Planned Giving and Missions
Melbourne E. Cuthbert
For many years missions, Christian schools, and local churches have received gifts through the wills of individuals. Bequests have often helped finance successful building programs and new thrusts in the ministries of these organizations. ABWE’s planned giving program is designed to better inform believers of the opportunities for giving through bequests and other plans such as trusts, gift annuities, and gifts of real estate and insurance. Many of these also offer opportunities for tax savings.
The planned giving ministry is twofold. It provides the following services:
1. Assistance for individuals who want to give. It helps them arrive at and implement a plan which will allow them to give in the wisest way.
2. Assistance for local churches that want to inform their people of the importance of a will and of planning their gifts.
ASSISTANCE FOR INDIVIDUALS
ABWE’s planned giving ministries provide these services for individuals in their gift planning and estate planning:
1. A quarterly newsletter, Dimensions in Giving, is sent to individuals and pastors. This informative publication contains helpful articles on personal planning, taxes, giving, and the proper use of time, talents, and treasure.
2. ABWE has published several booklets on the subject of wills, estate planning, and giving which are sent upon request to interested individuals free of charge (see list on page 144).
3. A large number of other booklets on wills, trusts, gift annuities, estate planning, giving for income, tax rules on giving, and gifts of stocks, life insurance, and real estate are also available upon request free of charge.
4. The Planned Giving Officers of ABWE meet with individuals for estate or gift planning and the preparation of giving documents, where appropriate.
5. ABWE acts as trustee for various charitable or giving trusts which are ultimately to be distributed to missions and other ministries.
6. ABWE operates gift annuity and charitable remainder trust programs for those who wish to give to missions and receive a lifetime income.
ASSISTANCE FOR CHURCHES
The Planned Giving Department has a number of ministries which assist local churches in their giving programs, particularly where planned or deferred gifts are involved.
1. Will Clinic programs. ABWE helps local churches plan and operate will clinics to encourage members to make or update wills for the protection of their families and the exercise of wise stewardship. See the fuller description below.
2. Estate Planning seminar. Often after a church will clinic, individuals are interested in a follow-up seminar on the various aspects of estate planning, including trusts, giving plans, and a more detailed analysis of tax laws and planning techniques. The seminar is available to individual churches or area-wide groups.
3. Dimensions in Giving. This newsletter is sent to thousands of pastors free of charge each quarter to help them inform their people about personal and gift planning. A large number of churches purchase Dimensions in bulk for distribution in bulletins, newsletter and mailings at a nominal fee to cover printing costs.
4. Booklets and brochures. The same information that is se to individuals may be ordered by pastors for their own use or for distribution to the church family in any quantity desired. For no ABWE publications, there is a per-booklet charge for bulk orders
5. Stewardship helps. The Planned Giving Officers are avail to help pastors and boards establish and implement plans which vu assist members with their planning and encourage bequests and other gifts to the local church. These include letters, bulletin announcements, suggestions for messages, and samples of literature.
6. ABWE offers gift program management for churches. Individuals interested in making a contribution to their church may set up a program, such as a gift annuity, with the church, and ABWE would supply calculations, agreements, counseling, tax advice, and administration of the gift.
ABWE’S CHURCH HELP MINISTRIES
The Will Clinic Program
Why have a will clinic? God’s people are properly concerned about good stewardship. We have taught in our churches the importance of supporting the local church, its missionaries, and schools. The emphasis in most stewardship teaching, however, is on the proper use of income. Little has been said about the stewardship of one’s total estate. All we have is on loan from God, and we are responsible for what happens to our property when we go on to glory, as well as for our use of His blessing while we live. Yet, over half of the adults in the United States have no will.
When we think of our responsibility to our families, to our churches, and to the Lord’s work, this is a frightening statistic. The absence of a will can devastate a Christian family, particularly when children who are left without parents end up in the hands of unsaved relatives.
ABWE wants Christians in our supporting churches to realize the importance of having a will. We believe it is essential for every Christian. We are also convinced that this emphasis on good stewardship can be beneficial to the Lord’s work. Our purpose is to help our supporting churches minister to their people in this area. We do not stress gifts to ABWE; however, if someone demonstrates an interest in that area, we are happy to help them investigate the possibilities. We find that churches realize significant benefits from this program.
