Some Gifts are Not Worth Accepting
It’s a miracle! Someone wants to leave your congregation a sizable piece of land. You begin fantasizing that you will be selling it to a developer for a tidy sum of money and - hallelujah - your financial woes will be over. Jesus must have really been working overtime to lead that person to give the church such a blessing!
Then reality sinks in. The land is - literally - toxic. It’s an environmental pit. And now you are stuck with this “blessing” that is going to cost you dearly if you are ever lucky enough to sell it.
Such is the downside of accepting any gift that is handed to you. In a great little piece this week, “Worst (and Best) Donations Ever” UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) describes some of the bizarre items they have received to “help” people who have been victims of disasters. Think used tea bags. Really. I kid you not. (Seems to me that there needs to be a little education from the pulpit about what “poor” people really “need.”)
But, back to your church: Just because someone wants to give you something that they no longer want or need, does not mean that you should jump for joy. Otherwise you might find yourself the proud owner of a 1986 RV, a ‘67 truck that sort of works, or a sailboat that even Jack Sparrow might reject. While it may not help the good people at UMCOR with those used tea bags, it is important that your church establishes a “Gift Acceptance” policy. Here are two samples: one is simple and one is more detailed.
Your trustees have been entrusted to make good, wise, and prayerful decisions on behalf of the church, including what constitutes something the church should or should not agree to take. The “Gift Acceptance” policy helps them to do just that. Otherwise, you may find yourselves the proud owner of some fabulous swampland in the middle of only God knows where.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.