If you’re like most people who’ve given charitable contributions in the past, your mailbox is probably filling up with requests for at least “one more donation” at year’s end.
Many nonprofits receive 30 to 40 percent of their income in December, when donors are feeling especially generous and want to take advantage of tax deductions for charitable donations, notes Mark Hofman, executive director of LCMS Mission Advancement.
Hofman has some advice for those who are considering an end-of-year gift:
- Take care of your home congregation first. “I believe firmly that financially healthy Lutheran congregations are in the best position to support Lutheran organizations, and that ultimately helps build a stronger, more cohesive Synod,” he says.
- “Be intentional” with charitable gifts. “What do you want each donation you make to accomplish?” he asks. “Focus on recipient organizations whose mission or programs will help you have the kind of impact you wish to see.”
Hofman is passionate about the Synod’s Global Mission Fund, “a very agile fund that helps [the LCMS] do a number of things in a very cost-effective manner, while ensuring gifts go out into the field and fulfill our mission as a church body.” But, he adds, his staff in Mission Advancement will always assist donors and potential donors in selecting the specific gift designation that best aligns with their specific charitable goals for sharing the Gospel.
Contributions to the Global Mission Fund are used “where needed most” under a budget approved by the Synod’s Board of Directors to underwrite work in the U.S. and abroad at the time the gift is given. This is to ensure that the gift will have an immediate and meaningful impact, Hofman noted.
“These aren’t dollars we use to cut the grass or replace furniture for the International Center,” he said. “When critical work needs to be done in the Lord’s harvest field, and specific designated gifts are either unavailable or insufficient to fund the work, we can draw from the Global Mission Fund to get or keep those vital efforts going. That fund was intentionally designed to be mutually-beneficial, meeting the need of both donor and Synod to spread the Gospel effectively and efficiently.”
The fund can support any Witness, Mercy, Life Together work of the Synod, such as recruiting and deploying new missionaries, responding to disasters, feeding the hungry, comforting the distressed, building the capacity of LCMS partner church bodies and planting churches.
“This is unique to our Lord’s bride, the church,” he says. “Christians, and especially Lutheran Christians, give others a gift that goes on forever, which is the Good News of a crucified and risen Lord through whom we receive eternal life. With every gift made to the local congregation on up through Synod, donors tangibly proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ for the purpose of bringing others to faith or strengthening the faith of fellow believers. There is a joy in that act which can only come when a person gives.”
Individuals, families and organizations considering a year-end gift to the LCMS intended to share the Gospel around the world are encouraged to visit the “Make A Gift” LCMS web page, where a variety of opportunities to “touch lives through the work of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” are presented.
The “Make a Gift” website includes links for — and descriptions of — the Global Mission Fund, Together as Synod (benefiting the mission and ministry of the LCMS), National Mission (supporting programs and resources, within the United States, through the LCMS Office of National Mission) and International Mission (enhancing the work of the LCMS Office of International Mission as it recruits, trains, sends and cares for missionaries, human-care workers, international educators and military chaplains across the globe).
Also listed on the site are ways to give (through the U.S. postal service, online or by telephone), holiday hours and dates of operation for the Synod’s International Center in St. Louis, answers to Frequently Asked Questions about charitable giving, and information on how to contact Mission Advancement staff.
The amount of a gift is less critical than the actual commitment to give, Hofman said, and he encourages Lutherans to make end-of-year offerings “as the Holy Spirit moves in the heart and the Father provides what can be given.”
No gift is too small or too large. “You don’t need to be a $1,000 donor to be personally connected to the work we do as a church,” he said. “We rejoice over every single donor who partners with us.”
“God’s will includes His desire that we love our neighbor, openly share the Gospel, teach [others] about Christ, baptize, make fellow disciples — and giving does that,” he said.