Missions is an essential component of any church budget. But the ins-and-outs of supporting missions and missionaries are fraught with potential tax and legal issues. By following these seven guidelines, you can avoid many financial headaches and more easily navigate the often tricky area of missions funding.
1. Donors give to missions, not to missionaries
Zach wants to give to his niece's summer missions trip, so he writes a check in her name and drops it in the offering plate. But Zach might be jeopardizing his chances of receiving a deduction.
Why? Donations must be given to a specified fund and not to an individual.
CPA Elaine Sommerville explains: "The church can allow the donors to indicate the particular participant they wish to support. However, a church must convey to the donor that it may use the donation for other participants, other missions trip expenses, or even future missions trips in the event the selected participant receives excess designated funds or the indicated participant does not go on the trip. This message should be contained in any fundraising material."