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Charitable Contributions

Giving Policies for Heartland Community Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Heartland Community Church is a qualified charitable organization exempt from federal income taxes under IRS Sec 501(c)(3). Contributions to the church are deductible for federal income tax purposes under the rules and regulations established under the current provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. 

Please note, the entire amount of your contributions may not be deductible or allowed by the IRS depending on your individual tax situation.  Heartland Community Church cannot advise you on what is or is not deductible. We recommend that you confer with your tax advisor as to the exact value that you can deduct on your taxes.

TYPES OF CONTRIBUTIONS

A contribution to the church is either 1) undesignated, which supports the yearly budget of the church through our General Fund, or 2) designated giving, which supports other approved funds or projects of the church. The purpose of this policy is to set forth how both kinds of gifts will be treated in order to be considered a tax-deductible contribution. This policy does not deal with love offerings or gifts to employees. For purposes of this policy, the following terms are used:

  • Tax Deductible Contribution – a gift of cash or property given to a qualified organization by a donor who receives no tangible benefits from the gift and gives up full control of the gift for the organization to use for its purpose and mission.
  • Undesignated Gift – A gift that is given without designation. The yearly budget is funded primarily through undesignated gifts, and as such, donors are encouraged to give without designation.
  • Designated Gift – A gift that is designated for a specific fund (other than the General Fund) or ministry project. Designated giving will be accepted only for funds or special projects that have been approved by the Servant Leaders. Designated gifts for budgeted line item expenses (e.g. Global Missions, Benevolent Fund) will be accepted in accordance with #2 below. Designations written on Sunday giving envelopes other than those approved by the church will not be honored and those funds will be added to the general fund. Donors will not be permitted to recover a contribution because the church failed to honor the donor’s recommendation written on a giving envelope.

DESIGNATED FUNDS AND DESCRIPTIONS

  • General Fund – The General Fund includes all undesignated gifts from our weekly tithes and offerings and is used to support the ministry of the church and general operation of the church. Each year, the Administrative Team prepares a yearly budget that is approved by the Servant Leaders. This budget will guide the disbursement of funds from the General Fund. All church ministries will be funded from the general fund.

Heartland Community Church currently has two campuses, the Main Weymouth Campus and the Williams Campus.  Heartland intends to open additional campuses in the future and each campus will have a general fund to cover operating and ministry expenses.  The Administrative Team at each campus will prepare a yearly budget that is approved by the Servant Leaders. The budgets will guide the disbursement of funds from each General Fund. Heartland leadership may transfer money between general funds in the best interest of operating the church as a whole. If at any time a campus closes all the money remaining in the fund at that time will revert to the general fund of the main church campus.

  • Debt Reduction Fund – The church, in the exercise of its religious purposes and mission, has established a special debt reduction fund. The purpose of the fund is to pay down principal and interest of debts incurred by Heartland, mainly but not limited to the reduction of current mortgage of for the building of the Weymouth Campus.  At the end of every year the Servant Leaders will determine how much money from the fund will be used to pay down the current Heartland debt.  If future debts/ loans are incurred the money in this fund may also be used to reduce those debts as well.  If the fund contains more money than required to cover existing debts excess funds will be transferred to the general fund.  The administration of the fund, including all disbursements, is subject to the control and discretion of the Servant Leaders. The Servant Leaders may consider recommendations from anyone, but in no event is the team bound in any way to honor the recommendations. Donors will not be permitted to recover a contribution on the grounds that the team failed to honor the donor’s recommendation. The Servant Leaders can determine to close the fund if no debts exist and transfer any remaining money to the general fund.
  • Year End Campaign Fund – The church, in the exercise of its religious and charitable purposes, has established a year end campaign fund.  At the end of each year Heartland will choose to fund a cause either within the church or to benefit a local community charity or partnership. Church members will be asked to designate a year end gift to this fund. Heartland Leadership will set a financial goal for the fund and announce the go to the church at the start of the year end campaign.  All money received up to the stated goal will go to the stated cause or charity.  Money in excess of the goal may be transferred to the general fund or if the Servant Leaders choose it may also go to the cause or charity. The Servant Leaders may consider recommendations from anyone, but in no event is the team bound in any way to honor the recommendations. Donors will not be permitted to recover a contribution on the grounds that the team failed to honor the donor’s recommendation. If at any time in the future the Servant Leaders vote to close this fund, all the money in the fund at that time will go in the general fund of the church. 

