Frequently Asked Questions RSS Feed
How much of my gift will go to what I want to support (project, missionary, program, etc.), and how much is used for “overhead”?

FAQs

Answer: We share your desire to see as much of every donation going to share Christ’s love and mercy with others. We also have a strong desire to fulfill the legal/regulatory, ethical and moral obligations we have to those who partner with us. Fulfilling those obligations means the LCMS bears some necessary costs, which must somehow be financed.

In 2016, the LCMS Board of Directors established a policy that sets a minimum percentage for each charitable gift that must be allocated to directly fulfill donor intent ("ministry"), and a percentage that sets a ceiling for how much can be expended to engage and serve those who make charitable donations to the LCMS (the latter is our definition of “overhead”). The policy gives the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) authority to set the percentage ratio between ministry and overhead based on data drawn from the Synod’s audited financial statements.

For the LCMS current fiscal year 2018 (FY18), notwithstanding any exceptions for a special campaign authorized by the Board of Directors, the Board endorses the CFO's determination that a minimum of 88% of donated funds must be used to fulfill the purpose the donor intends to support, and no more than 12% may be reinvested back into our relationship with contributors or to engage new contributors. No portion of a donor-restricted gift may be used for costs unrelated to the purpose the donor intends to support, such as cutting the lawn at the International Center, purchasing new or replacement furnishings, or paying the salaries of Convention-elected officers.

The maximum ceiling the Board would ever allow across the board or for a special campaign is 33% — the limit of “prudence” defined by several donor advocacy/protection groups like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and Guidestar. Visit overheadmyth.com to learn more.

Update:

In the wake of successive natural disasters in 2017, the Synod’s Board of Directors is anticipating a greater-than-normal charitable response for LCMS relief and recovery efforts than was originally budgeted for FY18. In a unanimous vote, the Board authorized a change in the allocation ratio for disaster-response gifts (Harvey, Irma and Maria Relief) to 94%/6% for the duration of the initial relief effort, and reserves the right to make additional adjustments moving forward. This means a minimum of 94% of every donation for LCMS Disaster Response must be made available to carry out disaster relief, recovery and restoration work. No more than 6% may be spent on engaging donors and fulfilling the obligations we have back to donors.

This ratio should be viewed as an estimate of final outcomes, when the true picture of charitable response and related costs is known. The allocation of 6% funds only those costs incurred to solicit and receive disaster-related gifts, care for and communication with contributors, in compliance with FASB Statement 116 (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). No portion of a disaster gift can or will be used to fund LCMS administrative expenses that are separate from disaster-related work.

For more information about this allocation ratio policy and its impact, please contact the executive director of LCMS Mission Advancement at 800-248-1930, ext. 1315.

 

Do you store my credit or debit card information when I make an online gift?

FAQs
Answer:
Partially.  We do not receive enough personal financial information about you and the card you use to risk an unauthorized transaction being made against your card

The LCMS does NOT receive, cannot access and thus could not store: the full credit/debit card account number; the type of card used (Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover Card), the expiration date of the card used, or the CSC code (card security code).  The forms we use transmit payment information directly to Blackbaud Payment Services, the vendor we’ve selected to process an authorized donation by credit or debit card.  Blackbaud Payment Services has access to the merchant services system common to business and nonprofits for credit and debit card transactions.

All data you provide is entered into an encrypted form (look for the URL to begin with “https://” not “http://”) and transmitted in an encrypted form directly to Blackbaud Payment Services, not to the LCMS.  Our vendor uses the same security protocols and procedural standards used by more familiar payment companies such as PayPal.

From our processing vendor (Blackbaud Payment Services) we DO receive and securely store the minimum amount of information required to accurately record and receipt your donation under IRS regulations and other laws, and to help us resolve any donor services issues.  The only information we receive is your: name (as you provided it in the donation form), the mailing/billing address you provided on the donation form (to ensure you and not someone else receives credit in our records for the donation), the amount of your donation, any restrictions placed on the use of the gift, your telephone number (to use in the unlikely event there is a problem), your e-mail address (so that the e-receipt can be sent to your preferred e-mail account), the last four digits of the credit/debit card you used and a unique transaction code for the specific donation.

We believe the approach we’ve taken to receive donations by credit or debit card offers industry standard protections on your personal financial information, and can be trusted to place appropriate privacy controls between you and the LCMS. Contact us at 888-930-4438 if you want to know more about the systems, policies and procedures we use to protect you and your privacy.

 

Will the LCMS allow donations to be made using my PayPal account?

PayPalAnswer: We are moving in that direction. In the response to Hurricane Harvey, donors who used our text-to-donate option were provided the option of using PayPal, as a test of that system’s integration with our accounting, banking and donation record-keeping systems. The results of that initial test could lead to the integration of PayPal into our standard online donation forms.

PayPal is a partner with Blackbaud — the company we use to provide donor support systems — in providing nonprofit donation options. As we continue to examine the integration options, know that the forms and processes we currently use (including the use of Blackbaud Merchant Services) meet the same industry standards as PayPal and other well known trusted financial services providers.

