What do you think of matching gifts?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Jack K, Jun 11, 2012.

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  1. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    My church has announced that an annonymous donor is offering a matching gift. The donor will give a sizeable sum to the church's general fund provided the rest of the church matches the amount within the next month. What do you think of such practices? Under what conditions should a church play along?

    NOTE: I try to resist the type of posts that say, "My church did such-and-such. Let's all talk about how bad that was." I don't know the details of this case nor the donor's identity and his motivation/maturity. The elders considered all these things and decided to accept the gift offer and put the challenge to the congregation. My place is to assume that the elders acted with godliness and wisdom in this case. I have no interest in hearing how wrong they are from people who don't know them nor the details they were privy to.

    That said... I do think my church faced an interesting issue. Generally, what might be the concerns to consider when someone makes such an offer? What would you ask of the donor? How would you pastor the congregation through the matter? Under what conditions, if any, might you play along?
  2. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    The motivation for doing such is usually to encourage others to give. From that standpoint, it's a good technique. If it's for some sort of fundraiser then that's very admirable, as it encourages others to "outgive" each other.

    But if we're talking regular church offerings, that's different. Offering is offering, regardless of how much others do or don't give. Your amount, be it interpreted through tithe or freewill offering, is not dependent upon the gift of others; it's based upon what you prayerfully consider to give between you and God and is nobody else's business (See Matthew 6:1-2).
  3. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    I think it's wretched. One person is making his gift to the work of the Lord contingent on what others do. My response to this donor would be "Give what you give out of the gratitude in your heart, and keep your eyes off what others give. Decide what you'll give to this work, and give it." This seems to me to be the importation of something useful in the secular realm into the work of the church, and totally inappropriate. There are many ways to encourage greater giving, but this tactic is simply not something that should be acceptable in the church.
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Puritan Board Freshman

    The idea of a matching gift to promote giving towards the general offering is unbiblical and worldly.
  5. JonathanHunt

    JonathanHunt Puritan Board Senior

    I tend to agree that if it is just a matter of general freewill offering, that it really seems out of place. I agree that the donor should just give what they wish to give and let others do likewise. If there is a problem with low giving, perhaps the subject should be raised in the teaching ministry of the church.

    If there was some special aim, like a building fund or project for which people were being asked to make pledges, etc, then I wouldn't see a problem with it.

    But at the same time and alongside all of this, let's not get all bent out of shape over what another church's elders have decided. They are answerable to their Master, just as we are.
  6. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Exactly. What happens if the rest of the congregation doesn't come up with the funds to get the maximum matching value? The original donor will then withhold funds that he was "quite willing" to give. That's horrible!
  7. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I say go for it unless you can find Scripture which prohibits it. Are there such Scriptures or are we making another "rule" cuz match giving sounds very ungodly to us? Is there Scripture which says "no match giving allow"? I mean really none of us give from a pure sinless heart when we slip our checks in the offering pot when it goes around. Sure no one can see our hearts so we all look very ummmm hmmmm sweet and innocent lol about why we are giving and the matching gift thing doesn't. But really unless there's a Scripture which says "don't do it" we can't make up laws that sound holy. Actually isn't there a Scripture that says to outdo each in love etc etc and isn't giving money to God's kingdom sort of loving?
  8. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    But, Sarah, scripture doesn't always provide explicit commands for the questions we have. I think there are some relevant principles, though, and some have been mentioned above. One example from 2 Corinthians 9:

    If the donor has decided that he wishes to give $50,000 to the church, then he should do so. The purposes of his heart are between him and the Lord. The "transaction" does not involve others. This "secrecy" is also described in Matthew 6:

    To involve the others in the congregation so that the donation depends on the giving of the rest of the congregation would seem to violate this principle.
  9. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    but he has decided to give a certain amount if the church does.....that is what he has "purposed in his heart". If he said he would give a certain amount and the church did too and then he didn't give it then that would be going against the Scripture you quoted. Don't you think?
  10. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    My opinion, this creates division in the church, as people feel pressured, feel they've failed if they didn't match it, wonder if anyone else "did their part," resent the matching gift offer being made in the first place, etc.

    I don't doubt the motivations are good but I can see negative outcomes looming.
  11. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    I'm contrary enough that I would refuse to give anything until after that month was up. I love to be generous, but I will not be coerced.
  12. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    It is coercive to say "I'll give this amount if you give the same". I, as an individual, must decide for myself what I desire to give. If someone else decides to do a matching gift, when announcing such, they inappropriately enter into the relationship that I have one-on-one with my Heavenly Father. Even though a matching gift does not "force" others in the congregation to give, it is coercive nonetheless.
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    In this context, supporting your local church, this mechanism would seem to militate against it. In terms of pressure, timing, even purpose because the Lord's work among us is not really dependent on this. It's by faith, a duty and a discipline that comes from right understanding of what material resources are, who owns them, what they are for, etc.

    The one who would give conditioned on a match ought not condition his giving on such. He ought give as purposed in his own heart, and if the amount would be this notorious, wisdom would probably dictate he give in secret also.
  14. Dordts5

    Dordts5 Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree 100%. It's coercion in its simplest, yet boldest, meaning.

    I like tacos.
  15. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    I don't think a financial gift should be given with conditions attached to it. While I'm sure the person who gave the gift has the best intentions they are still saying, "I will give this gift to the Church only if..."

