Creating additional subcategories of Ward Missionary Fund

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
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gregwanderson
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Creating additional subcategories of Ward Missionary Fund

Postby gregwanderson » Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:20 am

In our ward, a family donated $100 each month for over a year before their son started his mission. They wanted to lessen the financial burden when he started. With CUBS, I have no way to track this within MLS and would be forced to use some other system (an external spreadsheet or a piece of paper) to make sure these funds were earmarked. Or I would have to risk offending the donor by insisting they "donate" to their own savings account for now and stop bothering the ward until their son is on his mission and CUBS can make a place for their donations.

In our case, the Stake President saw the Ward Mission total and bugged our bishop about it. The Bishop, however, could see a subcategory in MLS to explain the situation. With CUBS, the Bishop won't even get to have that "explanation" in the MLS report. He won't know that the "Smith" family is "paying in advance" for a mission. And when the Stake President insists that the ward needs to give away its "excess" missionary funds...

EDIT (by Alan_Brown): This topic is different from the thread it was initially in (Nice to have "General" sub-category of Ward Missionary Fund) so I moved it to a new thread, and removed the first sentence, which no longer applies.

atticusewig
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Post-CUBS solution - Use OT:AMFA

Postby atticusewig » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:54 am

If a family prepays a missionary's expenses, I would recommend using

Other:Authorized Member Financed Activity-Mission Pre-Pay-Elder Billy Smith.

Afterall, a mission is an activity (a very long activity) financed by a member
and I think it would be authorized.

Just let the donor family know that the money is not tax-deductible until the
year their son starts his mission.

Basically you accumulate the mission pre-pay into the OT:AMFA:Prepay
account until the unit is first charged for the Equalized payment for the
missionary. Then the clerk writes a check out of the Other account to the
family, who endorses the back and gives it back with a deposit slip donating
it into the Ward Missionary: Smith, Billy account. This transaction will then
make the donation tax-deductible.

While this method works; Be advised that you do get authorization from both
your ward and stake leaders prior to implementing it. You should also
monitor the donations to ensure that you don't act too like a bank with the
funds (allowing withdrawls would be a no-no) and that you are not assisting
with asset hiding or money laundering.

Also be aware you will need to explain the account on your financial audits.

I wouldn't recommend this method for any long-term mission savings, but one
or two years prior shouldn't be too much more effort.


- Atticus

rpyne
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Postby rpyne » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:17 am

I presented this same problem in another thread. We have had several missionaries over the years who have paid for nearly all of their mission before leaving. we used to be able to track it in MLS, but now can't. Tracking it outside of MLS means that it takes extra accounting steps which increases the likelihood of errors along with all clerks and bishopric members needing to know how that accounting is done and where it is kept. For those who only occasionally process donation batches, it makes it very likely they will miss crediting the future missionary for funds donated.

rpyne
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Postby rpyne » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:28 am

atticusewig wrote:If a family prepays a missionary's expenses, I would recommend using

Other:Authorized Member Financed Activity-Mission Pre-Pay-Elder Billy Smith.

Afterall, a mission is an activity (a very long activity) financed by a member
and I think it would be authorized.

Just let the donor family know that the money is not tax-deductible until the
year their son starts his mission.

Basically you accumulate the mission pre-pay into the OT:AMFA:Prepay
account until the unit is first charged for the Equalized payment for the
missionary. Then the clerk writes a check out of the Other account to the
family, who endorses the back and gives it back with a deposit slip donating
it into the Ward Missionary: Smith, Billy account. This transaction will then
make the donation tax-deductible.

While this method works; Be advised that you do get authorization from both
your ward and stake leaders prior to implementing it. You should also
monitor the donations to ensure that you don't act too like a bank with the
funds (allowing withdrawls would be a no-no) and that you are not assisting
with asset hiding or money laundering.

Also be aware you will need to explain the account on your financial audits.

I wouldn't recommend this method for any long-term mission savings, but one
or two years prior shouldn't be too much more effort.


- Atticus


While this might work for future donations, it doesn't solve the problem for existing missionary funds.

Before doing this I would want to get a clarification from a tax accountant and tax attorney to make sure it is legal and from the Church Auditing department to make sure it doesn't violate any accounting standards.

How do you handle it when there are many family and friends donating to the future missionary? You would have to track each donor separately and write each of them a check to endorse back. What would you do if one of the donors died before the missionary leaves (we have had this happen)? Add to that that in some cases the donations are made in advance because they want/need the tax deduction in a particular year.

How would you handle "long-term mission savings"?

atticusewig
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Postby atticusewig » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:31 am

rpyne wrote:While this might work for future donations, it doesn't solve the problem for existing missionary funds.


