Churches exist and thrive because of the generosity of their communities—but I don’t just mean volunteers generously giving of their time and talents. I also mean selfless givers donating money each week, each month, each year.
But, at some point, most churches receive gifts that can’t be cashed at a bank. Whether it’s a vehicle, small plot of land, building, or just a lawn-mower, gifts sometimes trickle in that churches aren’t sure how to manage. But do you really need to manage these types of gifts? Should they be treated differently? Let’s get into it…
“Non-cash gifts” or “asset-based giving” means a gift or something of value which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) doesn’t consider cash.
But this doesn’t just include physical items like cars and lawn care equipment. Non-material assets such as stocks and bonds all count as “non-cash” gifts. These are gifts that have value but are not cash currency when gifted to your organization.
Non-cash donations are a great way for givers to be generous without it hitting their own pocketbooks. For example, if a donor gives a church a stock that is worth $10 in 2000, then they have effectively given the church $10. But if the church holds onto that stock and the value increases to $200 by 2015 the donor has still only given $10 for tax purposes, but the value that the church receives is far greater.
Non-cash giving is especially important when discussing estate planning. While your leaders may not be talking about this right now, it’s important to remember that a particularly generous giver may will part of his or her estate to the church once they pass. It’s critical to understand how your church can best receive and record these non-cash gifts.
Why promote it?
Non-cash giving allows you to connect with more givers, while also allowing community members to be more generous beyond their cash means. Your organization benefits from assets that a giver donates, and the giver can be more generous without drawing from a tight budget.
Direct fund giving or traditional giving is not going anywhere, and the vast majority of your gifts will still come from giver’s pocketbooks. However, by promoting non-cash giving you are allowing for community members to expand their donations in a more sustainable way.
While money comes and goes, most people accumulate physical products faster than they use them and are happy to periodically donate useable goods to their local ministry. For many churches that prioritize this type of giving, donated goods are funneled continuously to other local nonprofits, creating a cycle of giving that’s fueled by things sitting in people’s garages.
The same goes for neighborhood organizations that are looking to pass along or sell their assets. Churches that clearly communicate that they accept these types of donations often find themselves with free vehicles, tools, equipment, clothes, books, and even laptops and phones they can use to serve members in need or fuel their benevolence ministry.
“By limiting your organization exclusively to cash and credit card donations, you eliminate your access to donors who’d be willing to make noncash gifts. And that means you don’t have access to the other 90 percent of a donor’s assets.”—Ray Gary, Philanthropy New Digest
Non-cash giving is a cornerstone of major Christian organizations around the world such as HOPE International, Compassion International, World Vision and more. Is your church prioritizing it? If not, you’re missing out on the full generosity of your community.
If your ministry is looking to better prioritize non-cash giving, the good news is that mobile giving platforms like Pushpay enable churches to easily and securely record these asset-based gifts. The Pushpay giving platform makes it easy for church finance staff to track non-cash gifts and prepare tax documents, even accounting for individual gifts and organizational donations.
Ready to discover how your church can start encouraging and accepting more non-cash gifts? Talk to one of our church technology experts today!