By Baptist Press and B&R
NASHVILLE — With many in the U.S. expected to give more money to charities this Christmas season, financial experts are advising a biblically based, focused and well-educated approach to charitable giving.
Christians should be careful to give their gifts to charities that have proven to be responsible stewards of God’s resources, said William Townes, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee vice president for convention finance.
“Due to the plethora of giving opportunities to deserving organizations, a well-reasoned approach to Christian giving should be both biblical in disposition and responsible in implementation,” Townes told Baptist Press. “Some principles to encourage responsible giving are to ensure that any potential recipients of your generosity align with your personal beliefs, provide strong fiscal accountability, and are efficiently and effectively carrying out their stated mission.”
Charitable giving to churches and nonprofit organizations affiliated with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has increased annually since 2011, the council reported, and is poised to continue rebounding from the 2008 recession.
Townes predicts what he terms the “perfect giving storm,” a season of increased giving accompanied by numerous charities competing for newly available dollars.
December 2014 could result in rebounding charitable giving, Townes said, “due to the abatement of individual economic dysphoria, new highs in the stock market, year-end tax incentives, increased discretionary income as a result of reduced fuel prices, lower unemployment figures, and most importantly the spirit of the Christmas season.”
As a result, “intentional, occasional, and even random givers may give above and beyond what they have given in the past,” Townes said.
Follow your heart when making donations, Townes advises, pointing to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions as a favorite.
“For many Southern Baptists, their affinity and giving through their local church allows them to fulfill both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, allowing their passion to be aligned with their giving to an accountable organization which has proven their ability to accomplish their mission,” Townes said. “
Bill Gruenewald, president of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation noted that Tennessee Baptists can rely on the fact that “the many missions and ministries supported through their church, the convention or Baptist Foundation have been vetted.”
Because of that, “they can give with confidence knowing their gift will go to a cause that is supported by their beliefs,” he said.
The Internal Revenue Service, on its irs.gov website, counsels to be alert to IRS regulations for tax deductions and plan your gifts for the greatest tax savings.
Gifts to all churches are tax-deductible, but contributors must itemize their taxes to deduct contributions. The IRS lists on its website all additional charities and agencies eligible to receive tax-deductible gifts.