Launching a Care or Benevolence Fund at Your Church
A care fund is a practical, missional way to support people impacted by the coronavirus shutdown.
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
Is your church looking for a practical, missional way to support people impacted by the coronavirus shutdown?
Recently, a team at my church researched and created a fund to help meet the financial needs of church members and those in their relational spheres during the coronavirus shutdown.
It took a team of 4 about 3 hours total, over the course of 2 meetings and a dozen or so emails.
For any churches looking to set up something similar, here are a few things we had to consider:
- Tax deductible? If you want the gifts to be tax deductible, make sure they go into a fund set up by the organization rather than directly to individuals.
- For covid-19 only? We chose to keep the purpose of the fund open-ended, so raised funds could be used to meet financial needs beyond the pandemic.
- Who has access? Define the recipients before establishing the fund. The fund might be for residents of your town. For parishioners only. For anybody. Our church settled on regular worshippers and their friends and families. We’re asking that any applicants for financial assistance who aren’t regular worshippers have a referral from a regular worshipper.
- Loans or grants? We opted for grants, as the processing and record-keeping is much cleaner. Grants also fit more with the spirit of what we were trying to accomplish.
- Limitations on amount and frequency? Here, we opted to cap the initial grants at $500. We also capped any individual at 3 grants per year.
- Re-appropriate existing funds? Our church decided to re-appropriate existing expenditures made unnecessary by the coronavirus shutdown (things like office expenses and certain live service related expenses) toward the care fund.
- Who vets applicants? We created a basic form, linked from our church website and decided to leave vetting up to the staff, accountable to a small subcommittee.
The results so far have been encouraging, as we’ve raised thousands of dollars and been able to deliver at least 3 grants so far.
We spent most of our time on these 7 items, but I’m sure we discussed a few more important points. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive (or legal advice or accounting advice), but rather to give you a good starting point for establishing a similar fund at your church.
If you have any questions about setting up a fund like this one through FaithStreet or another giving provider, just email as at email@example.com.