What does a will clinic include? The clinic begins with a brief devotional which builds a scriptural foundation for planning. After examining reasons why people do not make wills, we spend the bulk of the time discussing the problems that result when an individual dies without a will and contrast these with the benefits of having a valid will in force at death. A brief look at the basic parts of a will and some crucial questions often asked about wills concludes the clinic, and the audience is then encouraged to ask questions. This program takes about one and one-half hour�s altogether but may be shortened for use in adult Sunday school classes or training hour groups, if necessary.
The successful will clinic produces results in two areas:
1. Wills are written or updated
2. Gifts are made to the local church and other ministries
The key to this is not so much the will clinic but the interviews which follow. Attendance is taken at the clinic, and an appointment sheet is provided for interested people to sign up for a personal interview. These interviews are held at the church. The purpose of the interview is to determine how best to correlate each one’s estate with the goals he wishes to accomplish for himself, for his family, and for the Lord’s work.
How does the church have a successful will clinic? Remember that the clinic is the church’s program; ABWE only supplies the expertise for this particular aspect of stewardship. It is important to work hard to get members interested. The goal is to have as many as possible who need to either have wills prepared or review their wills.
All age groups can benefit from this clinic. Young couples will generally come because of their concern over guardianship. They are the easiest ones to reach with a will clinic. Middle-aged members realize the need to update their wills in light of grown children and retirement planning. Senior members are aware of th’ importance of updating their estate plans due to changing family needs and living circumstances.
Summary of benefits: Careful attention to making and updating wills and estate plans motivates church members to better plan for their future and families. The local church will strengthen its ministry to members and the community. ABWE will develop closer relationship with its supporting churches and increase ministry in their lives. The Lord’s work benefits as believers sense the importance and ease of good stewardship and the impact t can have in the work of the gospel through careful planning.
The Estate Planning Seminar
This seminar is designed for the average church member covers these areas:
Family Income Protection
Estate and Gift Taxation
The Ingredients of an Estate Plan
Charitable Estate Planning
We also consider life insurance, estimating needs, supplementing basic programs, the most recent laws, maximizing tax credits and deductions, and planned gifts to the local church and other Christian organizations.
The seminar was originally designed to follow our will clinic. It can also be used by itself to present the advantage of estate planning and its importance in stewardship. The seminar can be given in either one and one-half hours or three hours, depending on the degree of detail desired. In either case, time is allowed for discussion.
At the seminar we provide brochures, booklets, and other material on planned giving opportunities. ABWE’s Planned Giving Director is available up to four days following a seminar for personal conferences with those desiring more information. These conferences are usually held in the church and require facilities with adequate privacy. Counselees are assured of absolute confidence.
Many pastors have seen this seminar benefit their people. ABWE’s Planned Giving Director has seen hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts to local churches return from both the will clinics and estate planning seminars. God is using the concept of planned giving to produce more assets for His work.
Training God’s people in stewardship aids His work through our local churches, schools, and missions. Let us help you assist your people with our expertise. Please write or call for more information or possible dates for future seminars.
The following two books may help in understanding planned giving and how it works:
Before You Give Another Dime, by Robert F. Sharpe (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1979)
Leave Your House in Order, by John G. Watts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1979, revised 1983)
You may write to ABWE for more information on Planned Giving Ministries. The following booklets and brochures are available on an individual basis free of charge. Call or write the Planned Giving Department for information on multiple copies.
Benefits of Planned Giving
Dear Mr. Davis
Is No Will God’s Will?
Estate Planning Made Easy
The Trust: A Planning Tool for Living and Giving
Memo to My Loved Ones
Deferred Payment Gift Annuity
Eleven Things to Remember
Giving Real Estate
Giving Through Gift Annuities
Giving Through Life Income Plans
Giving Through Life Insurance
Giving Through Revocable Living Trusts
Giving Through Your Will
Twenty-seven Things the Pastor Can Do to Encourage Bequests
You Never Need to Change Your Will Unless. . .
Your Guide to Effective Giving
Woman’s Financial Planner
The above article, “Planned Giving and Missions” was written by Melbourne E. Cuthbert. The article was excerpted from chapter four in Cuthbert’s book, Managing Missions in the Local Church.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”