 

What is your tax identification number?

Answer: The tax identification number (also called an EIN) for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122 is:

43-0658188

We are a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the Internal Revenue Service code.


What reassurance can you provide that the LCMS will use my donation for the purpose I intend?

Answer: It is in our best interest to abide by donor intent. We understand that future donations hinge on trust between the donor and us as the recipient, and the redirection of a donation without the knowledge and consent of the donor is, in fact, a breach of trust.

We abide by the ALDE Donor Bill of Rights and ALDE Code of Ethical Principles and Practices (Association of Lutheran Development Executives), and the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and AFP: A Donor Bill of Rights (Association of Fundraising Professionals), which include commitments to honor donor intent.

The bottom line: If we are unable to utilize a donation according to the restrictions imposed by a donor, we will be forthright in stating so up front. We will explain our position as clearly as possible. We will present alternate uses in an attempt to find a use that is mutually-beneficial and agreeable to both parties. Failing at that, we will return the gift (check) or execute a refund of the donation.

What is a ‘tribute’ (memorial or honorarium) gift?

Answer: A ‘tribute’ (memorial/honorarium) gift is a donation which specifically remembers or acknowledges someone other than the donor. These kinds of gifts are made on special occasion, like a birthday, anniversary or wedding; or in memory of someone a loved one who has been called from this earthly life.

The LCMS will notify the individual honored, or the closest relative (spouse, children, etc.) of the deceased being memorialized when the donor provides the relevant information (name, address, city, state, zip, etc.).

Will I receive a tax receipt for my online donation?

Answer: When you give online, an electronic confirmation acknowledgement is automatically sent to the email address you provide in the giving form. For contributions where no goods or services were received in return, the acknowledgement serves as your tax receipt.

If you wish to receive an official LCMS tax-deductible gift receipt, simply call Mission Advancement at 888-930-4438. Online gifts will also be reported to donors on the year-end summary statement of donations, typically mailed in mid- to late-February.

In certain situations, the LCMS is prohibited by IRS regulations from acknowledging a donation as a qualified tax-deductible gift. These situations are outlined in IRS Publication 526 (Download), and typically involve donations that do not directly benefit the budgeted work of the LCMS or its programs. Online donation options are consistently tax-deductible.

Is my online gift safe and secure?

Answer: We take information security very seriously and make every reasonable effort to ensure that your on-line transactions at our Web Site are safe.

The forms we use capture and transmit personal and financial data directly to our credit/debit card processing company (Blackbaud Payment Services) using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to protect information you may submit on our site. SSL is the industry standard protocol.

When making an online donation, check to make sure the donation form web address, or URL, begins with “https” which indicates you are entering data into a secure, encrypted form. We do not receive detailed information from Blackbaud Payment Services about the card you use that would allow a person to initiate unauthorized transactions.

We do receive and store in a secure environment those pieces of information required to accurately record (credit) your donation, issue you an IRS-compliant deductible gift receipt, and perform any additional donor-care that may be necessary or helpful.

What is a ‘security code’? (A piece of information requested and required when completing an online donation form.)

Answer: A security code is a feature on most credit cards to help secure and validate online credit card transactions. It is a three or four-digit number that usually appears on the back of the card on or near the signature block. American Express card users will find it on the front of the card.

The security code is not the raised account number on the card. It is typically printed on the card and appears as the last three or four digits after your account number. The security code verifies that you have the card in your possession while making a transaction.

Visa, MasterCard, Discover

American Express®



 

This piece of information is required in our online donation forms to ensure that the individual completing the form is in possession of the actual credit card, to prevent a hacker from using the online donation form to harvest valid credit card numbers by entering randomly generated 16-diget numbers, or similar fraudulent activities.

How do I put the LCMS, or one of its ministry areas, in my will or part of my estate plan?

Answer: We recommend working with an attorney and the LCMS Foundation to develop or update a charitable giving plan that meets your long-term financial goals and estate planning needs.

For a simple will, a statement like the following is almost always sufficient:

 

I bequeath (dollar amount) (percentage of my estate) to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, Missouri 63122.

 

The staff of Mission Advancement can recommend additional wording to restrict an estate gift to a specific ministry or program area, or a specific use that fulfills your intent. We commend unrestricted or other ‘where needed most’ types of estate gifts rather than named programs, as programs and ministry names may change or even end over time.

The LCMS and Mission Advancement also recommend working with or through the LCMS Foundation, which provides specialized estate planning and trust management services.

The staff at LCMS will work with you to develop a charitable giving plan that meets your long-term financial goals and estate planning needs. For more information, please visit the Planned Giving page.

Join us on the journey

Lutherans Engage the World

Lutheran Engage the WorldEngaging the Church in the work of witness and mercy across the globe in our life together.

Read now

 

The Lutheran Witness

The Lutheran WitnessSubscribe to the digital edition of The Lutheran Witness

Subscribe

Concordia Publishing House

Concordia Publishing House