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.
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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? 

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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.

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Acknowledgments for Auction Items

Sample acknowledgments for payments and for charitable gifts related to auctions

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Asking Is Just the Beginning!

Discusses the importance and means of maintaining integrity throughout the fundraising process

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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.

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Banquets

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

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Benevolence Funds FAQs

Frequently asked questions and answers about benevolence funds

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Beyond Giving and Getting

Discussion of the board’s role of fundraising as a ministry

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Biblical Principles for Stewardship and Fundraising

Lists Biblical principles relating to stewardship and fundraising

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Capital Campaign

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

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Challenge and Matching Gifts

Discusses the intricacies of challenge and matching gifts

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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

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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

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Charitable Gift Acknowledgments for Donations

Outlines IRS requirements for acknowledgments for contributions received by a ministry

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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.

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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

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Child Adoption Fundraising and Support

Discusses items related to child adoption funding

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Combined Federal Campaign

Discusses Combined Federal Campaign and eligibility requirements of nonprofit organizations

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Compensation of Outside Fundraisers

Discusses ECFA’s requirements regarding compensation of outside fundraisers

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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

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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.

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Contributions for Disasters

Accountability for funds received and expended for disaster relief should be based on certain best practices.

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Contributions Made by Credit Card

Credit card policy for ministries that accept donations or payments by credit card

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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.  

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Contributions to Athletic Scholarship Programs

Outlines the IRS’s position on the tax deductibility of contributions to athletic scholarship programs

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Corporate Sponsorship

Outlines the IRS regulations regarding corporate sponsorship of nonprofit organizations

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Deputized Fundraising

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

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Deputized Fundraising – The Basics

Discusses the basics of deputized fundraising

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Deputized Gift Letter

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

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Disaster Relief Payments

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

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Disclosure of Overhead Charges

Discusses appropriate disclosure of overhead charges on giver-restricted gifts

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Distributions from 403(b) Plans

Addresses the permissible distributions from 403(b) plans and the tax consequences of non-qualified distributions

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Donation of Investment Securities

Outlines the proper accounting and receipting for contributions of investment securities

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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

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Donor-Advised Fund

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

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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.”

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Effectively Handling Endowment Gifts

Outlines different types and proper accounting for endowments

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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.

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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.

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Fundraising Resources

Publications about a variety of fundraising issues

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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.

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Getting It Right Every Time with Restricted Gifts Webinars-On-Demand

This Webinar-On-Demand will focus on Getting It Right Every Time with Restricted Gifts with Dan Busby, president of ECFA, Michael Martin, vice president and legal counsel of ECFA, and John Van Drunen, executive vice president and general counsel of ECFA.

By listening to this Webinar-On-Demand, you will learn about:

  • Identifying donor-restricted gifts, plus what to do when gifts cannot be used for intended purposes
  • Communicating restricted giving opportunities with clarity
  • Exercising discretion and control over restricted gift
  • Plus much more!

Additional Resources:

Be sure to check out the PowerPoint download and bonus eBook resource above the video recording under the Handouts & Links dropdown menu.

Charging an Overhead Assessment Against Restricted Donations

Gift Acceptance Guidelines

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Gift Acceptance Guidelines

Guidelines for a nonprofit to follow when determining what gifts should be accepted from donors

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Gift Annuity Rates

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

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Gift Clubs

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

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Gifts of Real Estate

Guidelines for preparing a real estate gift policy

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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.

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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.

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Giver Privacy

Discusses giver privacy and important elements of a giver privacy policy

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Guidelines for Handling Funds Raised for Disasters

Contains guidelines that ministries should consider when raising disaster-related funds

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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.

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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.

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IRA Direct Charitable Contributions

Givers to ministries may roll over funds from IRAs tax-free.

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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.

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Lead Gifts

The first, usually sizable, gifts of a capital campaign

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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.

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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.

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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.

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National Worker (non-U.S. worker)

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

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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.

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Noncash Charitable Gift Acknowledgments

Sample acknowledgment letters for noncash gifts

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Outsourcing Gift Processing

Discusses outsourcing gift processing and addresses some potential problem areas

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Ownership of Gifts

Case studies and analyses addressing nonprofit ownership of gifts

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Perceptions of Fundraising Techniques

Helps a ministry determine how donors may perceive its fundraising techniques

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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.

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Planned Giving Program Overview

Steps a ministry should take before beginning a planned giving program

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Pooled Fundraising

Funds raised to support a group of workers instead of a particular worker.

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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.

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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.

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Prohibiting the Acceptance of Restricted Gifts

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

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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?

 

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Proper Care of Giver-Restricted Gifts

Giver-imposed restrictions create specific responsibilities for the ministry – both in terms of ethical practices and accounting issues

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Quid Pro Quo

When a giver receives goods or services of value approximate to the amount transferred, there is no true gift.

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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

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Raffles

Discusses raffles by nonprofits as a fundraiser and the deductibility of ticket purchases by donors

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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.

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Refunding Contributions to a Giver

Discusses policies and procedures for refunding contributions to donors

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Resource Development Philosophy

Resource development philosophy and principles - sample policy

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Running Gifts Through the Ministry

Discusses how to recognize and avoid gifts that have been earmarked by givers for the benefit of specific individuals

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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

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Sample Endowment Policy

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

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Sample Gift Acknowledgment

Sample Gift Acknowledgements

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Sample Giver Privacy Policy

A sample policy  that may be modified for your ministry's use

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Sample IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution Gift Acknowledgment

Sample of a gift acknowledgment for IRA distributions

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Sample Real Property Donation Policy

Sample policy on real property donations including assessment and evaluation guidance

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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.

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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.

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Short-Term Mission Trips

Discusses the deductibility of contributions for short-term mission trips

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Should We Accept this Gift?

Addresses establishing charitable gift guidelines for a nonprofit

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Soliciting from the Elderly

Discusses issues to consider when soliciting contributions from the elderly

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Stipulation

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

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Temporarily Restricted Gift

A gift that is donor restricted for a stated period of time or until a stated event has occurred.

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Temporarily Restricted Net Assets

The part of net assets for a ministry that is temporarily restricted by donor-imposed stipulations.

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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.

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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

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The Heart of Fundraising

Discusses a biblical approach to fundraising, beginning with a transformation of the heart

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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.

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Time-Share Contributions

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

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Timing of Contributions

Outlines the IRS rules regarding the timing of contributions made by credit card and check

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Trips and Events Provided for Major Donors

Discusses the tax and stewardship issues surrounding fundraising trips and events provided for major donors

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Underfunded and Overfunded Projects

Discusses the appropriate action when a ministry project is either underfunded or overfunded

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Using a Pooled Concept to Raise Money for Workers

Defines the pooled concept and gives pros and cons

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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.

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Volunteer Travel Expense

Discusses travel reimbursement by a ministry to a volunteer

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Which Gifts Are Giver-Restricted?

When a ministry receives funds, it is essential that any giver-restricted gifts be identified.

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Who Is Calling Your Givers?

Discusses the privacy of nonprofit ministry mailing lists

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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.

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