How to Start and Maintain a Church Benevolence Program – A Complete Guide with FAQs

Your church needs a benevolence program to be able to assist and support those in need. But at the same time, you should have a policy in place to effectively accept requests, evaluate them, raise funds for your program, and implement other crucial steps. This guide will help you get started, along with examples, tips, and proven tools. Keep reading!

7 minutes read
How to Start and Maintain a Church Benevolence Program – A Complete Guide with FAQs

Church benevolence programs are powerful vehicles for extending compassion, support, and practical resources to individuals and families facing financial hardships and other challenges.

In this article, we’ll discuss the initial aspects of starting a benevolence program, steps to ensure its long-term success, ways to raise funds online, and answer frequently asked questions.

What is a Church Benevolence Program?

Church benevolence programs help provide assistance, support, and resources to individuals or families facing financial hardship or other challenges in the community. It also helps take your supporters’ desire to act in kindness to another level by offering different ways to support those in need.

Donorbox can help your church create a fundraising campaign for your church’s benevolence fund, share it with your community, and collect details on supporters to help you build relationships for the long term. Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith shows how easy it is to add a benevolence fund to your church’s fundraising activities with Donorbox. They have added a designation option on their church donation form to help people direct their donations to the church benevolence fund.

Raise Money for Your Benevolence Fund with Donorbox

Church Benevolence Policy – 5 Essentials to Include

Your church’s benevolence policy will vary based on the needs and resources of your congregation. Transparency and fairness are vital to the acceptance of this policy, so ensure your benevolence committee is upfront about the purpose, eligibility, and evaluation of those who receive funds.

When preparing your Benevolence Policy, you must include the five following sections:

1. Purpose

Your church has a commitment to share God’s love with those in your community. A benevolence fund can tangibly share His love with those who need it most.

When developing your benevolence policy, you must include your church’s purpose and commitment to supporting those in need. You’ll also want to detail the scope of assistance provided (e.g. emergency shelter, medical expenses, food, utility bills, etc.).

2. Eligibility

Who is eligible to receive assistance? Many churches develop benevolence funds for church members, specific locations, and other levels of need. It’s crucial to explain these needs and how you choose those who benefit from this fund.

The following needs are a good place to begin:

  • An accident that caused financial hardship
  • Unavoidable unemployment
  • Individuals with special needs, social, or emotional difficulties
  • Medical treatments

You may also want to include uses that don’t qualify to remain transparent. Some of these can include:

  • Discretionary expenses
  • Unrequired medical expenses
  • Business needs
  • Insured losses

All assistance and reporting must be charitable and comply with the Income Tax Act and Regulations. Churches can also provide non-financial moral support to those who don’t meet the eligibility criteria.

3. Privacy concerns

It is essential to consider privacy concerns when starting a benevolence fund since your church will need financial details and documentation from individuals applying for assistance.

Emphasize the importance of confidentiality in your applications and establish procedures to limit access to personal information and store it securely.

4. Application process

Share the steps someone must follow to apply for assistance. Include an application form and list of required supporting documents, including:

  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of income
  • Bills and expenses
  • Documentation of special circumstances
  • Employment verification
  • References or recommendations

Don’t forget to share details with applicants on all necessary meetings and interviews with the benevolent committee.

5. Evaluation

Share details on the process of evaluation by your benevolent committee. Include information on the committee, how and when they’ll conduct interviews, and the importance of urgency to decision-making.

Transparency is essential for the long-term success of your benevolent fund. Clearly specify how information about the program, the application process, and eligibility criteria is circulated.

Establish a process to inform your church leadership and congregation about the program’s activities, impact, and financial updates.

9 Steps to Start and Maintain a Church Benevolence Program

The following steps will help you get started and maintain a healthy benevolence fund for your church.

1. Decide on the goal, purpose, and vision

The goal of your church’s benevolence fund will depend on your community’s specific needs and target population. Request ideas from your congregation about who they want to help and take the time to listen to their suggestions. Then, align your fund’s objectives with your church’s mission and values.

2. Develop a church benevolence committee

This team should oversee the benevolence fund, including the creation of policy guidelines, fundraising, and evaluation of the program.

Your benevolence committee should include individuals with a servant’s heart, financial knowledge, and good judgment. It’s vital to define roles and responsibilities within your committee from the start.

3. Create a policy

Use the financial knowledge of your committee members and external advisors to ensure your policy addresses all avenues of your fund. Also, utilize tips from the previous section on how to create a church benevolence policy for your church.

4. Set up a financial system

Your financial system for the benevolence fund may include a separate bank account, a process to track donations and expenses, and an evaluation system to monitor the health of your fund.

To ensure transparency and accuracy, it’s best to find external help from a bookkeeper or accountant. You can also utilize software like QuickBooks that’s easy to use and integrates with other crucial apps like Donorbox to collect donation data and help manage funds. Learn more at our detailed guide on QuickBooks for Churches.

5. Start a fundraising campaign

Your church needs to create a fundraising campaign for your benevolence fund. An online fundraising platform focused on the need of your church will make it convenient and effective.

