Generosity is a high value in churches. The Bible teaches that followers of God should not be focused on wealth; rather, they should be good stewards of what they have been given and share what they have with those who are less fortunate than themselves (1 Timothy 6:6-8). Being generous with their resources is one way believers can be a part of the work of God on earth.
But how do you know how much to give? How much should go to your local church? How do tax laws factor into what you give to your church?
These are some questions you may have when giving to your church. In this article, we will discuss these questions and look at how you can be a good steward of what God has given to you.
What Is Church Giving?
Church giving refers to the financial contributions gifted to a church. The act can be seen as part of an individual’s discipleship with God through their faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings on giving to those in need (Luke 11:41). Gifts may be given from those inside or outside the congregation and may include offerings from non-members. These contributions may be given through regular tithing, one-time offerings, or recurring gifts.
People may also pledge to give over a period of time. Church pledges are usually formal commitments made by those in the congregation for year-round generosity. Recurring giving and pledges can both help churches financially plan for the future since leaders will have a better idea of how much money will come in each month. Because of this, they are better able to create a budget and plan for expenses.
Why Is Church Giving Important?
Giving is important because it helps the church continue its mission in service to God. Church leaders and members decide how to allocate those gifts in support of missions, weekly services, community initiatives, those who are less fortunate, programs that encourage spiritual growth, and more.
How Churches Use Your Contributions
In addition to the above, churches allocate money toward many specific areas, such as staff salaries, program costs, audio and visual equipment, kids’ and youth programs, background checks for ministry volunteers, maintenance expenses (like repairing leaky roofs), and keeping up facilities.
Churches may also spend some funds on invitations to the community for people to visit and become involved. They often also pay for materials to hand out, such as bulletins.
How Churches Can Share the Value of Giving With Their Congregations
Many churches don’t highlight the power of giving and how their people can be better engaged in the practice. In some cases, they need to be more clear about displaying giving options on screens or making sure people know how to give online so it can be done quickly and easily with a credit card, debit card, PayPal account, etc.
It is also important for leaders to show generosity by modeling it themselves with their finances and time. Being willing to open up your home for a meal, for example, can go a long way toward creating credibility and trust within the congregation and the community.
Leaders should also consider what messages are being conveyed when speaking about tithes and offerings. Does the church seem unfriendly when talking about giving? Is there enough transparency about where the funds will go? Do staff members use their resources appropriately?
Pastors themselves also play an important role in giving. Some common mistakes when talking about giving include:
- Talking about tithing and generosity too infrequently
- Not tying it into the sermon
- Forgetting to share digital giving options
- Ignoring the power of stories
- Assuming people know the spiritual significance of giving
The pastor is in the best position to encourage people in the church to contribute financially. Pastors can teach sermons on the value of generosity, show how much money has been given in previous years and what that money has gone to, and even model giving by tithing some of their own salaries. Churchgoers need plenty of examples of where their contributions are going and how those funds are being used to further the church’s mission.
Awareness About Church Giving
Sometimes certain ministries lack visibility in the church, which means people may experience a disconnect between giving and the sermon content. People may also not be aware of how important their contributions are to the church and its mission, or how generosity impacts their personal faith.
However, there are ways you can address these issues. A good first step is to make sure churchgoers know why they should give in the first place. Teaching your people about what it means to give back a portion of what they have been given is vital for worshippers who may not understand why generosity matters. It is also important that you share the avenues that are available for them to give to the church and where their contributions are going.
Online Giving Options and Social Media
To make charitable giving to your church as accessible as possible to younger generations, you should make sure to have an online giving option. In most cases, a simple online giving platform can be set up in less than a day. Many social media sites allow you to add a digital giving form to their platform, providing followers with more ways to give at the touch of a button.
There are also various websites and mobile apps that provide donors with a convenient and effortless way to make contributions. Text to Give is another popular option that allows people tio give from their phones just by texting your church’s dedicated mobile number. Cashless physical donation kiosks in church lobbies or onsite at events such as conferences can also be helpful for attendees to donate money onsite without having to carry it around all day.
Aside from using online giving for contributions, churches should continue including physical giving options during services. For those who prefer not to donate through their mobile devices or computers, this is an easy way for them to make contributions that don’t require any additional effort other than bringing cash or checks to church on Sundays when they attend.
Physical giving options are also a great way for kids to learn about the importance of generosity and how they can get involved by donating change or a portion of their allowance.
Legal and Tax Considerations for Collecting Contributions Online
To accept money from its congregation through its website or mobile app, a church should get registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the IRS, apply for recognition of tax exemption under IRC section 501(a), and file annual reports and forms. Fortunately, you’ve probably already done this if you’re collecting contributions the old-fashioned way. Another benefit of registering with the IRS as a charity is that all contributions made are eligible for certain charitable deductions.
Be aware that you may be subject to payment processing fees if you collect donations online. Payment processing fees for nonprofits and churches can be as high as 4%, but some platforms allow you to provide the option for donors to cover those fees when they make their donation.
If you’re collecting donations through a mobile app, the process is pretty much identical to an online experience. You’ll need to go through this same registration process, and transactions will be subject to a similar payment processing fee.
Tools to Facilitate Tithing and Mobile Giving
As we’ve discussed, providing ways for church members to tithe and support the mission of the church has never been easier or more convenient. Between digital giving resources and in-person options, accepting donations from your congregation is easy, quick, and efficient.
To help with this process, Aplos has created a solution that provides secure giving options, automates the tithe-tracking process, and allows you to quickly create giving receipts and giving statements for donors.
Learn more about streamlining your ministry’s giving program with Aplos. You can try it free for 15 days.
This article is not meant to be a substitute for professional services. Always consult a CPA or trusted professional when seeking tax or accounting advice.