Giver-Imposed Condition

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.

Giver-Imposed Condition

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.

Giver-Imposed Restriction

A giver-imposed stipulation that specifies a use for the contributed asset that is more specific than the broad limits imposed by the church’s purpose and nature.

Giver-Imposed Restriction

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

Guidelines for Handling Funds Raised for Disasters

Contains guidelines that churches 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.

Implicit Gift Restriction

An implicit gift restriction occurs when there are certain circumstances surrounding a gift that makes the giver’s restriction clear even though there is no explicit gift restriction.

Important Considerations for Church Benevolence Programs
Discusses church benevolence programs
IRA Charitable Distribution Opportunities for Churches

The tax law provides new charitable giving opportunities through IRA distributions for church members.

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.

It’s More Than Contribution Receipts

Outlines ways that nonprofits can be financially accountable to donors beyond providing a contribution receipt

Lead Gifts
The first, usually sizable, gifts of a capital campaign
Lead Gifts

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.

Membership Benefits

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.

Modeling Integrity in Administering Gifts to the Church
Article by John Van Drunen
National Worker (non-U.S. worker)

A citizen, born in or naturalized in the country where a ministry conducts missionary activity.

National Worker (non-U.S. worker)

A citizen, born in or naturalized in the country where a church conducts missionary activity.

Needy and Distressed Test

This test should include a set of criteria by which a church can objectively make distributions to individuals who are financially or otherwise distressed.

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
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

Personal Gifts

A transfer of money or other property from one individual to another individual, voluntarily, without any obligation nor a consideration for services rendered.

Personal Gifts

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 church should take before beginning a planned giving program

Planned Giving Program Overview

Steps a ministry should take before beginning a planned giving program

Planned Giving: The Opportunity Cost of Doing Nothing
Most charities simply do nothing when it comes to planned giving. On average, Americans have approximately 9 percent of their net worth in cash and 91 percent in assets. Yet, nonprofits continue to rely on direct mail, fundraisers, and golf tournaments to meet their budgets; and make no attempt to help their donors learn how to gift assets. This white paper examines the cost of doing nothing when it comes to planned giving.
Pooled Fundraising

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.
Preferenced Gift

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.

Preferenced Gift

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 church's policy to prohibit the acceptance of restricted gifts only has a limited effect.

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 - Church
A donor has requested a report on how her gift was used for a certain project. What is appropriate for our church to provide to this donor?
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 donor receives goods or services of value approximate to the amount transferred, there is no true gift.

Quid Pro Quo Disclosure and Acknowledgment Requirements

Discusses when to disclose, how to disclose and how to calculate quid pro quo contribution

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

Raffles

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

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 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 Benevolence Fund Resolution
Sample wording for a benevolence fund board resolution
Sample Benevolence Policy

Sample benevolence policy that may be used as a guideline by a nonprofit ministry designing its own benevolence policy

Sample Endowment Policy

Sample endowment policy to be used as a guideline for a ministry

Sample Gift Acknowledgement

Sample Gift Acknowledgements

Sample Giver Privacy Policy

Discusses giver privacy and important elements of a giver privacy policy

Sample Giver Privacy Policy

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 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.

Sample Short-Term Mission Trip and Mission Field Assessment Visit Policy

Many churches 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 church’s continuing to support a field. This document includes sample language for your church’s policy.

Scrip Sales by a Church

Scrip, in the form of a gift certificate or a gift card, is sometimes purchased by a church from a merchant at a discount and may create special tax considerations.

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

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

Stewarding All of God's Blessings
Stewardship is a blessing, a means through which we grow in our relationship with God. If this is true, then it’s a topic that must be discussed within the community of faith and within our families. This white paper will explore some ways to help Christian leaders and believers find the fullness of God’s blessing.
Stipulation

A statement by a giver which creates a condition or restriction on the use of the transferred resources.

Stipulation

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 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.

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.

Time-Share Contributions

An overview of issues to consider before accepting a time-share gift

Time-Share Contributions

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

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

Variance Power

A variance power is the authority granted to a church by a court with respect to the use of a giver-restricted gift.

Variance Power

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

Volunteer Travel Expense

Discusses travel reimbursement by a church 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.