With Donorbox MinistryMatters’ church-focused tools, you can easily and efficiently achieve raise money for your church’s benevolence fund. Our tools like conversion-optimized Recurring Donation Forms, customizable Donation Pages, Text-to-Give, Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer, QR codes, Donorbox Live™ Kiosk, and more will help boost your church giving.

When reaching out to parishioners for their support, encourage recurring gifts and share how their consistent help can strengthen the fund and your community. Creating a specific fundraising campaign for the benevolence fund and encouraging recurring giving will help your church in the long term. Look at the below example for inspiration.

Create a Customized Benevolence Fund Campaign

Alternatively, your church can also customize your donation form on Donorbox to add a donation designation option. It helps you add “Benevolence fund” as one of the options. Your church givers can select this option while making a donation. This will help segment funds at your church without the need for multiple campaigns.

6. Promote the church benevolence campaign

Your parishioners will share your excitement for this campaign if you explain the purpose and the need for such a fund in your community. There are several ways to promote this campaign, including:

  • Sermons
  • Church announcements
  • Church bulletins
  • Newsletters
  • Your church website
  • Email campaigns
  • Social media

Your church can also turn your fundraising campaign into a peer-to-peer fundraising one to let supporters raise funds from their friends and family. Donorbox Peer-to-Peer will help you set up one in only a few minutes. You can invite your supporters from the tool so they can customize their own fundraising pages and raise funds for this specific campaign.

Encourage more excitement and participation with regular updates throughout the campaign. Some ways to do this are with details on how much you’ve raised and individual stories of your impact when possible.

7. Establish an application process

Establish a straightforward application process for individuals or families seeking financial assistance. Train your benevolence committee to conduct interviews, review applications, and make informed decisions.

You’d want to create an accessible online application form that is posted on your website and helps people submit their requests.

8. Provide support and resources

Your benevolence fund should supply short-term support for those in need. The resources and help won’t necessarily be financial in nature at all times. For example, you may want to support families with shelter, food, and clothing with the help of your benevolence fund.

Also, to address the underlying causes of poverty in your community, collaborate with local agencies, counseling services, and educational resources to share guidance and promote long-term stability.

9. Evaluate and improve

When your church’s benevolence fund is established, you’ll want to regularly evaluate its effectiveness. Monitor its impact on those who receive funds, review the policies, and solicit feedback from recipients, donors, and the benevolence committee.

Maintain transparency by sharing regular updates with church leadership, donors, and your congregation.

Final Thoughts

Establishing a benevolence program helps your church embody Christ’s teachings. Through this program and the fund, your church can extend a helping hand to those within your congregation and your community.

Starting and maintaining a church benevolence program is a long-term commitment and requires structured and transparent policies and dedicated members to run it. If you keep in mind your church’s purpose in running this fund and let God’s love show through your actions, you will build a strong and compassionate community that values, supports, and empowers those surrounding you.

And as you embark on this journey, Donorbox MinistryMatters is here to help! You can easily set up an online fundraising campaign, set up a giving kiosk with Donorbox Live™ Kiosk at your church, encourage Text-to-Give donations, empower givers to give regularly with Recurring Donations, and even raise funds by selling tickets to your church events via Donorbox Events. The possibilities are endless with Donorbox – sign up now to start fundraising!

Want more church fundraising tips? Check out our Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a handpicked list of our best resources in your inbox every month.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. What are the types of church benevolence?

Your church can choose from a variety of benevolence program types, including:

1.1 Food pantry

Your church can start and maintain a food pantry that’s open to the public. Before embarking on this type of benevolence fund, ensure you have support to run, maintain, and promote it to the public.

1.2 True benevolence

A true benevolence fund will help with gasoline, bill payment, hotel stays, prescriptions, etc. You can supply gift cards or pay the hotel and grocery store directly to ensure the funds are used as requested.

1.3 Holiday gifts

Many families have a difficult time during the holidays due to financial hardship. Your church can supply gift cards, and baskets, or fundraise for in-kind donations to make the season a blessing for all.

1.4 Artist benevolence

Artists are blessed with a gift from God. Still, many need help to make a living doing what they love. Your church can honor their talents and hire them for special projects to beautify your facility.

2. Does my church need a benevolence policy?

A benevolence policy will ensure the long-term success of your fund. Your benevolence fund policy will prevent misunderstandings, create criteria for people to apply for assistance, help those in charge of overseeing the fund, and supply a consistent set of guidelines for all to follow.

3. Is the church benevolence program all about financial help?

The answer is no. Benevolence can be provided in terms of bill payments, shelter, clothing, food, emergency aid, as well as counseling help.

4. Are donations to the benevolence fund tax-deductible?

Donations made to your church’s benevolence fund are tax-deductible. However, for that, donors need to make contributions to the benevolence program and not to individuals and families. Make sure to include that on your fundraising page, at your location, or at events where you’ll be accepting donations for your benevolence fund.

Avatar photo

Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

  • linkedin
  • url

Join the fundraising movement!

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive the latest blogs, news, and more in your inbox.

Join a 30min Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!
Join a 30min Live Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!
Breng je Donatie ervaring naar een hoger niveau
Increase tithes and offerings for your Church
Donorbox MinistryMatters is trusted by impactful Christian organizations around the world