CONGREGATIONAL GIFT POLICY
To give a written process to all constituents of our congregation that outlines what
types of property are acceptable as gifts above and beyond pledges or plate offerings,
and how decisions are made for its use.
This policy answers two core questions:
1. How can gifts be provided to the congregation?
2. How will the gift be used?
Elements of a Gift Policy
- Gift Acceptance
a. Defines who will decide if gift is accepted
b. Defines what gifts will be considered
- Gift Use
a. Defines who will decide how gifts are used
b. Outlines process and guidelines to determine how gifts are used
- Ways to Make a Gift
a. Cash or check
b. Asset transfer
c. Beneficiary designation
d. Deferred gifts
Special note regarding legal counsel:
- The Committee may seek the advice of outside resources including CPAs,
Financial Advisors, ELCA Resources, and legal counsel as appropriate on
matters relating to acceptance of gifts. Use of these resources may be sought in
a. Closely held stock transfers that are subject to restrictions or buy-sell
b. Documents naming the Church as Trustee
c. Gifts involving contracts, such as bargain sales or other documents
requiring the Church to assume a legal obligation
d. Gifts of patents and intellectual property
e. Transactions with potential conflict of interest that may invoke IRS
f. Other instances in which use of counsel and/or other resources is
deemed appropriate by Church Council or Committee.
CONGREGATIONAL GIFT POLICY
- Gift Policy Acceptance
a. When an asset is offered to our congregation through an estate, or from
a living individual, family, or other legal entity that is above and beyond
a regular pledge/plate offering, the Legacy Committee, will determine if
the gift is accepted. The recommendation for acceptance will then be
taken to Church Council for approval
b. The Legacy Committee will be comprised of the Pastor, a Church Council
Liaison appointed by Church Council, and other members from the
- Our congregation is willing to consider all gifts, including the following types of
c. Publicly traded securities
iii. Mutual funds
v. Other marketable securities traded on public exchanges
d. Non-publicly traded securities
iii. Closely held business interests:
1. Partnership units
2. Limited liability companies
3. S-Corp shares
4. C-Corp shares
e. Life insurance (assignment of ownership) – permanent type with cash value
f. Real property
iii. Life estate
g. Tangible personal property
h. Other property
i. Mineral rights
vii. Oil and gas interests
viii. Bargain sales: congregation purchases an asset for less than fair
market value. Special Note: Bargain Sales will only be considered
if they serve the common good of the congregation and the donor
offering the asset. The Bargain Sales process will be fully and
ethically examined by the Legacy Committee, and will in no way be
considered if they represent risk or harm (spiritual or financial)to the
donor or congregation.
- If our congregation decides to decline the gift, the donor or donor’s estate will be
contacted by written notice, and verbal notice by a member of the Legacy
Committee as determined by the Legacy Committee.
- If our congregation accepts an unrestricted gift, which is defined as an asset
that a donor has given to our congregation without any limitation of its use, the
Legacy Committee will review it’s use and make recommendations to Church
Council for approval.
Gift Policy Use
- If the gift is unrestricted, our congregation will make an automatic 10% tithe
from the proceeds, before any other allocations are made, to
a. ELCA Synod
- If the gift is unrestricted, an automatic 50% [of the net proceeds after the tithe],
will be deposited in the congregation’s endowment fund.
- If the gift is unrestricted, the overall use of the net proceeds after the tithe and
endowment contribution (50%), is unrestricted for the current need of the
congregation and its ministries (50%) to be determined by church council.
- If the gift is restricted, but the funds are unable to be used due to the lack of
program or need, as determined by [members of chosen in #3], the gift will
become unrestricted after 12 months. The gift will then begin the unrestricted
gift process, as outlined in this document.
- This Congregational Gift Policy will be reviewed annually. The next policy
review date is January 2020
Ways to Make a Gift
- Cash, check, or money order
- Beneficiary designations – primary or secondary/contingent
a. Retirement accounts
b. Individual or joint bank/brokerage accounts
i. Transfer on death
ii. Payable on death
c. Life insurance
d. Distribution from donor advised fund or named endowment
e. Living trust
g. Real estate
i. Transfer of deed on death
- Asset transfer
a. Transfer securities from your brokerage account directly to our
congregation’s brokerage account, or use the ELCA Foundation to
facilitate the transfer.
b. Transfer a title or deed to our congregation.
c. Assign ownership of life insurance to our congregation, or ELCA
Foundation, FBO (for benefit of) our congregation.
