Gifts Should be Unrestricted

Q. We are developing a policy on accepting gifts to our congregation. We want to accept them, but many come with stringent conditions and restrictions. What should we do?

A. Congregations should develop and publicize a policy informing potential donors that the church reserves the right to accept or decline unsolicited gifts and that some gifts may be returned or otherwise disposed of if they are considered unsuitable, says Rev. Ralph Mero, the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA's) church staff finances director.

Ask that gifts be unrestricted so that they can be used for "the mission or programs of the congregation." This is especially so in the case of gifts to the endowment. It also clearly makes the gifts tax deductible.

On the other hand, sometimes special gifts may be solicited for specific causes such as social action projects, supporting a local community cause, supporting a seminary student, emergency facility repairs that have not been budgeted, etc.

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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