A Minister’s Discretionary Fund (or Help Fund) is usually a separate checking account that the minister or pastoral care team can use to provide confidential assistance to those facing emergency financial need, for congregational or community programs in need of seed money, or for other tax-exempt purposes stated in board policy.
Suggested Practices and Policies
Contributions to the fund may be made by individuals or by allocations by the board or from the operating budget.
To allow contributions to be tax-deductible, no contribution may be designated for the benefit of any particular recipient.
No distribution may be made to the minister or to any member of their family at any time.
Any distribution to a church employee must be paid through payroll so that payroll taxes and reporting are correctly calculated and reported.
If cash or gift cards are disbursed, there should be a log book including the date and amount of the gift card and it's purpose.
The minister should provide an annual report to the board with all amounts paid out by the fund, listing dates and purposes of the payments (but not the names of recipients).
The Treasurer should review the canceled checks and receipts to confirm adherence to the written policy, and will keep confidentiality around any details.
Records should be kept in a locked file by the church.