Unrestricted, Designated, and Restricted Gifts

Are donor-restricted gifts a blessing or a curse? Often they are a blessing…especially when the church’s leadership is trying to raise money for a cause or project. A lot of churches take special offerings for specific missions (e.g. Mission of the Month). Others raise money for capital projects or to retire debt. But what about those gifts with strings attached that we aren’t asking for? What about those strings church boards put on certain unrestricted gifts?

The less strings, the better…as long as you have quality leadership. My general strategy is to use up any funds with strings attached first. The more freedom our leaders have, usually the better. They know the challenges and opportunities more than anyone else. I can already hear someone saying, “But what about accountability?” Donor restricted gifts are trying to control the leadership’s decisions…not hold them responsible (i.e. accountable) for those decisions. You hold them accountable by confronting poor decisions…usually through the Staff-Parish Relations Committee…and maybe voting for them to no longer be in leadership.


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The Step Chart on Steroids

The old “Grow One” Step Chart has been around for a long time. A number of churches have distributed a chart similar to this one during their pledge card or stewardship drive. The Step Chart actually was very convicting to me and led me to start tithing. The Step Chart is great for personally conviction, but not a great for assessing the success of growing generous givers.

When working with churches that are struggling financially, I developed a tool based on the Step Chart to help see if their people were growing or shrinking or staying the same in their giving. This is a tool to convict church leaders that they have an income problem…a generosity problem…and not an expense problem. This can also be a tool to provide comfort if you are growing generous givers, but the finances are still tight. Here’s how:


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Giving for Farmers & Ranchers

Most churches and pastors will want to completely avoid talking about money and giving in church, and their primary reason they usually give for doing so is, “What about the farmers?” I 100% agree that farmers and other small-business owners have a more difficult challenge in determining what they should give because their personal and business finances are so close tied together.

Can both farmers and the church have a win-win when it comes to giving? Yes, when farmers give commodities (grain, hay, cattle) directly to the church, that’s a win-win. Here’s how:

Episode 1

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