Ward Missionary Donations

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reubendunn1
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Ward Missionary Donations

Postby reubendunn1 » Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:23 am

A few months ago we got an email via MLS directing that members no longer make missionary donations to a specific missionary, that the donations go into the general ward missionary fund.

This letter got deleted and I am wondering if there's any online copy that I, ward financial clerk, and print for the bishop.

Any ideas?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:54 am

reubendunn1 wrote:A few months ago we got an email via MLS directing that members no longer make missionary donations to a specific missionary, that the donations go into the general ward missionary fund.

This letter got deleted and I am wondering if there's any online copy that I, ward financial clerk, and print for the bishop.


There has been no recent change of policy in this area that I've heard of. Although it's true that members do not make missionary donations to missionaries, that's been true for many years.

However, it is still the case that CUBS creates subcategories of the Ward Missionary category for each missionary shortly after they receive their call. These categories are used by the Church to automatically categorize monthly expenses, and are to be used for donations made on their behalf. If it were no longer desirable for wards to track donations and payments by missionary, there would be no reason for those subcategories. Since they still exist, I have to think that you are referring to some MLS message that was sent to your unit for a specific situation, not a general change in policy.
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Postby allenjpl » Sat Nov 26, 2011 11:09 am

reubendunn1 wrote:A few months ago we got an email via MLS directing that members no longer make missionary donations to a specific missionary, that the donations go into the general ward missionary fund.

This letter got deleted and I am wondering if there's any online copy that I, ward financial clerk, and print for the bishop.

Any ideas?


I don't remember that MLS message, and it doesn't make all that much sense anyway.

Members donate to "Ward Missionary." They have no control over who the Church supports with those funds (similarly, members who donate to Fast Offerings can't require that their donation be used for a particular person or family). That said, CHQ sets up sub-accounts in Ward Missionary to aid the ward in tracking the support of each of their missionaries. So if a family of a missionary has committed to donating $400 a month for the duration of their missionary's service, the sub-account is useful for tracking that. If you don't use it to track the donations, things get more complicated in tracking the commitments. e.g. You have 12 different people who, over the course of 3 months, have contributed $1200. and you have 3 missionaries serving. Without the subaccounts, it makes it far more difficult to determine if each of the commitments have been met, or if one family has paid ahead.

I'm a big proponent of using the tools that CHQ has provided. In this case, CHQ has provided methods and direction for tracking the donations for each of the ward's missionaries. I'd go ahead and use it.

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gregwanderson
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Postby gregwanderson » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:03 pm

In other words, we never saw a letter like the one you described because we're sure we would have remembered such a significant change in church policy. So, no, we can't direct you to an online copy of the letter. But I'm curious to explore this a little further. About how long ago (very specifically) do you recall receiving this letter? Are you serving in a unit outside of the United States? (I never know how policies vary from one country to another.)

Or perhaps there was a misunderstanding of how the change to the CUBS system took place. Starting about a year ago, we cannot create subcategories in the Ward Missionary fund ourselves (such as a category called "Elder John Smith" into which we deposit donations from the parents of John Smith). However, the category is created at Church Headquarters and automatically appears on the local MLS computer at about the time "Elder John Smith" starts his mission. Maybe the instruction that "we don't create the subcategories anymore" was misunderstood to mean that "we don't accept donations under specific missionary names anymore." But we do accept them. And $400 each month will be withdrawn from each subcategory by church headquarters, whether or not there's been a donation to offset the charge.

Do you still have one subcategory in MLS for each missionary from your ward/branch who's currently serving? Do you have any leftover subcategories for missionaries who've already finished serving?

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Postby russellhltn » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:10 pm

So far, I think everyone has talked about full-time missionaries. Perhaps the email in question was about senior missionaries?

Or perhaps the email was about not giving money directly to the missionary?

