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Mission Trip Donation or not?

by Cynthia
(Brenham, TX)

Mission trip planned with a total given all those attending sum of visa,tickets,meals,hotel,etc. Each person making the trip gets donations from,friends,church members,etc. written and deposited to the church. As the date for departure nears several of those going still need funds for total cost, so they or their parents make up the buys the tickets, pays hotel bill and prepays meals for the entire group.

Question has come up.....the amounts paid by anyone actually going out of their pockets does it go on their contribution yr end receipt for tax purpose or considered that they received goods, being air ticket, room and meals? Considered the trip as a lump sum expense and anything owed would be covered by the church or any overage would be paid to the mission in Brazil they are working.

Comments for Mission Trip Donation or not?

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Mar 06, 2013
mission donations
by: Sandi

The short answer is no... also know that people giving to an individual (even thru the church) cannot claim the deduction, Parents cannot claim any amount donated to the event because their child benefits therefore they benefit...
That is why fundraisers are to a generic account and divided equally to all going.... I personally think this is in itself unfair but as a Christian we follow "Caesars" rules if they do not conflict with Gods commands....
IRS Pub 526
Contributions You Can Deduct
Generally, you can deduct contributions of money or property you make to, or for the use of, a qualified organization. A contribution is “for the use of” a qualified organization when it is held in a legally enforceable trust for the qualified organization or in a similar legal arrangement.

The contributions must be made to a qualified organization and not set aside for use by a specific person.

Contributions You Cannot Deduct
There are some contributions you cannot deduct and others you can deduct only in part.

You cannot deduct as a charitable contribution:
1.A contribution to a specific individual,
2.A contribution to a nonqualified organization,
3.The part of a contribution from which you receive or expect to receive a benefit
also in Pub 17-"Example. Your son does missionary work. You pay his expenses. You cannot claim a deduction for your son's unreimbursed expenses related to his contribution of services."

Mar 07, 2013
Thanks Sandi
by: Cynthia

Appreciate the clarity you give, not that those giving will be happy with the answer. Will make mission trips in the future more difficult to raise funds. Will read Pub 526 as you recommend. Looking for a standard method to determine what donations should appear on a year end givings report, as previously it has been a hit and miss allocation. Need to establish a clear policy/pattern to be followed.

Mar 07, 2013
Here is ours feel free to copy. We have policies for each fund, I can post if you want.
by: Sandi

(Your church) models the concept of tithe for its members by giving 10% of all unrestricted donations to the (your affiliation if applicable).
(Your church) adopts this policy in order to comply with legal standards of charitable contributions. Some examples of legal compliance are.
The contribution is unconditional and without personal benefit to the donor.
The contribution is made to or for the use of the church.
The value of personal services is never deductible as a charitable gift.
No deduction is allowed unless the church exercises full administrative control over the donated funds to ensure that they are being spent in furtherance of the church’s exempt purposes.
Integrity and Confidentiality:
(Your church) handles funds with a high standard of integrity and accountability. All donations are recorded in the church records, reported monthly to the church board, and audited annually. It is the intention of (your church) to maintain donor confidentiality unless permission is specifically granted by the donor.
1.Givers are strongly encouraged to support first and foremost the unified budget of the church with their regular tithes and other freewill offerings.
2.The Church reserves the right to refuse any donation for any reason. The church will receive designated giving only to areas which are church approved or are already part of the church approved budget. No designated gifts will be received until the church approves that fund.
3.All designated accounts will be under the control of the church council, to determine how the money is used, which will become part of the regular finance report to the church.
4.Each designated account must be general in nature(Mission trips, Evangelism, Building Improvement, New Equipment, Benevolence, etc.) and not specific in nature (rocking horse fund, curtain fund, sauna fund, etc.) Donations received designated to a specific individual will not be reflected on the donor’s record of giving.
5.Members’ suggestions for its use may be considered, but the decision will be based on best use in the context of the church’s ministries.
6.If a designated gift is received, that does not fit this policy, the check will be returned to the donor.
7.Non-cash gifts to the church will be acknowledged with a letter of appreciation that describes the donated property but does not indicate a value for the donated item. For larger non-cash gifts (over $5,000 in value) the church will comply with donor needs for appraisal and completion of Form 8382. Donors of vehicles will receive Form 1098-C within 30 days of the gift receipt as well as notification of any value received from disposal.
8.Any monies left over from a designated fund will go into the general fund.
9.See current list of Designated Fund accounts posted on bulletin.
10.See IRS publication 562 you cannot deduct Contributions From Which You Benefit.