If you mean funds already donated to prepay a mission into the
WM fund, you could write a check from WM to the ward and have
the ward donate it to the OT:AMFA:Prepay-Elder Smith account.
It would probably send alarm bells to the Church Auditing department
which would save you a call to CHQ - They would call you. Just
be kind and don't put them on hold for 3 or more hours before
answering.

rpyne wrote:How do you handle it when there are many family and friends donating to the future missionary? You would have to track each donor separately and write each of them a check to endorse back. What would you do if one of the donors died before the missionary leaves (we have had this happen)?


Actually only one person needs a check, and it wouldn't even have to be
an original donor. You could write the check (out of OT:AMFA:Prepay) to the
ward and skip the endorsement altogether, then just deposit the one check
under multiple donors (you just click new slip for each donor instead of
new donation if I remember correctly) to the WM:Smith account.
Keeping track of multiple donors could be done with the Income/Expense
detail report for the OT:AMFA:Prepay account.

rpyne wrote: Add to that that in some cases the donations are made in advance because they want/need the tax deduction in a particular year.

How would you handle "long-term mission savings"?


If they absolutely needed the deduction for the year donated I suppose
you could have them donate to WM, write a check from WM to the ward
and deposit into OT:AMFA:Prepay. If you did this, you would have to
make sure that when the check from OT is deposited to WM when the
missionary enters the field, the donor is the ward. Otherwise there
would be double tax deductations which I'm sure is illegal.

I'm pretty sure that writing checks from WM and depositing them
into OT is borderline improper, so I would recommend trying to convince
the donors to delay tax deducations until the missionary is in the field.

But you are right in consulting the Tax and Auditing department of the church.
They will probably just tell you to keep a seperate set of books in a spreadsheet for donations to WM.

For long term missionary savings I would recommend a bank or a large
hollow ceramic pig.

- Atticus

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mfmohlma
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Postby mfmohlma » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:43 am

I think we're treading on thin water here. As referenced in another thread, donations to the Ward Mission Fund are solely the property of the church and can be used however the Church sees fit. Any "tracking" mechanism is solely for reference (and confusion, apparently). If anyone would like to "pre-donate" to the fund for "their" mission, they are free to track those donations themselves. I think a quick explanation to the Bishop would be all that would be needed when the aforementioned missionary leaves to serve.

In short, all I'm concerned about as a clerk is that our Ward Mission fund is in the black. However we can accomplish that is up to the Bishop, whether it be "tracking" subaccounts for missionaries that are serving or otherwise.

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:20 pm

GregAnderson wrote:But I think you overlook the problem. In our ward, a family donated $100 each month for over a year before their son started his mission. They wanted to lessen the financial burden when he started. With CUBS, I have no way to track this within MLS


I think something I'd try is to call Local Unit Support and explain the situation and ask if they can create a subcategory.

No guarantee of success, but it's worth a shot. That account may not be the one used when the missionary actually starts, but it would be a simple matter to transfer the balance when that time comes.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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gregwanderson
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Postby gregwanderson » Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:31 pm

Or maybe someone who's writing the MLS software could kindly allow us to create subcategories in Ward Mission again. I know that the change in CUBS is supposed to make things easier for us but this change can seem a bit insulting. We didn't abuse subcategory creation before. I promise we won't abuse it in the future.

Sometimes MLS seems more like a taskmaster that controls ME rather than a tool. This thread just shows how far out-of-bounds we're thinking about going in order to accomplish a simple workaround.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I would transfer funds from any sub-category I created to the one created automatically when a missionary begins service and THEN uncheck "active" on the one I created. I'm not suggesting that the CUBS creation of sub-categories is unwelcome. I just think that it wasn't necessary to eliminate sub-category creation. We have already shown good reasons why sub-category creation is still very useful within the Ward Missionary fund.

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cottrells
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Postby cottrells » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:20 am

My recommendation to families/individuals is to put the contributions towards a future serving missionary in a savings account, earn interest and then when the individual starts serving pay in the expected amount each month into the ward missionary fund or if needs be as a lump sum.

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Postby rwoodmansee » Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:52 am

cottrells wrote:My recommendation to families/individuals is to put the contributions towards a future serving missionary in a savings account....


There are also Charitable Gift accounts. These types of accounts allow you to make non-revokable charitable donations and claim the tax benefits in the year that the deposits are made and then make a 'gift' recommendation in future years.

When the economy took a nose-dive and I lost my job, my son was considering forgoing his mission, worried that his mission would be a financial burden. His concern about finances was lifted when he learned that the charitable gift fund had enough funds to support his whole mission and that the funds HAD to be used for a charitable cause (it couldn't be withdrawn for college expenses or a car).


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