Love Offering – The Ultimate Guide for Churches

Can your church accept love offering? What does the IRS say and how can you get started? Read this ultimate guide on love offering and get started with supporting your pastoral staff.

7 minutes read
Love Offering – The Ultimate Guide for Churches

love offering

Your church leadership including pastors and other staff members share their gifts with the congregation weekly. Your congregants, in turn, may want to share their gratitude to them through financial or other gifts. Love offerings are nothing but this – a way for the members of your congregation to express their love and appreciation for the church leadership. But a confusion remains among churches as to whether they should accept these offerings and what is the right way.

This article shares what the bible says about love offerings, how the IRS sees these gifts, and ideas to collect and share love offerings with your pastor.

  1. What is a love offering?
  2. How much should a love offering be?
  3. What does the IRS say about love offerings?
  4. 5 best ways to collect love offerings for your pastor
  5. 4 important considerations while accepting or paying the love offering

What is a Love Offering?

A love offering is a designated gift from a member of your congregation and is usually meant for a pastor. Many churches allow their congregants to show their gratitude and appreciation to the church pastors with these offerings or financial gifts during the church service.

Traditionally, it was done by passing the plate during the religious service. However, these days a lot of churches enable online donation forms to be able to accept these offerings online. Here’s an example of the same.

love offering meaning

Get Started With Donorbox

Jesus felt strongly about money in the church. He railed against the temple money changers as a young boy and continued preaching about money’s role in the church throughout his life. Therefore, in Bible, there are plentiful mentions of love offerings for the church.

How Much Should a Love Offering Be?

Let us start with a simple example from the Bible –

Jesus spoke about the rich who’d visit the temple with bags of gold, hoping to gain God’s forgiveness and honor. Eventually, a poor widow arrived with two copper coins. Jesus called his disciples over to watch this action and said it meant more to God because it was all she had to give, and she gave it willingly.

What do we take away from this?

Your church’s love offerings would go to pastors, musicians, or others participating in the services. Hence, people should give whatever amount they feel fits how the sermons or music made them feel at the church. Ask your parishioners what the service meant to them and how much they’d pay for the same feeling outside of the church.

What Does the IRS Say about Love Offerings?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) doesn’t give many specifics regarding love offerings. But there are rules restricting financial gifts to employees.

1. De minimis gifts

De minimis gifts are seen by the IRS as so small that accounting for them is unreasonable or impractical. A few examples of this include –

  • Occasional snacks, doughnuts, and coffee.
  • Occasional event tickets.
  • Holiday gifts.
  • Meal money or transportation for overtime work.
  • Flowers, fruits, books, etc.
  • Personal use of a work-provided cell phone.

In most cases, cash and gift cards do not qualify for this exemption. Hence, you may need to be careful about significant financial gifts being offered to your pastors or other staff.

2. Rewards for employees

The IRS does allow organizations to give employee awards for longevity with the organization or for meeting other job requirements. However, when this includes forwarding financial gifts to them from congregants, there will be restrictions.

Restrictions that come with employee rewards include –

  • Cannot be disguised as wages.
  • Must be awarded with a meaningful presentation.
  • It cannot be cash, vacation, meals, lodging, theater or sports tickets, or securities.
  • There are also dollar limitations on any awards.

3. Goodwin v. United States

In 1995, The 8th Circuit Court ruled in Goodwin v. United States. Their ruling provided more details on what is allowed for love offerings.

Reverend Goodwin received significant gifts from church members for years. The court found that these gifts were taxable income since the church collected and paid these gifts to the pastor.

This ruling and others determine that love offerings, given on Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, or other occasions, are not tax deductible for donors and must be reported on the pastor’s W2s or 1099 if over $600 annually.

However, if love offerings are being made directly to the pastor, the gift is not taxable income for the recipient. This applies to all individual gifts less than $15,000 a year per donor. If it exceeds, the donor must file a gift tax return.

4. The takeaway

Keeping these rules and restrictions in mind, churches must be mindful about accepting financial or other gifts for their pastors or employees.

Please educate all your staff about these rules and tax information. Let congregants know what these gifts mean for them in terms of tax deductibility. Nobody should remain in the dark about the future of these gifts.

5 Best Ways to Collect Love Offerings for Your Pastor

If you’re keen on accepting love offerings and want to reward your pastor and staff, there are several ways to make it simple for your congregation.

1. Collect at Sunday service

Some churches include love offerings as a regular practice. They collect love offerings by passing the offering plate or basket throughout the congregation.

Your church can make this a surprise by giving the pastor a day off and collecting funds during services that day. Take time to share how your minister has made a difference in the church, and ask individuals of all ages to share their testimonials. Be ready for a few tears of joy!

These days, churches are making it convenient for congregants to make financial gifts. You can do it too by including text-to-give. Donorbox lets you easily enable this feature and get unique campaign IDs for your campaigns on Donorbox. There are 2 plans for you to choose from and the texting numbers are easy to remember for all.

