Year-End Giving

  • Giving to individuals in need does not usually result in a tax receipt.
  • Individuals in need cannot provide a legal receipt for your contribution.
  • Most giving to church congregations will not be used for individuals in need.
  • However, you will be allowed to deduct your contribution to a church.
  • There is nothing wrong with giving to a church organization.
  • Do not assume that “tithing” is the equivalent of giving to those in need.
  • Most giving to television ministries will not be used for individuals in need.
  • However, you will be allowed to deduct your contribution to a TV ministry.
  • Prosperity preachers would likely not be prosperous if not for their “ministry.”
  • Many parachurch ministries use contributions to serve people in need.
  • There are also secular agencies that serve people in need.
  • Parachurch and secular agencies provide you with a receipt for tax purposes.
  • Sometimes a tax receipt is not the most important consideration in giving.
  • On heaven’s scales, obedience will be more useful than a tax receipt.
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12 thoughts on “Year-End Giving

  1. Nice list! Truthful and piercing. I would be curious to see, how in 25 years when there is a good chance that churches will loose their charity status, the giving equation shakes out. It is easy to give for the wrong reasons today…

  2. I have decided not to seek tax deductions for “charitable giving”, regardless of where I give it. That way, I’m not tempted by the presence or absence of a receipt.

    -Alan

  3. When giving, my wife and I are primarily guided by two passages (surprise, Malach 3:8 isn’t one of them!). The first revealing what state I, as a human, I had fallen to, the second revealing what state, as a human, Christ has restored me to. The following two texts are the heart of the context of the passages:

    “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

    “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:28)

    The answers to these two questions serve as a good guide for giving.

  4. One time my husband and I gave a single mom a car that she desperately needed. We didn’t need it anymore. Our church chastised us for not giving it to the church first so that we could get the tax write off. The only problem was that we were afraid that the car would never have gotten to the mom if we’d done it through proper channels because there was too much red tape and well … she might not meet their standards. Or some other weirdness. We didn’t (and never have) cared about the tax write off. If that’s why you’re giving, well, then … I think Jesus would say, you have your reward.

  5. I feel all false dichotomied up… So remember: There are a lot of churches where giving does result in giving to those in need. There are a lot of pastors of those same churches who themselves are not “prosperous” but at times have been the needy. There is nothing wrong with giving to any organization secular or para-church or church…but that does not mean that we should not seek to give to our congregations (assuming that our congregations are giving to those in need..and if they are not why are they our congregations?) If tax breaks are your motivation for giving…well there is your reward i suppose… But there is no sin in receiving a tax break, it may mean you have more to give. Or you could just let the government keep it I suppose…is congress needy?

    D

  6. *Giving to other’s ourselves – will not reap a tax benifit
    *Giving to others our clothes and food – will not reap any tax benifit
    *Giving money to others should not be an excuse not to give practically.
    *Giving money to others should not appease our conscience for sitting on our @@@@@.

    Obedience, right on Grace – He said, go – not send a cheque.

  7. John,
    I believe that initially the charitable status was linked more directly to charitable work by churches within the local community.

    Alan,
    The tax receipt is not a factor in determining where we give financially either, although I take whatever deductions are available to us in preparing our taxes.

    ken,
    Those are great guidelines for allowing the Spirit to give specific direction for a particular situation.

    Sonja,
    Good point. The tax receipt really isn’t that big of a deal, but it is the one of the first topics that comes up when people begin giving in a way that omits the middleman.

    ia,
    Maybe this post should have had a paypal button. ;)

    David,
    There are a few churches where giving results in giving to those in need. Statistics are that well over 90% of giving to the majority of church organizations is used for the maintenance of the organization.

    A list of congregations that give over 30% of the money that they receive to those in need would be a pretty small percentage of existing congregations.

    I am not even saying there is anything wrong with that. I am saying to not confuse it with giving to the poor and needy. They are not the same thing. There are many people who believe that support of the church organization is an important and valid use of their contributions.

    In theory, I’m not a big fan of the idea of paid clergy. However, if an organization is going to hire a person to work for them, they should pay them a decent wage. Poor pay is only one of the ways in which the person put in the role of pastor is mistreated by church systems.

    Overall, I guess the idea of church as an organization for the benefit of the members, which is evidenced in most church budgets, doesn’t seem like what church was intended to be.

    Mark,
    Being stuck in my office working on year-end bookwork is what prompted this post. Thus the focus on financial giving. However, your point is really important. There are many ways of giving that have nothing to do with dollars. Limiting our thinking of giving to only financial things can prevent us from seeing the many ways the Spirit may be prompting us to give of ourselves. And often, sending a cheque would be easier.

  8. Usher: Deak, I’m torn. If I give to the needy, I can’t accrue points on my Saddleback One Card!

    Deacon: And thus you won’t get the good seats and the lunch with Rick Warren?

    Usher: Come on Deak – a lunch with Rick Warren would taste so much better than roadkill!

    Deacon: Isn’t there a parable that mentions eating bread with friends being better than steak with enemies?

  9. Giving to the government, and hoping they will provide healthcare and welfare to those in need isn’t going to work either.
    It is up to the Church. (or if that offends, God’s People)

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