Gifts Policy and the Gifts Commission
(A Proposed Model)
This Gifts Policy is established to protect and serve the long-term interests of the congregation, so that it may faithfully and properly manage and steward the assets and resources donated to further its mission. These may be testamentary gifts; money designated for certain special projects or intentions; gifts of real or virtual property; financial instruments; and/or other material goods donated to the congregation with or without special designations or instructions.
The Gifts Commission shall have over-sight of this policy and three primary areas of responsibility: the receiving, the refusing (when necessary) and/or the retiring of gifts given to the congregation. The Gifts Commission may also make recommendations (to the appropriate governing body) as to the direction of non-designated gifts if no other policy applies (or is appropriate to) the direction of those gifts.
The church shall sell (as soon as reasonable and prudent practice shall allow), all gifts made in the form of stocks, bonds, or other fiduciary instruments. The donor (or estate) shall be receipted the full value of the stock or fiduciary instrument on the date the church takes possession of said instrument, with the church (not the donor) paying all commissions and required fees. In the case of real estate or other items of real property, (as circumstance dictate), acceptance of the gift shall be provisional pending the appropriate valuations (appraisals), inspections for deficiencies, review of attached contracts which would be binding on the church, or other instruments of ownership are adequately reviewed and the acceptance of said property is deemed to be of prudent risk or acceptable condition.
The Gifts Commission shall meet to consider the receiving of gifts that are considered “non-ordinary”, meaning that they are not a part of the regular offering or anticipated gifts toward the general/non-designated expenses of the congregation’s general operating, capital, or named mission/memorial/endowment funds. The goal of the commission is to be able to facilitate and honor the donor’s intent, while keeping in the mind the vision, mission, ethics and normal operating values that govern all of the congregation’s decision-making practices. A gift that honors the intention of the giver and facilitates necessary mission and ministry for the congregation is the ideal toward which both donor and Gifts Commission shall strive. This may include suggesting alternatives to either the form/nature/instrument of the gift or the required designation.
Funds or assets from sources that are inconsistent with our moral and/or ethical values, or which a person of reasonable prudence may be expected to reject or willfully forfeit shall be refused. Bitcoins or other “crypto currencies” will not be accepted due to nefarious nature of the platform from which they originate and the current lack of a standardized and established system for their legal transfer. Items in which the cost to receive the gift is greater than the actual value of the asset (or that asset’s ultimate perceived value to the congregation) shall be refused. Gifts upon which the restrictions or designations are inconsistent with the current goals, mission, or values of the congregation; or those which the Official Governing Body of the church deems unacceptable shall be conditions for refusal. The Commission may find other reasons which would make a gift unacceptable beyond those listed here. When a gift is refused, the Gifts Commission should do all that it reasonably can to seek to honor the donor’s intention of generosity and shall therefore seek acceptable alternatives (for both the donor and the congregation), providing such alternatives are available. Christian decorum, politeness, and gratitude should be the operative attitude in time of such negotiations and should prevail even if a satisfactory solution which makes receiving the gift possible cannot be found.
The church shall make as conditional to the receiving of any tangible gift the understanding that all such assets have beneficial life spans and it shall be solely in the church’s purview to determine when a gift has become no longer usable due to the cost of repair, obsolescence, the normal “wear and tear” of time or use, or the ability of the item to either function in the capacity for which it was given or the continued need for item in the current context of the congregation’s life. The church shall have the right to dispose of said item (including the sale or gifting of said item) as it sees fit. It may consider returning the item to the donor or donor’s family; and when appropriate shall publicly (or privately) in the context of worship or other proper setting, celebrate and acknowledge the gift, its service to the church, and the generosity of its benefactor.
Appeal of Commission’s Decisions:
Should a qualified member of the congregation object to a decision of the Gifts Commission, the specific issue in question may be presented to the Official Governing Body for review and vote. The Official Governing Body’s decision shall be the final and binding word on the matter brought for appeal. If the decision is made to reverse a decision of the Gifts Commission relative to a gift designated for retirement, the question should be revisited annually for review and vote to sustain or ultimately override the objection.
Terms of Office:
The Gifts Commission shall consist of at least three members, who are appointed annually by the Chair of the Congregation, and it shall meet at least one time per calendar year. Other meetings may be scheduled as necessary. Terms of service shall be three years, with one opportunity to serve a single consecutive term. Terms will be staggered so that only one member is appointed in each calendar year.
This policy may be amended via the same manner that pertains to other similar policies as prescribed in the congregation’s By-laws or other governing documents.