Smarter stewardship benefits the ministry and your family.
There is this great little bakery that my family loves. I couldn’t even tell you what it’s called because we refer to it as “The Cash Only Bakery.” I was quite embarrassed when I offered to take good friends to that bakery…my treat! We ordered our food and I pulled out my debit card. The woman behind the counter seemed a bit weary saying it again as she tapped on the sign taped to the counter that said “CASH ONLY.” I don’t frequently carry cash and my friends were kind enough to cover the bill.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American family has about 11% of their total assets in cash (this includes CDs, money markets, savings, cash and checking). Everything else is in the form of non-cash assets…our stuff. Investments in publicly traded stock are a big item and investments by business owners in their own companies is at the top of the chart as well. Real Estate is way up on the list too. These statistics represent all Americans and Christian givers are no exception. When you really look at it, Christians in America have way more “stuff” than they have cash.
Christians are charitable and many give to their church as well as ministries they care about. When we are asked to give, we generally associate that with cash giving or writing a check.
Look at the Bible. There are certainly examples of folks giving money, but there are also very meaningful gifts in the Bible that were not cash. We see the example of Abel giving the best of his crops. In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene pours out expensive perfume on Jesus before his death. We see another example from the book of Acts:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had… For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
According to the IRS, only about 25% of charitable giving includes gifts of assets while the vast majority are gifts of cash. Christians are giving and being asked to give cash, a small portion of our assets, while more abundant resources are being neglected.
The benefits of non-cash giving.
For a family to write a check to a ministry, they have to have cash in the bank. Wealth, for many of us, may be tied up in other assets. Even wealthy donors may have cash flow issues and struggle with liquidity. Much of the real estate, family businesses, investments and other assets that a family owns were purchased for a cost that is much lower than today’s value. In order to turn these assets into more cash, they must be sold and taxes must be paid. Turning assets to cash may cause a painful tax burden.
With only so much cash to give, Christians must decide what piece of the pie they are willing to give to each ministry. There is a better way to support the church and ministries we care about.
Giving more & giving more efficiently.
If Christian families were to give appreciated assets, they could avoid paying taxes on the gain; because most ministries are tax exempt entities, they won’t pay tax either. You can maintain your liquidity and keep your cash while giving more! Most donors who learn to give non-cash gifts prefer to continue giving more generously through these gifts. Here are a few of the many examples:
- Small business and big giving.