- Deferred gifts
a. Charitable gift annuity
b. Charitable remainder trust
c. Donor advised fund
d. Named endowment
e. Life estate
- Bargain sale
a. Sell an asset to our congregation below fair market value. Please refer to
ethics statement regarding Bargain Sale in this document. (page 3)
Resource: ELCA Foundation: 800-638-3522 elca.org/foundation
Are you considering a special gift or an estate gift to your congregation? If so,
we have resources available through the services of the ELCA Foundation. These gift
planning services are available at no charge to you as a member of our
congregation. The Charitable Gift Planner assists with establishing a comprehensive
estate plan that provides for your family and the ministries you care about. In
addition, the Gift Planner assists with current gifts to our congregation as described in
Contact our pastor, a member of the Legacy Committee, or visit elca.org/foundation to
connect with our Regional Gift Planner.
Endowment Fund By-laws
An Endowment Fund (“the Fund”) is an account that can hold funds from both current and
estate gifts, from which distributions are made for ministry. This document describes how our
congregation defines ministry and outlines the overall management of the Fund. Ideally, the
principal of the Fund grows over time, primarily from additional gifts, but also from investment
returns, as distributions are made from the earnings of the fund.
- Legacy Committee
- Investment Policy
- Distribution Policy
Legacy Committee (“the Committee”)
- The Committee will be comprised of 5 members.
- Members of the Committee will each serve [for 1, 2, 3 years] [staggered terms of:]
a. 2 members 1 year
b. 3 members for 2 years
c. No member shall serve more than 3 continuous terms of 2 years
- Any member of the congregation, including the Pastor may nominate a candidate for
- The Committee members will be elected during the Annual Congregational Meeting.
- If there is a vacancy on the Committee, Church Council can appoint someone until the
- The Committee will meet at least quarterly.
- A quorum shall consist of at least 3 members.
- When only 3 members are present, a unanimous vote shall carry any motion or
- The Committee will elect from its membership a chairperson and recorder.
- The Committee will report to the Church Council at least annually, and as needed.
- The financial records of the Fund must be audited at least annually by Church Audit
- Members of the Committee will not be held liable for any investment losses.
- Committee members will be held liable for his or her own willful misconduct.
- Members of the Committee will not be able to provide services to the Fund for a fee.
- Members of the Committee will not be able to engage in transactions the Fund in which
he or she has a direct or indirect financial interest.
- The Chair of Council, Chair of Legacy Committee, and the Treasurer will serve as three
signers available for required transaction signatures.
- These Endowment By‐laws will be reviewed by the Committee annually.
- Transactions of more than 4%of the value of the Fund at the time of the transaction
must be approved by the Church Council, including a transfer from the current
custodian to a new custodian, a purchase of a new asset, a liquidation of a current asset.
- We do not plan on withdrawing the principal of the Endowment Fund. Our primary
investment objective is income, with a secondary investment objective of capital
- The Committee will manage investments using professional outside advice
- The Fund can be held in the ELCA Endowment Fund Pooled Trust – Fund A, the ELCA
Mission Investment Fund, a state bank, a federal bank, a FINRA registered brokerdealer,
trust company, or a foundation.
- The Committee is limited to an annual distribution of 4% of the Fund balance, defined
by the account balance as of December 31 of the previous year, which includes all
interest, dividends, realized/unrealized capital gains from the previous year. Any
distribution that is larger, may be approved by Church Council.
- The Committee has a mandatory minimum distribution of 4% of the Fund balance each
year, as defined by the account balance as of December 31 of the previous year, which
includes all interest, dividends, realized/unrealized capital gains from the previous year.
- Any requests outside the Committee must be made by completing a grant application
(Exhibit A), following the guidelines outlined on the application.
- The Committee is not limited in its ministry use of the distribution.
- The intent of the distribution is that it be used for ministry both in and outside the
congregation. The distribution is not to be used for operating costs.
- In the event our congregation ceases to exist either through merger or dissolution,
disposition or transfer of the Fund shall be at the discretion of the Church Council in
conformity with the Congregation Constitution and Bylaws, and in consultation with the
Bishop of our synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to which this
ELCA Foundation: 800‐638‐3522 elca.org/foundation