Author Topic: A check arrives in the mail ...  (Read 1329 times)

pterandon

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A check arrives in the mail ...
« on: September 03, 2012, 10:15:10 AM »
... what do you do in terms of follow-up?

Four times I've either felt blessed by a pastor's sermons on the web, or their in-person sermons when they were supply pastor. And so I've sent their home church a small check. (By publicizing this, there goes my eternal reward!  :P ) In all cases it would have been obvious from the letter that I'd never be able to attend worship, if only from the great distance.   Anyway, I haven't ever received an acknowledgment.  Sometimes I got to wondering if the check ever made it to them, etc., or frankly in cases where I knew the pastor personally, "Was it something I said?"

What say ye about the practice of sending of receipt letters?  I guess I don't care so much about getting a hand-written letter of praise, or a tax-return receipt, but was left pondering about the process. If were in fact  standard courtesy not to expect a busy financial secretary or senior pastor never to acknowledge random donations, that's okay too.

 It's interesting there have also been cases where I visit a church once on vacation, making it clear I'm only on vacation. But they insist on my address and send me newsletters for a long time-- this seems to be the other side of the coin.


« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 10:26:12 AM by Greg M. Johnson »

Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2012, 11:08:58 AM »
Standard procedure for tax purposes and for plain old common courtesy purposes is to send an acknowledgement of the gift.  A simple hand-written thank you note shouldn't be too much for a church staff member to muster if they don't have a formal IRS-approved receipting sytem (any decent church finance software program should have this built into it, though).  I was tempted to put off printing off receipts on behalf of a small organization I volunteer as Treasurer with just this weekend but decided against it.  The donor's generosity shouldn't be ignored by an organization, especially a Christian one.  My two cents for what it's worth.

George Erdner

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2012, 10:14:47 PM »
Given the expense of secretarial services, I suspect too many churches regard the returned canceled check as sufficient for acknowledgement purposes for taxes.

Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2012, 10:58:41 PM »
Given the expense of secretarial services, I suspect too many churches regard the returned canceled check as sufficient for acknowledgement purposes for taxes.

We've always had volunteer Treasurers and Financial Secretaries in my congregations, and a receipt or thank you would have been part of their duties.

George Erdner

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2012, 11:05:51 PM »
Given the expense of secretarial services, I suspect too many churches regard the returned canceled check as sufficient for acknowledgement purposes for taxes.

We've always had volunteer Treasurers and Financial Secretaries in my congregations, and a receipt or thank you would have been part of their duties.

Some congregations are blessed by being gifted with members who had the talents and inclination to volunteer those services. Some are blessed in other ways. I could share anecdotes about a congregation I knew of that had an incredible army of volunteer workers who would clean floors, windows, and walls as well as repairing leaky plumbing but no one in the entire congregation could balance a checkbook. But what would be the point?
 

Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2012, 11:11:08 PM »
Given the expense of secretarial services, I suspect too many churches regard the returned canceled check as sufficient for acknowledgement purposes for taxes.

We've always had volunteer Treasurers and Financial Secretaries in my congregations, and a receipt or thank you would have been part of their duties.

Some congregations are blessed by being gifted with members who had the talents and inclination to volunteer those services. Some are blessed in other ways. I could share anecdotes about a congregation I knew of that had an incredible army of volunteer workers who would clean floors, windows, and walls as well as repairing leaky plumbing but no one in the entire congregation could balance a checkbook. But what would be the point?

Good point.  The trusty short and sweet hand-written note in a Thank You card always works wonders even to this day.

George Erdner

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 11:53:45 PM »
Given the expense of secretarial services, I suspect too many churches regard the returned canceled check as sufficient for acknowledgement purposes for taxes.

We've always had volunteer Treasurers and Financial Secretaries in my congregations, and a receipt or thank you would have been part of their duties.

Some congregations are blessed by being gifted with members who had the talents and inclination to volunteer those services. Some are blessed in other ways. I could share anecdotes about a congregation I knew of that had an incredible army of volunteer workers who would clean floors, windows, and walls as well as repairing leaky plumbing but no one in the entire congregation could balance a checkbook. But what would be the point?