    I think Crossway Publishers had a similar matching gift offer recently if I remember correctly. Just to broaden the debate, what does everyone think about matching gifts if they are given outside of the local church?
  16. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Many of the thoughts expressed here are similar to what went through my mind when I first heard of this. I'm thinking that if approached with the offer of such as gift, were I an overseer in the church, I would have to, at minimum, consider three factors:

    1. The heart of the donor. Is he desiring to give to the Lord or is he approaching the gift as he would a charitable contribution to a favorite cause? It's easy for us to start thinking of giving to the church as just another charitable contribution, but it ought to be a far more worshipful activity. The donor must be handled in such a way that his gift is true worship, making it of maximum benefit to his heart and truly the Lord's money. That may mean refusing his terms.

    2. The hearts of the congregation. Coercion and pressure come upon people easily, and any encouragement the rest of the congregation receives from this gift being made known ought to be one that encourages them to give cheerfully and as an act of worship. Any talk of matching the gift must be handled in a way that promotes the right attitude in giving, and that won't be easy.

    3. The hearts of those in leadership. When you deal daily with financial pressures and a desire for more money to do more ministry, it's easy to have an offer like this come up and start to get greedy. You can quickly convince yourself it's an "open door" from God rather than a temptation from the devil. Leaders have to decide from the start that if they aren't confident they can pull off both #1 and #2 (and I think that's a high hurdle to leap), they must not accept the gift.

    In most cases, the best place to start would be to try to convince the donor to stop thinking about how others might respond. The best outcome for both the donor and the congregation, spiritually, is NOT for him to get the maximum bang for his buck by encouraging more giving from others. It is, rather, for him to give to God regardless of the perceived impact. Not blindly, of course. But also not looking to watch the splash he makes. Pastorally, I suspect that most donors offering a matching gift need to have this issue taken up with them.
  17. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    In a commercial context, no problem.
  18. LeeD

    LeeD Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed. I have seen this be effective in fundraising and have no issue with it in that context.
  19. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    I think it is fine for a Christian Ministry to do matching gifts but I still don't know how I feel about, "I have $100,000 to give to (insert good, kingdom oriented cause here) but will only give it if..." I guess it is a way to "double the giving" though and I am sure matching gifts are very beneficial to some ministries.
  20. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

  21. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    But why do we have to look at it as being coercive? Why not as a challenge? So if it was done every week I could say to myself "Hmm how much can I give this week that will maybe, along with everyone else giving, go over what the donor is giving?" "Outdoing each other in all things" like the Scripture says. I always find it amusing that whenever ppl start talking about our wallets we have really good reasons why we do what we do but when it comes to things like pray or love or joy or etc we can use the Scripture "outdo each other...". I wonder why?

    "Let's challenge each other to give lots of money, says the Pastor. "Well now that's just down right coercive", says the congregation. "And let's challenge each other to give lots of love to each other , says the Pastor, "now he's talking!", says the congregation! LOL!
  22. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    As I understand the point of matching challenges, the goal is to motivate others to give with the idea of doubling the impact of their gift, or to grant them an extra incentive to give within a certain timeframe. Both of those ideas may be problematic in a Christian context, where we trust God to multiply the seed sown, and we give as the Lord has prospered us.

    I can understand someone doing this for a special project so that it is obvious that he is not the one entirely bankrolling it - that there is support for it in in the broader community. In such a case, it would seem that the least problematic way for someone to do this would be to say that he would match all donations up to a certain amount. Rather than make the entirety of his donation depend on others being able to equal his generosity, that way everyone is encouraged to give whatever they may be able to, without the match being lost through the inability or unwillingness of others. But I think "least problematic" rather than "best" is probably a more accurate choice of words.
  23. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    I find that offensive!

    Either give with a joyful heart, or don't give at all!
  24. Krak3n

    Krak3n Puritan Board Freshman

    Not just trying to throw another wrench into all this, but I kinda need to.

    I received my bachelors in electronic media and found through my education that there are times that the matching donations on stations like NPR and others, especially donor driven stations, like Christian stations, are budgeted.

    As in, the anonymous matching grant is actually money set aside by the station to coerce people into trying to match it. The money has always been there, but this technique is useful for encouraging others to give more, and as stated above, to meet goals earlier in the pledge drives.

    I find this deceiving.
  25. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I think most people in this thread would recognize a difference between offerings to the local church and all other donations.
  26. ProtestantBankie

    ProtestantBankie Puritan Board Freshman

    I'd have no real objection.

    In the United Kingdom, taxpayers can claim back their income tax for a charity. So donating £1 to the Church the Church reclaims the original earning on which tax was paid (earning £1.25 results in paying 20% tax, or 25p.) so boosts the donation by 25%.

    I would be interested why a man feels the need to "encourage" giving. Why do the people not feel the need to give without such encouragement?
  27. Supersillymanable

    Supersillymanable Puritan Board Freshman

    In a church context, I am leaning more towards that thought that preaching is the best way to encourage giving. Jesus talked a lot about money, about giving etc, but he never once (as far as I know), held a matching gift fundraiser or anything like that. The main problem I find with it simply, is that it can be more problematic than helpful. I guess though we do need to, as some have pointed out here, leave it in the hands of the Elders to judge the situation with wisdom.
  28. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    My thoughts exactly! I would feel manipulated. And I imagine my conscience would be wrongly bound to follow this anonymous guy rather than the Bible. I hate this idea.
  29. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Right. The Holy Spirit, speaking through (preached) scripture, working in our hearts. That is the influence and encouragement.
  30. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    I also agree. I would probably seek out a private meeting with the session on the matter as well. I think it's borderline acceptable if it didn't have a timeframe. Clearly sinful with a timeframe however. The fact that there is a timeframe is pathetic in my opinion. But if a giver to the church said he would match lets say the next $30,000 in tithing dollar for dollar (no matter how long it took) - then okay... I wouldn't have any overt problem with it - even though I would still personally recommend the giving just be done on their own with no involvement of the general church body.
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