Note: Other funds for special projects may be created on a temporary basis as determined by the Servant Leaders and the Administrative Team. Any money collected in excess of what is needed shall be returned to the General Fund.

GIVING POLICIES

1) The General Fund makes up the yearly operating budget of the church and is supported by undesignated giving.  A designated gift for a special approved project under the General Fund will not increase the yearly budget.

2) Any gift designated for a budget line item expense (under any fund) will be posted to that line item and will not increase the annual budget. 

3) The church will not accept gifts for ministries outside of the church asking to forward the donation to that ministry UNLESS the church has taken up an offering for a specific purpose for a specific time frame. The church encourages people to give directly to outside ministries that they would like to support.

4) The church can accept gifts of stock. Contact the Church Office for details on how to contribute stock. The value reflected on your contribution statement will be equal to the value of the stock when we receive it. Please note, the entire value of the stock may not be deductible or allowed by the IRS. We recommend that you confer with your tax advisor as to the exact value that you can deduct. 

5) The value of personal services donated is not deductible as a charitable contribution. The church relies heavily on volunteers to fulfill its ministry. However, donations of this type cannot be reflected on the individual’s record of giving.

6) We are often asked if one can just receive contribution credit for items bought for the church’s ministries instead of being reimbursed. We are always grateful for the generous spirit of our people and we want to do what we can to accommodate this request. We do have to establish an adequate trail to substantiate the gift, however. We ask these donors to go ahead and submit a check request for the reimbursement—approved by the appropriate ministry leader. They can then return the money as a contribution and designate it to the ministry that incurred the expense.

GIFTS TO INDIVIDUALS

Gifts designated to a specific individual do not qualify as charitable contributions under IRS regulations. Gifts designated as either a love offering or benevolence to a designated individual will be held until a decision is made as to whether the church can administer the funds. These gifts will not be reflected on the donor’s record of giving.

REFUNDING A CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION

A charitable contribution (undesignated) will not be returned to the donor. To refund the gift would be contrary to the basic definition of a charitable contribution and could have possible tax implications to the donor and potentially cause a liability to the church.

The church will make every reasonable effort to honor designated gifts; however, according to IRS regulations, in order for a gift to be considered a tax-deductible gift, the church must maintain full control over how the gift is used.

Refunds on a designated contribution will be handled in the following manner:

  • Mission Trip Designation – Gifts designated for individuals to cover mission trip expenses are considered tax deductible as long as the donor has the understanding that the designation is a suggestion and the gift is ultimately under the control of the church to use as it deems necessary. Donors need to understand when they designate a gift for a specific individual, any funds given above and beyond what is needed for that individual will be used as the church deems necessary to further its mission and purpose. Therefore, no refunds will be given. This holds true if the donor is the person going on the mission trip. Although the gift was designated, refunding it may cause conflicts between those who gave and also goes against the very definition of a charitable contribution.
  • Designated gifts for an approved fund or special project – Every reasonable effort will be made to use the designated gift for the purpose in which it was designated. However, if the fund or special project no longer exists, the church will transfer all remaining funds into the general fund where the donations will be used in the best interest of the church. The servant leaders and administrative team will decide how to use the funds.

CONTRIBUTION STATEMENTS

The church will provide, at least annually to donors, a record of cash contributions received in accordance with rules and regulations required by the IRS. Non-cash gifts will be acknowledged by letter as described above, in compliance with IRS rules and regulations.

YEAR OF CONTRIBUTION

The IRS provides clear guidelines with regard to the date of posting contributions, which we follow carefully. All contributions received or postmarked by December 31 will be included in that year’s contribution statement. If the contribution is received or postmarked after December 31, it will be included in the contribution statement of the year in which it is received/postmarked—regardless of the date on the check.

CONCLUSION

The church respects the donor’s decision to give as led by the Lord. The above policies are meant to provide guidance to the donor and the church body as well as comply with the applicable tax laws. The church reserves the right to refuse contributions that are not related to the primary purpose of the church, not in the best interest of the church, or those not qualified for tax purposes. The church also reserves the right to amend these policies at any time. Please call the Church office at 330-725-1948 for clarification or questions.