Good point.  The trusty short and sweet hand-written note in a Thank You card always works wonders even to this day.

Do those still exist? I can't remember the last time I got one of those.

Keith Falk

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2012, 12:40:46 AM »
It probably depends on the size of congregation and who opens the mail.  My guess is that if you ever attended the congregation I serve and mailed off a check a day or two later you would likely not receive a thank-you note.  Not because people are uncaring or the like; the counters wouldn't recognize the name and would likely assume you were a visiting relative or something along those lines.  I
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Eileen Smith

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2012, 08:04:17 AM »
If a check arrived in the mail with no note - I could understand not acknowledging it.  But if there is a note -- especially one of appreciation for a sermon --  it seems simple courtesy to respond.  Even if it is a congregation where someone other than the pastor is opening the mail - wouldn't a secretary or volunteer simply pass the note along?  These checks were gifts and there seems no excuse at all not to take a few minutes to pen a short thank you.  From what I understand, though the check may be a gift to the church, it was sent in thanksgiving for the ministry of the pastor.  I don't see it as an "official" duty of the treasurer to respond - rather the pastor should say, "thank you."  Adding my two cents as well....

David M. Frye, OblSB

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2012, 08:43:24 AM »
In my experience
  • My wife and I occasionally attend Mass at the local Catholic church. We write out checks for our offerings. The parish sends us an offering statement at the end of the year.
  • The local Episcopal church does the same thing.
  • As far as one-off visits are concerned, the presence of notes and their promptness is roughly correlated with size, meaning large churches provide these responses more often than small ones.
David M. Frye, OblSB

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Keith Falk

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2012, 10:48:33 AM »
If a check arrived in the mail with no note - I could understand not acknowledging it.  But if there is a note -- especially one of appreciation for a sermon --  it seems simple courtesy to respond.  Even if it is a congregation where someone other than the pastor is opening the mail - wouldn't a secretary or volunteer simply pass the note along?  These checks were gifts and there seems no excuse at all not to take a few minutes to pen a short thank you.  From what I understand, though the check may be a gift to the church, it was sent in thanksgiving for the ministry of the pastor.  I don't see it as an "official" duty of the treasurer to respond - rather the pastor should say, "thank you."  Adding my two cents as well....


I would love to assume that a note that was sent with a check would arrive where it is supposed to be.  Unfortunately, I can see (have experienced!) several times when notes/mail didn't end up where it was supposed to.  I don't want to get into what *should* happen - absolutely a note back would be courteous and appropriate - but rather what reality on the ground is (at least in my experience/hunches) for a one-time donation from a name no one recognizes with a non-local address.
Rev. Keith Falk, STS

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2012, 05:51:09 PM »
I guess my suggestion (for what it's worth) would be to adopt best practices as they relate to the IRS and non-profits . . . if an address is printed on the check, ask the Financial Secretary/Counters/Treasurer/overworked volunteer to enter the contact information into the church management software and send a quarterly or annual contribution statement.  Hopefully you all know most reputable church management/finance software programs have customizable messages you can include on the statements . . . a stewardship scripture verse or a heartfelt message from the pastor perhaps?  :)

pterandon

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Re: A check arrives in the mail ...
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2012, 09:01:02 AM »
Thanks for the replies, all.

In one situation, a young man gave a remarkable sermon on a one-time visit as supply pastor. He had (appropriately) dropped a line with an appeal for funds for his little mission congregation and spoke of his wishes to go on to advanced theological degree.  (He/ his mission congregation had been supported by some individual members of my congregation.)  I sent a few little checks mentioning his ministry to an address I got from these other donors, which was apparently the mother-church for the mission cong.  In THIS situation, not getting any acknowledgment was extra-perplexing, especially upon the news a year later that he wasn't involved with the mission anymore. Somehow it's tempting to tie the fact that he wasn't there anymore to the fact that the system didn't send acknowledgements. Were there disagreements? Did the money not get to "him"? 

In two others, I gave to pastors with larger, established congregations (and enough infrastructure to get great sermons out on the web).   No reply either.  Probably a different dynamic.

thanks for chatting.