Year-End Giving Plans At Church

Leadership // December 13, 2011

Many of your givers plan on making that year-end gift on the very last Sunday of the year. What many haven’t thought of this year, however, is that they may not be in one of your worship services that weekend due to holiday travel or other reasons.

I anticipate there will be several who drive to your church office during that last week of the year to give that last gift in time for the 2011 tax deduction. What should you be doing to prepare for this?

Begin educating your people now. Remind them that Christmas falls on the last Sunday of the year. Tell them that gifts received after December 31 will go on the 2012 giving statement. Post your office hours that last week of December – make sure people know the times they can submit that final gift of the year.

Remember: if they can’t get it to you but still want it to count for their tax-deductible charitable contributions for the year, they will likely give it somewhere else!

Plan and implement an end-of-the-year online giving appeal:

  • December 23: Send an email reminder for the final Sunday offering of the year. In it, link to your online giving page for those who will be absent on Christmas weekend.
  • December 27: Send an email containing a “story of life change” from one of your ministries and offer information regarding the tax-deductible giving opportunity that exists through December 31. Link to your online giving page.
  • December 31: Send a “last chance to give” email with a direct link to your online giving page.

I realize this sounds like a frontal assault on your people, but trust me – they are receiving similar year-end giving appeals from several non-profits  they have supported over the past. You must work hard to keep your ministry top-of-mind throughout the end of the year, the  month for highest charitable donations in the US.

P.S. In case you are wondering: For tax purposes, an offering received on or before December 31 can be counted on a 2011 tax return. So if you have Saturday and Sunday services on the weekend, offerings received on Saturday, Dec 31 count for 2011 tax returns while those received on Sunday, Jan 1 count for 2012.

WARNING: The last Sunday of 2011 falls on Christmas Day!

An offering mailed through the postal service can be counted on a 2011 tax return if it is postmarked on or before Dec 31, regardless of when it is received in the church office.

An offering delivered via FedEx CANNOT be counted on a 2011 tax return if it is postmarked on or before Dec. 31 unless it is RECEIVED by Dec 31. If sent prior to Dec. 31 but not received until January, it can not be counted on 2011 taxes regardless of the postmarked date.

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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