Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Announcements for Benevolence Offerings

Hey Fletch … I read the recent “Hey Fletch” column about the benevolence offering for the woman with cancer. I get that donations cannot be earmarked for a specific person. How should we do announcements when there is a need like the lady with cancer?

DRF—There are two principles that were applied in an IRS private letter ruling:

  • The organization must have full control of all donations.
  • No donation can be earmarked for an individual.

Your goal in an announcement is to stay within those principles. This is challenging because donors like to give to specific needs! If you say, “please give to the benevolence fund,” you may get a mixed response!

Within the principles, you could say:

Our Benevolence Fund helps people in need. In the last few months we have helped Cindy who lost her job and Charles whose house was destroyed in a fire. Thank you for your gifts to the fund!

Right now there are significant needs in our Benevolence Fund. One person has cancer and another is facing a dire situation. As you give to the fund, we use our benevolence policy to wisely give to many people. You are filling a tangible need in the lives of many when you give to the fund. Thank you for being the loving arms of Jesus!

You may cross the line if you dwell on the current need of one person. I would avoid names for those with a current need. Donors may fixate on the name and put it on their donation.