DONATIONS & Student Wrestles With Denominational Contribution

by Bob Whitesel, 6-7-15.

Many denominations require that a portion  of undesignated gifts be given to the denomination.  This has implications for a hypothetical “case study” I posted in this blog titled: DONATIONS & An Unexpected Windfall. A Case Study on Unexpected Donations .

However, other denominations allow moneys designated for Building Funds to be retained fully by the church.  This can lead to some unethical temptations.  Let me share what one student said about this, and my response.

Student Post:

I am actually not sure that in the (denominational name) we could get by with using (all) the monies as I speculated, because of the budget assessment.  I was told by our District Secretary if the money is not designated as a building fund income, we are supposed to pay budgets as general income.  Essentially, that would mean that 20% (the denominational cap for calculating budgets) of the money would be assessed the next church year as budget payments.  If I reported that we had received $500,000 in extra income, the District would allocate $100,000 in the following years’ budgets, which would include world missions, pensions and benefits for retired pastors, district operations, etc.  If I reported that we had received $500,000 as a donation for building, we would have the discretion to use it all for the building.  Any portion of that money that we put aside for other than building would be assessed budgets.  So, here is the bottom line.  I could choose to give the denomination $100,000 (20% of $500,000 counted as general income) if I don’t use the total for building purposes, or I can use $400,000 for building  and have $100,000 in additional income.  Budgets would be $20,000 (20% of $100,000 general income).

The $400,000 as building fund would essentially give us $80,000 unaccounted for so we could put some in savings and some for charitable contributions above the budget amount.  $500,000 as general income would give us $400,000 for whatever purposes we chose and $100,000 for the denomination to allocate for it’s works.

Personally, I would like to see my local church determine how the money is spent and that is going to be greatest facilitated if we apply the lion’s share of the money to a building project.

Now, I realize that other denominations operate differently and each case would have to be handled differently.  I do know that if we received a generous gift of $500,000, it would be difficult for the congregation to hand over $100,000 to the district to use at it’s discretion instead of working to accomplish a building that they have wanted to erect for a long time.
Here is my response:


Thanks for some soul searching.  You are right, many denominations have this same rule. And thus, since Miss Winnie gave it undesignated, ethically we should thus not designate it.  And, if all churches did this (instead of sometimes soliciting money for Building Funds that would have otherwise been undesignated) then the denomination would have more money and apportionments might be less.

Thanks for wrestling with this.
Dr. Whitesel