What Churches Should Know Before Supporting Missions

Written by Emma Voon on Dec 11, 2018 in Church Management

Are you aware that there are rules governing how a church, ministry, and even a for-profit business can participate in overseas activities? 

If your organization plans to or is already giving to missions, there are some important administrative and legal matters to consider before donating.

Anti-Terrorism Policy

Every church, ministry, and for-profit arm must have what’s called an anti-terrorism policy in place. All U.S. businesses are required to ensure that overseas activities refrain from benefiting terrorist organizations.

Yes, your organization is allowed to donate funds outside of the United States; however, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

A church engaging in missions work must limit foreign activities to those that further its exempt purpose. The church must retain control over the use of its funds in other nations. This is the same for all tax-exempt organizations (see Revenue Ruling 68-489).

All organizations, including churches, as well as U.S. citizens are prohibited from making transactions with certain corporations and people who commit, or threaten to commit, terrorism. There are also countries that citizens are prohibited from visiting (see Executive Order 12947 and 13099).

Before your church supports any foreign organization, you should confirm that it’s okay to transact business by searching for the entity on the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s list of sanctioned countries, companies, and individuals The “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List” and the “List of Sanctioned Countries” are specific sections to be checked. These lists can be found here. This lists terrorist organizations and individuals and is over 1,200 pages in length.

Considering these guidelines, it’s important for your church to establish an anti-terrorism policy. This is a policy that we give to all churches and ministries that go through our StartRIGHT Program. For more information about how this applies to your church or ministry, give us a call at 877-494-4655.

Establish This Policy!

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Include missions in the budget

I have talked to so many pastors and ministry leaders who have amazing and unique visions for their organizations. Many times, the budget is also based off of their vision. 

To give an example, I spoke with a man who built homes for individuals battling terminal illnesses; since this was his vision, a majority of the budget went to building supplies, land, housing items, etc.

If overseas missions is a large part of your vision, it may also be a large part of the budget. Take time to consider how much of the budget should be designated for giving to the mission field. 

You may find that taking up a specific offering for upcoming trips, or the mission fund as a whole, will be beneficial to building that area of finances. I know finances can be overwhelming, and I encourage you to reach out to StartCHURCH to get connected with our team of Bookkeepers; this team is specifically designed to make the financial area of your church easier!

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Thoughtful consideration

Before supporting a missions organization, I encourage you to thoughtfully consider these five things.

  1. Know to whom you are giving and why.
  2. Document that you have checked the website of the Office of Foreign Asset Control to be sure you can support and send funds to the nation where they are operating. 
  3. Take note of the ministry agreement for use of the funds. 
  4. Require a financial report from the ministry to be sure it is properly using the funds. Send a representative from your organization to oversee necessary purchases, and verify the funds have been properly used.
  5. Withdraw funding immediately if the preset agreement is violated.

A priceless cause

There is no price we can place on the individuals who will hear the Gospel for the first time through a missionary you supported. Above all, we should support missions for the honor and glory of God. Giving to missions is so important, but you want to be mindful of the above considerations beforehand.

If you have given to a mission organization in the past or plan to give to an organization and have questions about what was discussed in this blog, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 877-494-4655.

Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

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