"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
When a gift is received by an church or agency it is a source of great joy. A gift brings feelings of anticipation of the potential impact it may have upon the life and work of the organization and the people touched by its ministry.
Acceptance of a gift also brings with it responsibility. The church or agency has an obligation to the donor to ensure that his or her wishes for the gift are respected, now and in the future, and that the gift is managed responsibly and in the best interest of the organization. When a donor establishes restrictions on a gift in terms of how and when it can be utilized, the responsibility placed upon the organization to respect those wishes can become a burden. In some cases it is in the best interest of both the giver and the organization that a gift be directed to a different recipient, if that gift will be difficult or impossible to utilize or bring with it tax or legal liabilities which the organization may be unable to absorb.
It is important to note that the trustees of the local church, at the direction of the charge conference, have the obligation to evaluate a gift, especially a bequest or trust, in order to determine whether it is in the best interest of the church and the donor to accept it.
How We Can Help
The Foundation can work with your church or agency to establish a gift acceptance policy. A gift acceptance policy is put in place as a guide for the acceptance or rejection of all gifts by the organization. A properly drafted policy can have the additional benefit of encouraging gifts and clearly stating how unrestricted gifts are to be applied to various aspects of the ministry of the organization.
Considerations when Accepting Gifts
Real Estate Gifts
- Are there unpaid taxes and liens on the property?
- Has the organization evaluated the cost of liability and property damage insurance for the property?
- Has an environmental audit been done for potentially hazardous materials (asbestos, lead paint, etc.)?
- If the organization intends to sell the property, how marketable is it?
Narrow Purpose Restrictions
- Is the gift designated to provide funding for a ministry the organization does not intend to pursue?
- Is the gift contingent upon securing additional funds, for example to perform a construction project?
- Is the gift so narrow as to be unlikely to be used in the future?
Regarding difficult conditions
- Does the gift fund a ministry that does not conform to the policy of the United Methodist Church?
- Is the gift contingent upon adherence to a particular theological position that may not be compatible with the purpose of the congregation?
- Is the gift to be invested in such a manner as to not provide the income necessary to fund the purpose for which the gift is given?
Be sure to check out the sample gift acceptance policy in our Endowment Resources section and contact us for more information and additional resources.
THE UNITED METHODIST BOOK OF DISCIPLINE 2016
"Subject to the direction of the charge conference as hereinbefore provided, the board of trustees shall receive and administer all bequests made to the local church; shall receive and administer all trusts; and shall invest all trust funds of the local church in conformity with laws of the country, state, or like political unit in which the local church is located. Nevertheless, upon notice to the board of trustees, the charge conference may delegate the power, duty, and authority to receive, administer, and invest bequests, trusts, and trust funds to the permanent endowment committee or to a local church foundation and shall do so in the case of bequests, trusts, or trust funds for which the donor has designated the committee or the local church foundation to receive, administer, or invest the same."