As a church communicator, it’s important to offer the best form of giving in order to help your church receive the largest amount in donations. You have to weigh all your options and decide what’s most important to your members.
As this year’s tax deadline approaches, you may want to be thinking about which form of giving is easiest for members to itemize deductions and make giving as easy as possible.
Many Americans choose to deduct charitable giving from their taxes, but there are a few rules and stipulations that can make it difficult to do so. Make it easier on your congregation to deduct their donations by offering an online giving platform––and show them how incredibly simple it is to make an impact on your mission while receiving the tax benefits of charitable giving.
We hope you can use this information to educate your members about the best ways to deduct church donations on taxes and, ultimately, increase the ease-of-use and engagement in your online giving tool.
The Downfall of Cash DonationsIf a member of your church throws cash or a check into the offering plate and hopes to deduct that amount on their taxes, they will need to provide some kind of proof that they made the donation. “Proof” typically means donors will need a bank statement or something that leaves behind a paper trail. While the IRS does not require donors to send in this record with their taxes, they might be asked afterward (or during an audit) to provide proof. Tithing and offering envelopes can help this issue, but it requires a lot of manual organization on your end to track and send reports of donations.
Cash donations can be difficult to keep track of and provide proof of as a church staff member, which is why offering online giving is the clear choice.
If a majority of your church is still giving with cash, be sure to educate them on the downfalls of deducting cash donations and how online donations can make their lives easier. You will need their full support and buy-in to your tool as you transition to online giving.
How Online Giving Tools Can Help Members Do Their Taxes
The main way to get the buy-in above is to make your messaging clear on why your church is encouraging online giving: Online giving tools make proof of donations simple. Many online giving platforms offer personalized reporting and automatic receipts. This makes everyone’s lives easier when it comes to deducting charitable donations on your taxes. As a church communicator, it’s important to choose an online giving platform that has these easy-to-use reporting features.
Features to Look For In An Online Giving Platform for Tax Purposes
- Look for a platform with customized reporting. Many platforms will allow you to create your own custom reports and filter by person, transaction, fund, date range and even donation type.
- Prioritize a platform that you can personalize. Look for available features like adding your logo and setting your state’s tax value.
- Ensure you choose a platform that can send donors automatic receipts. This will make it easier on your members to itemize tax deductions.
- Look for a platform that’s secure. Members won’t feel comfortable giving online if their information isn’t secure. Look for an online giving tool that’s Level 1 PCI Compliant.
Avoid Promoting the Use of Digital Wallets for Donations
If your church chooses to offer other types of payment through digital wallets like Venmo or Zelle, be sure to alert your congregation that they may not be able to deduct these donations from their taxes. Venmo was created with the purpose of being used for peer-to-peer payment (like if you owe a friend money or you need a way to split the lunch bill among friends.)
Because digital wallets like Venmo do not report to the IRS, they do not advise using their receipts as proof of donation.
Thankfully, there are plenty of online giving platforms that offer quick and comprehensive reporting. When you are searching for a new online giving service, be sure to ask about ease of use, reporting features, and security.
Help your church members get the biggest tax refund by choosing an online giving platform with easy reporting and automatic receipts. Educate your congregation about what types of donations are tax deductible and encourage them to make the switch to online giving.
If your church doesn’t yet offer online giving, check out our Giving Buyer’s Guide Kit. This kit includes an informational pdf about e360 Giving, a 10-step strategy plan for how to switch to online giving, and a customizable presentation to share with your team.