How Personal Giving is handled by the Church

Tithe - In recognition of the biblical plan and the solemn privilege and responsibility that rest upon members as children of God and members of His body, the Church, all are encouraged to faithfully return a tithe, one tenth of their increase or [gross] personal income, into the denomination’s treasury. Tithe shall not be used in any way by the local church, but held in trust and remitted to the conference treasurer. Thus tithe from all the churches flows into the conference treasury, and percentages are forwarded to the next-higher level in accordance with General Conference and division working policies to meet the expenses of conducting the work of God in their respective spheres of responsibility and activity. These policies have been developed for the gathering and disbursing of funds in all the world and for the conducting of the business affairs of the cause. The financial and business aspects of the work are of great importance. They cannot be separated from the proclamation of the message of salvation. They are indeed an integral part of it.

Systematic Benevolence and Unity—The financial plan of the Church serves a larger purpose than appears in its financial and statistical reports. The system of sharing the funds with the world fields, as outlined by General Conference Working Policy, serves a wonderful purpose of unifying the Church’s spiritual work throughout the world. You can find out more information by clicking the following link to Personal Giving Plan

How Tithe Is to Be Used—Tithe is held sacred for the work of the ministry, for Bible teaching, and for the support of conference administration in the care of the churches and of field outreach (missionary) endeavors. Tithe shall not be spent on other work, on paying church or institutional debts, or on building programs, except as approved under General Conference Working Policy. For more information on the use of tithe, see Notes, #1, p. 184. How Tithe Is Handled—Tithe is the Lord’s and is to be brought as an act of worship to the conference treasury through the church in which the person’s membership is held. Where unusual circumstances exist, members should consult with conference officers.

Church and Conference Officers to Set Example—Elders and other officers, as well as the pastor and conference and institutional employees, are expected to set good leadership examples by returning tithe. No one shall be continued as either a church officer or conference employee who does not conform to this standard of leadership. Offerings In addition to the tithe, Scripture emphasizes our obligation to bring offerings to the Lord. The withholding of offerings is classed with withholding tithe and is called robbery (Mal. 3:8). Since the Church’s earliest days, members have given liberal offerings that have blessed and prospered God’s work. In addition to the traditional calendar of offerings program, where each offering taken is for a specific purpose, the General Conference has approved the combined offering system and the personal giving plan. The division committee is authorized to determine which plan(s) will be used in its territory.

Sabbath School Offerings—The Church’s most widely used and successful method of regular systematic giving is through Sabbath School offerings, which are devoted to world mission work. Other Offerings—Other offerings are taken from time to time for world mission work and for general and local projects. When any offering is taken, all money collected, unless otherwise indicated by the donor, shall be counted as part of that particular offering.

Special Gifts to Fields—The financial support of the worldwide work of the Church is based on the budget system. Appropriations are made to the various fields on the basis of budgeted needs. This is a fair and equitable method of distributing the funds. Where special gifts outside the regular budget plan are made to a particular field, a disparity is created to the disadvantage of other fields. If such gifts are given for the purpose of starting new work, the work thus started may languish when the special gift is used up, or it may have to be included in the budget for its future support. Thus other fields, with perhaps greater needs but without the opportunity of making them known, would be deprived of their equitable part of general funds that would be diverted to the work started by special gifts. History has proved the wisdom of having members generously and loyally give their offerings and gifts through the accepted channels and knowing that every field shares in the benefits of their giving.

Church Budget for Local Expenses—The most satisfactory method of providing for church expenses is the budget plan. Before the beginning of the new budget year, the board should prepare a budget of expenses for church activities during the next year. The budget should include all income and expenses, including those related to all departments. It should provide for such projected costs as utilities, insurance, maintenance, janitor service, funds for the poor and needy, and church school expense. (See Notes, #2, p. 185, for sample budget.) The budget should be presented to the church for its study and adoption, and for plans to assure that funds shall be provided to balance the budget during the coming year. Funds to meet the church expense budget may be raised by offerings or subscriptions. Members should be urged to support their local church in proportion to their financial circumstances.

General Financial Counsel Regulation of Soliciting Funds—The following are regulations for soliciting funds:

1. No conference, church, or institution, without special counsel and arrangement, shall plan work requiring solicitation of funds from outside its territory. Any solicitation within its territory shall be in harmony with local, union, division, and General Conference policies. No authority is granted to denominational employees representing special interests in one part of the field to solicit help in any other part of the field or in any other conference without arrangement with and written authorization from conference officers where the fund-raising would take place.

2. The following principles protect churches from unauthorized, fraudulent, and undenominational solicitation:

   a. Pastors and officers shall not grant the privilege of the pulpit to persons for fundraising who have not been recognized or recommended by the conference. (See pp. 120, 121.) No permission shall be granted to solicit funds either publicly or privately without such recognition.

   b. All funds contributed for any cause in response to appeals shall be passed through regular church channels.

   c. Conference and church officers shall take such steps as may be necessary to prevent unauthorized or illegal public solicitation.

3. No campaign other than the Annual Appeal (Ingathering or equivalent appeal), which involves using Appeal literature and containers with authorized Appeal labels, shall be conducted for the solicitation of money for either home or overseas mission work. Unions and conferences should prevent violations of this regulation.

4. Interdivision employees visiting their home churches or otherwise communicating with their home bases are asked to solicit funds only for enterprises included in the budget of appropriations, working in cooperation with churches and conferences to raise the funds required to meet the appropriations on which our world mission work depends. All such funds shall be passed through regular channels.

Questionable Methods for Raising Funds—The local church should take a strong stand against questionable methods for raising money.

Tithes and Offerings Not a Personal Trust Fund—Tithes and offerings donated by members to the Church do not create a trust fund for the future benefit of the givers. These funds shall be used for the current purposes for which they are given. Financing Building Plans—Churches considering the purchase or erection of church or other buildings, or incurring debt of any kind, should counsel with conference officers before undertaking such financial obligations. In the purchase or building of church properties, in no case shall commitments be made or building operations begun until approval has been given by the conference and union committees. These committees will approve only after they have assured themselves that the financial arrangements conform to established policies. In giving financial counsel, the conference committee should consider the size of the congregation, its financial strength, and the location of the building.

Handling and Accounting for Funds—The gathering and handling of funds for the Lord’s work is a sacred responsibility. The proper channel through which these funds flow is first from members to the local church, where the treasurer receives the funds. (See pp. 82-86.) The treasurer disburses funds intended for local church purposes. The treasurer holds in trust and passes on to the conference treasurer funds intended for conference or general purposes. The treasurer of the local church works under the direction of the board. Treasurers of any level (local church, conference, union, or division/General Conference) do not act independently. They disburse funds only by action or authority of responsible committees.

Auditing—Every set of accounting records, from those of the local church to those of the General Conference, are subject to audit by auditors appointed for the purpose. This rule, which also applies to every denominationally affiliated institution, provides the maximum of safety in the handling of funds. (See pp. 85, 86.)

These excerpts were taken from the Chapter 11, Finance, Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 2015 edition