Taking Stock of Major Gifts
Dear Fr. Zagloba,
I have great news about the matching grant! A few months ago, I mentioned the possibility of getting money from the Catholic Extension Society to help fix the roof. We’ve been approved for $10,000! I’m so excited about this.
Since this is a matching grant, that means that we’re going to have to raise money before we get the grant. The terms of the match are that they’ll match one dollar for every two dollars we raise. So to get the full $10,000, we’ll have to raise $20,000. We have six months to raise the funding, so we’ll want to start right away.
I’m thinking we should do a ‘fundraising goal’ display in the narthex that charts our progress, as well as information in the bulletin, a weekly social media update with how much closer we are to the goal, and weekly announcements during Mass. We have to make sure that people are aware of the need and the matching funds that are available.
Lock, Stock, and Barrel
I think that St. Catherine’s also needs a stockbroker. Hear me out. I don’t think that we should start day trading to try to hit our goal. That would be about as prudent as using our donations to purchase lottery tickets. Crazy. Actually, the stock account will open up a whole new way to take donations.
I’m not sure how many of our parishioners own stock, but I’d venture a guess that it’s more than you expect. Especially among our retirees. I know from my research that one of the big issues for retirees is that they hold a significant percentage of their assets in stocks. They have a problem when it comes to unrealized capital gains.
Say they bought 50 shares of stock in 1980 at $10 per share, and that it now sells for $150 per share. The initial $500 investment is now worth $7,500. Selling those stocks creates a $7,000 tax liability (the difference between the stock’s current value and its purchase price). So depending on their tax rate, they’ll have to pay somewhere between $700 and $1,400 in taxes. This will reduce the amount they are able to donate, as well as the amount that they will be able to deduct. It might even push them into a higher tax bracket and force them to pay higher taxes on ALL of their income. It’s a lose-lose-lose.
Not to worry, there’s a better way. If we set up a stock account, then they can make a gift of the shares directly to the account. Since they aren’t selling the stock, no taxable event takes place. Our account manager will then liquidate the stock and we can transfer the funds to our bank account. The donor will get the full tax benefit of their donation, without any of the tax liability. It’s a win-win-win!
We’ll need to let people know about this new option, so once it’s available you’ll need to tell them about it during announcements. We can also put the information in the bulletin, and if you’d like we can put together a brochure about stock gifts for the lobby. The big thing is to get the word out that we’re able to do it.
Take arms against a sea of Mammon
I can almost see you rolling your eyes at me. “Not another way to give… no more bulletin announcements!” I understand fundraising is not your favorite thing and you are rightly concerned that you don’t want people to think that all you talk about it money. You do run into the real danger of people thinking that this is just another way to squeeze another dime out of their pocket.
But let’s look at this with a more spiritual perspective. Part of the reason that the money conversation is so hard in parish life is that it’s right on the front lines in the battle between God and Mammon. Jesus said that we can’t serve two masters, but would love one and hate the other. Mammon throughout the ages has been identified with money and material wealth.
So, of course, any preaching that touches on the subject of giving to the Church has the potential to stir up this demonic hornet’s nest. The spirit of Mammon may dominate our age more than any period in human history. Our culture glories in and celebrates the lives of billionaires, while the lives of the Saints get dusty on a shelf in the corner. Rich is the new holy. And we wonder why our culture despises their Divine Savior. Jesus told us that this is the way it works.
When you engage in fundraising at our parish, you are taking the forces of Mammon captive and bringing them to serve the Kingdom of the Redeemer. Every gift to support the kingdom of God is a step out of the kingdom of Mammon and into the kingdom of our Eternal Father. And let’s be honest. Very few of our parishioners are paying a full tithe. Maybe a dozen. The rest are falling short in their giving. Part of the reason that people get upset when you start talking about money is that they feel convicted. They know they should be giving more but refuse. Whatever their reason might be.
When you preach giving in accordance with the commands of God, the kingdom of Mammon screams in protest. This is very much a spiritual warfare, and you need to pray in advance for the grace to conquer. You should armor yourself with charity and meekness, but arm yourself with the truth that instructing the ignorant is a work of mercy. They might not like it, they might protest, but ultimately you have their best interest at heart. You are on a rescue mission, and Mammon is the big bad guy that we have to conquer if we want to enjoy the glorious freedom of the Sons of God.
Nathan – The Almoner
P.S. You can probably get a self-managed stock account which is technically cheaper, but I think we need a human broker. Sometimes these gift transactions can be confusing and it is worth the expense to have a professional do it for us.
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