The seasons of giving prompt us to discuss generosity year-round

February 15, 2023 by Stephen Keizer

I have lived in West Michigan my entire life. I love living in Michigan.

One of the things I love the most is the change in seasons. Winter, spring, summer, and fall are all unique in their own way. Each season brings about new hopes, dreams, and adventures, especially if you enjoy the outdoors which I do.

The church also has its own seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Eastertide, Pentecost. The seasons of the Christian year offer a way to order the annual life of the church according to the life of Christ and the events of salvation history. As God created and appointed days, he created a rhythm of time and appointed seasons for worship.

Donors have a rhythm as well. Their seasons line up with both the liturgical and lunar calendar. Most of us are very familiar with the season of year-end giving. However, other times of year have become common, such as Giving Tuesday, which follows Thanksgiving as an early holiday season generosity event. Another important season for donors is tax time. This is a time when giving vehicles such as charitable trusts and donor advised funds can be created to reduce tax payers’ overall tax liabilities.

While church members are filing their taxes, we as church leaders have an opportunity to help them consider how their charitable giving can make a positive impact on the church. To assist them in thinking about their plan, we should be engaging in some helpful activities.

  • Talk about charitable giving to the church year-round. Doing so allows us to cultivate a broader and deeper relationship with our church members that helps them explore their values as well as their financial stewardship. Sharing the impact they can make on the lives of others by giving to the church is an important part of the decision making process for donors.
  • Ask questions. Providing opportunities for members to share why they give and what they care about can result in a more meaningful giving plan.
  • Provide other ways to support the church. Beyond cash or checks in the offering plate, church members can donate gifts of publicly traded securities or real estate. This may reduce their tax liability in a more effective way than giving cash.
  • Promote qualified charitable distributions from an IRA. If your church has members who are 70 1/2 years old or older, they may want to advantage of the qualified charitable distribution, or charitable rollover, from their Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Taxpayers in this age group may transfer up to $100,000 annually from their IRAs directly to charity without being subject to income tax on that transfer. Once people turn 73 and are subject to a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from their IRA, charitable rollovers may help them avoid income taxes on those distributions.
  • Reach out to a Ministry Relations Office at the Presbyterian Foundation. They focus on relationships, not just transactions, and will work with individuals, couples, or families to find the right giving vehicle to meet their charitable goals and objectives.
  • Celebrate the generosity of church members. Gratitude is important to let donors know that their gifts are appreciated and are vital to allowing the church to continue its mission and ministry.

Expanding your reach beyond the traditional stewardship season can be a way to show donors that you care about their rhythms and seasons. The need of the donor to give is just as important as the need of the church to receive.

Stephen came to the Presbyterian Foundation leads the Ministry Relations efforts for the Presbyterian Foundation. His team of Ministry Relations Officers serves pastors and their congregations throughout the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from regional offices across the country. You can reach Steve at