I wouldn't rule out the possibility that the message was triggered by a specific event in your unit or area and the rest of us have not received that message.
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funaddict
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Postby funaddict » Sun Nov 27, 2011 12:40 pm

I think they meant that you don't accept donations made out to that missionary. They should be made out to the church and then credited to that missionaries sub-account under Ward Missionary. They don't want you accepting donations made out to "Elder Smith" personally. Similar to the handbook instructions that ward missionary funds are not to support the missionary directly. It took me a few minutes to realize they were just telling you that the missionary support payments go to CHQ and not to the missionary personally.

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Postby dbyram » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:34 pm

It's been several years since being released as assistant Finance clerk and ward clerk so I am a little out of touch with church policy concerning accounting, donations, etc.

This past Sunday we were made aware of a young man (recent convert) that has a desire to go on a mission soon. His parents are non-members and told him that they will not support this calling financially. It was proposed that those wishing to help this young man out on his mission that donations could be made via tithing slips under 'Ward Missionary' and then write his name in on the space so that the money collected can be allocated to his account.

I'm not the smartest 'turnip that fell off the truck' but as I thought about this later in the day something just didn't seem right as I tried to rely on my former experience. Can you shed some light on this matter as I no longer have access to MLS and to LDS support? Thank you.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:44 pm

dbyram wrote:This past Sunday we were made aware of a young man (recent convert) that has a desire to go on a mission soon. His parents are non-members and told him that they will not support this calling financially. It was proposed that those wishing to help this young man out on his mission that donations could be made via tithing slips under 'Ward Missionary' and then write his name in on the space so that the money collected can be allocated to his account.

I'm not the smartest 'turnip that fell off the truck' but as I thought about this later in the day something just didn't seem right as I tried to rely on my former experience. Can you shed some light on this matter as I no longer have access to MLS and to LDS support?


I'm not sure whether your concerns are in the realm of administration or policy.

Administratively, there is one challenge. In MLS, the ward cannot set up a subaccount for this young man; his account will automatically be set up sometime after he receives his official call. Until then, any donations received that are intended to help with his missionary expenses would have to be put in the main Ward Missionary account and tracked separately; after the account is created, a clerk could go back to those earlier donations and recategorize them to be associated with his account. A bit of a hassle, but not that big of a deal.

From a policy perspective, there is no problem with this approach, as long as all donors understand the rules:

  • All donations to the Ward Missionary fund (regardless of whose expenses they are targeted to help with) become the property of the Church and may not be refunded.
  • The above applies, even if the young man never goes on his mission or comes home early.
  • The above applies, even if the donations exceed the amounts charged to the ward for his mission.
  • Regardless of the amount of the donations with this young man's name on them, the ward will still be charged the equalized amount each month he serves on his mission.
As long as those rules are followed, the donations should generally be tax-deductible to the donors, and the Church's tax-exempt status should be safe.
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dbyram
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Postby dbyram » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:07 pm

Thank you for the quick reply. Thanks for broading the scope of this situation...it definitely is both an administrative and church policy concern.

I always appreciate the help at this site!

Dennis

barneja
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Your question is really a tax question . . .

Postby barneja » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:12 pm

The whole issue of crediting the funds to Ward Missionary vs to a specific missionary is technically a legal / tax issue.

As was mentioned by many of the previous posters the Ward Missionary Fund is responsible to support the missionary. For tracking purposes we have been given sub-categories for each missionary in our ward -- however, my understanding is that the sub-category is for our convenience in tracking a particular missionary's support - but ultimately it is the ward's responsbility to make sure we have enough funds in our ward missionary account.

As to the letter you saw - I would think it relates to US tax law as it relates to a LDS missionary. After the White v Commis case anytime we make a donation to the church's missionary fund the funds do not directly support a particualar missionary - thus the whole non-refundable contributions issue.

I have talked with IRS auditors who feel that if a family writes the name of the missionary on the notes section of their donation check - or if they enter the missionary name on the donation slip then the IRS could take the position the family is directly supporting the missionary.

I don't think the potential IRS position will stand in court; however, we do need to be careful about how we are telling our members to fill out their donation slips -- and we always need to remember that our official tax statement we give the members before Jan 31 are signed by the bishop and is the support provided to the IRS if they are selected for audit.

For what it is worth . . .


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