The Intersection

I served a church client recently and had opportunity to engage in conversation with a high capacity donor couple who had demonstrated extreme generosity towards the church’s ministry over the years. As the campaign neared its conclusion, the donor, encouraged by his wife, inquired about the progress of the initiative and my reaction to the results that had been attained up to that point.

church generosity intersection

As we talked, the donors indicated a desire to increase their gift from $500,000 to $900,000. Then he said, “Oh, just make it $1,000,000”. As his wife walked away celebrating their decision to increase their gift, the husband rolled his eyes and said “I just gave a million to [name of his Alma Mater]!” Of course the pastor was ecstatic when he learned the news of the revised gift. Yet I left thinking that we could have had $2,000,000!

A New Revenue Stream for 2011

Beginning January 1, 2011, working Americans are going to realize a 2% increase in their paychecks. As part of the extended Bush tax cut plan passed by congress in December, payroll taxes (also called FICA taxes) have been reduced from 7.65% to 5.65%.

church revenue stream

Payroll taxes go to fund Social Security (6.2% on income up to $106,800) and Medicare (1.45% with no income limit). For a person earning $106,800 in 2011, their tax savings will equal the maximum $2,136.

For those ministries who have been diligently encouraging their congregations to “step up” their giving, there is now a new source from which giving can occur. If your church is in a capital campaign season, your participants have a new pocket from which they can fulfill their financial commitments.

IRA Charitable Donations Reinstated Through 2011

Another provision under the Bush tax cut legislation involves the reinstatement of a very popular benefit for those aged 70 1/2 and older.

church giving

The provision expired at the beginning of 2010, but has now been reinstated. Here are the details that you need to share with those who are in the qualifying age bracket:

  • The provision allows someone over 70 1/2 years of age to donate up to $100,000 of their IRA assets to a charitable organization.
  • The donor’s contribution can satisfy the required minimum distribution for the year and does not have to be counted as taxable income.
  • Those who qualify to make this gift, need to seek counsel from their tax attorney or licensed financial planner for the details.

The Wall Street Journal did a nice article on this provision.

Here’s a point of URGENCY – through January 31, 2011, the donor can make a gift that still counts for 2010. This means the individual can make an IRA contribution this month that counts for 2010, then make a second contribution later this year for 2011.

Get this news out to your congregation and constituents as soon as possible!

Random Act of Culture

I just learned of a surprise “Random Act of Culture” that occurred on, Oct. 30 at Macy’s in Philadelphia.

church giving

A project of the Knight Foundation, they are offering 1,000 random acts of culture over the next 3 years around the United States.

The act at Macy’s involved the Opera Company of Philadelphia, secretly posing as shoppers when suddenly, accompanied by the world’s largest pipe organ, all 600 singers burst into the Hallelujah Chorus.

Winning the Battle – Part One – Mission

What is the number one reason donors give for why they choose to support a particular non-profit? Their belief in the mission or cause of the organization.


They align themselves with what you are doing, they identify with you, and they are moved to support your mission. So what is your ministry mission – the answer to the question: “What are we doing?”

I am not speaking of the great commission here, which is commonly the answer I get. That should be the calling of every church.

The Competition is Heating Up

“People no longer give to the church simply because it is the church. The church must prove it is worthy of donations.” George Barna.

church giving competition

This quote from Barna and the following statistics should sound an alarm. More than ever, you and your church are competing for charitable contributions. And the church is losing.

Facts you need to know:

The $2 Church Offering

I’m a strong advocate for creating giving “on-ramps” – opportunities throughout the year where we encourage unique giving opportunities. These offerings are for small, special projects that have immediate results.

Those who are not used to giving are encouraged to give it a try. Once the project is funded and the report given to the church, those new to the giving experience tell us that the experience is enjoyable, and they often express interest in the next giving opportunity.

When they do that, you have an open door to discuss on-going giving through tithes and offerings. You have just moved them onto the giving path.

Tween Understands Generosity

Within the last month, I saw a “tweet” from someone I follow on Twitter. She is a staff member in a church where I have served as consultant to their capital campaign, and most recently on their annual fund initiative. Here is the text of her tweet:

“Tween asked bday guests 2 bring blankets 4 homeless instead of gifts & she just spent all her bday $ on christmas wishes kids. Proud momma.”

A Time for Generosity

Numerous assessments about the economic condition of the United States abound. Furthermore it is also a condition affecting first, second and third world countries.

Many Americans feel that they are joining the rest of the world because they have anxieties over dependable income, home ownership, retirement plans, health care, debt loads, and college plans. Most people, however, are not yet moving down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the basic level of safe shelter or adequate food and clothing.

Receiving, Then Giving

Recently I had opportunity to assist a dear friend who is facing dire financial circumstances. During a lunch conversation I sensed there were troubles on the horizon for this friend and I began to inquire about how I might help. He acknowledged my interest, yet his response was that he would consider it and let me know. It was then I looked him in the eye and said, “You know, it may require more grace to receive than to give.”

You see, over the years this friend has been overwhelmingly generous to me and my family. Not only to me, but to others I know personally, he has extended a hand of friendship and offers of assistance, financial and otherwise, that could never totally be repaid. Yet now he finds himself on the other end of the generosity spectrum. This time it is his turn to receive – and I don’t think it has been easy for him to “play that role.”