Your congregation would text the ID to the number and receive a mobile-friendly link to a donation page to complete the payment. That’s all! It hardly takes a few minutes. Repeating these gifts will be even easier – only by texting a couple of keywords!

asking for a love offering - text-to-give

Try Donorbox Text-to-Give

2. Create an online campaign

60% of church members say they’re willing to give digitally. Giving church members the option to provide love offerings online is an easy and convenient way to collect these funds.

Churches can create a campaign page online, share the reason for this gift, and email church members to ask for their patronage. The same can be done at the church service as well. You can talk about this online page and share a QR code with all. Ask them to go to this page and make their offerings there.

Do mention the tax deductibility and other important information on the page itself. Encourage all to read the content before making their love offerings.

The following page is from Ambassadors Global Church for accepting love offerings. This is created on Donorbox. You can create unlimited campaigns on Donorbox for free and you also get QR codes for each of these pages for free.

asking for a love offering

3. Pastor appreciation day projects

Pastor appreciation day is celebrated on the second Sunday of October. Churches hold campaigns and events on the pastor appreciation day and see it as an opportunity to share how sermons affect individuals and make a difference in their lives.

You can get creative in sharing your appreciation and love during this celebration. One way to do this is with children’s projects. Ask each children’s Sunday school to create an art piece or performance to share during the service. These unique gifts are heartfelt and can mean more than any financial gift.

However, if you’re open to receiving financial gifts as well, keep your audience including parents and other congregants aware of the options available.

Here is what Power of Worship does – they encourage people to share their feelings about the pastor through a Google form and lets them give financial gifts via the below donation page.

love offering

Create a Fundraising Campaign

4. Peer-to-peer campaigns

Some individuals may want to give love offerings to the pastor on their own. If they wish to collect significant amounts, you can help them start their own peer-to-peer campaign.

Donorbox Peer-to-Peer makes this a breeze for all organizations including churches. You can easily set up a peer-to-peer campaign and invite members of your congregation. They’ll sign up and set up their own fundraising pages. That’s all – now they can raise money from their networks for your pastor!

The below step-by-step guide will help you get started with Donorbox Peer-to-Peer right away!

Remind them of the $15,000 annual gift limit, and ensure they share that these gifts are not tax deductible. You must explain the financial restrictions and oversee these campaigns to ensure they remain legal and ethical.

5. Let people volunteer to help pastors

In the end, financial love offerings for your pastor may be seen as taxable income. So, instead of collecting funds, you may want to see where else your congregation can help.

Most pastors live in homes provided by the church. These homes are often run down and could use tender love and care. Your church can plan a day of cleaning and home repair as a surprise for your pastor and his family.

If planning a day like this may be too difficult, you may create a job list and sign up volunteers to stop in on their days off to offer their expertise and appreciation.

4 Important Considerations While Accepting or Paying the Love Offering

If your church chooses to hold a love offering, be sure to consider the following things.

1. Can your church afford it?

Is your church operating at a profit or loss? This is an important question to ask yourselves before collecting funds like this.

Your parishioners want the church to remain financially healthy. They are there to hear the word of God and feel his love. Your church must collect offerings and tithing to keep the church going. If you have difficulty collecting funds for these needs, a love offering may not be viable.

Before collecting a love offering, you must look at your organization’s financial reports and budgets to determine how much can be paid.

2. Get board approval

After determining that a love offering is the right financial choice, it is time to get your board’s approval. Your Board of Directors is the leadership of your church and, as such, should be the final decision-makers.

In many cases, board members will be willing and excited to collect and give love offerings to a well-loved pastor. But you must ensure they understand the rules and regulations of these gifts.

Once they approve of the love offering, get them involved. Ask them to brainstorm creative ideas and contact church members and businesses to make their ideas a reality.

3. Keep these funds separate

As you collect these funds, you must keep them separate from other tithes and offerings. Your budgets and financial reports must show which funds are tax-exempt and which are not.

Also, when asking people to give a love offering, ensure they understand that their gifts are not tax deductible. There should be no confusion among your parishioners and staff members.

4. Report it to the payroll

Love offerings come from the heart, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be financial hoops to jump through. When giving your pastor a love offering, you must contact the pastor’s payroll company to learn any rules and restrictions.

Final Thoughts

Your church can collect and give a love offering to pastoral staff and others. Stay creative and true to Jesus’s teachings when asking for donations. Be entirely transparent about how the gift is used and the tax rules regarding their gifts.

Churches can collect these offerings in several ways, but adding a digital fundraising option is simple and convenient for all. Check out Donorbox – an all-in-one online fundraising solution offering robust and affordable features. You can sign up for free and get started in about 15 minutes!

Explore Donorbox Premium for a customized success package for your church – receive expert help and high-powered tools regarding fundraising and donor management!

Want to find insightful guides, tips, and resources on church fundraising? Go to our nonprofit blog and subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll send the best Donorbox resources every month to your inbox.

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.

Take your donor experience to the next level!
Join the 50,000+ nonprofits already raising funds online.
Join Our Newsletter
Get a monthly curated round-up of our best posts and feature updates. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)
Join Our Newsletter
Get a monthly curated round-up of our best posts and feature updates. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)
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!