Mar 09, 2013
Please post....the information will help greatly"
by: Cynthia

Thanks again!

Mar 10, 2013
by: Anonymous

The church, in exercise of its religious purposes and mission, has established a missions fund to provide resources for the church, church members, or other worthy persons or organizations spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fund can also provide resources to church members or other worthy individuals for short-term mission trips or support of long-term missions. The Church has made commitments from the general fund and will use designated giving to help meet these commitments before giving to other missions.
The church welcomes contributions to the fund.
The administration of the fund, including all disbursements, is subject to the control and discretion of the church council. The church council may consider recommendations from anyone, but in no event is the church council bound in any way to honor the recommendations.
Donors will not be permitted to recover a contribution on the grounds that the church council failed to honor the donor’s recommendation.
The church recognizes that spreading the gospel is the primary purpose of the church and has established this fund as an ongoing fund.
Should at any time in the future the church vote to close this fund, all money in the fund at that time will go in the general budget of the church.

Current Missions:
•Church monthly commitment of AFLC Evangelism $100.00
•Church monthly commitment of AFLC Mission Support-Jonnie Sliver $25.00 up to $________.
•1st Sunday of the month collections to AFLC mission groups up to $________per month or AFLBS scholarship (see policy).
Mission Other Organizations:
•Church monthly commitment of Josiah Venture $75.00 up to $__________.
•Heritage House up to $__________ per month or $________one time gift per year.
•Saint Vincent De Paul up to $__________per month or $________one time gift per year.
•Others the council approves up to $__________ per month or $________one time gift per year.

To be reviewed annually or as needed

Mar 10, 2013
by: Sandi

Hope they help :-)

I also have Treasurer and bookkeeping practices & travel worksheet if you'd like although I am not sure the worksheet would copy well and Vicki might be tired of my posts :-)


Mar 10, 2013
Bless You......
by: Cynthia

Awesome guidelines .......thanks sooooo much!!!!!

Mar 10, 2013
God Bless you,Sandi
by: Vickey

I never get tired of your posts:-)
I have been meaning for days to write you and thank you for your wonderful insightful answers.
Please feel free to post ANYTIME!

For everyone else, I have posted Sandi's policies on this page: Creating an Accounting Manual

Mar 11, 2013
by: Sandi


Thank you also, without this site (and the site also) I would be lost!

I started doing the church books just a little over a year ago as a volunteer.

There are so many places with answers but it was hard to find one that backed those answers up with IRS pubs. Thank you! Thank you!

God has given us all the gift of you Vicki!

I do tend to forget to type my name in when replying to post's :-/

AND: Cynthia,
I'm glad I could help.
If you don't have IRS pub 1828 I highly recommend it, I ordered one for our church and also emailed the pdf to each council members. One of the item it addresses is "Churches that MEET THE REQUIREMENTS of IRC section 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS."
Our policies are still developing it is a slow process as many just want to continue "the way things are" and do not think the church has to follow the IRS rules...the church does have to follow the same as 501(c)(3)except the registration portion, so I ask for prayers for our church as we continue to expand our knowledge in all areas...

May God continue to Bless you in all you do!

Prayers & Hugs

Jan 31, 2014
Mission Trip Contributions
by: James

As anyone came across the issue where the Mission Trip Ministry or Committee sent letters telling the donors to make the check out to the Church, but mail the check to the participant and the participant in the trip will turn in the contribution to the church. This to me would mean the church does not have full control because it is being mailed to the participant first.


Jan 31, 2014
by: Sandi

Make sure you have a policy in place :-)
and...actually if the people are giving to the church, (checks written to the church), it shouldn't matter who turns them in... this allows people to collect donations from non attending persons.... however if the donation is coming from the church attender, it is best to give to the fund, for ease of tracking and giving end of year donor statements...

hope this helps

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