Year-End Giving Strategies (Part 1)

Jonathan JenkinsBy Jonathan Jenkins7 Minutes

Jonathan Jenkins: Can you define year-end giving for our readers?

Handre de Jongh: Absolutely! So, year-end giving from a worldly perspective is the last opportunity you have during a calendar year to maximize your charitable giving for tax deductions. For Christians, obviously God reigns on the throne of our hearts. As an acknowledgement of his goodness, we worship him and give to His causes with gratitude as the Holy Spirit prompts us. Year-end giving gives us that opportunity.

Now, I want to state that year-end giving is not necessarily a given throughout the whole world. It is very much unique to the United States. I’m a native from South Africa, and I’ve lived a little bit in London. We [Crown Financial] also have offices in about a hundred countries, so I’ve pretty much seen what year-end giving looks like in the US versus the rest of the world.

Year-end giving is actually a blessing that was constituted within the tax laws at the founding of this nation. There is a reason why these tax deductions were built into the US tax system. The Tax code at the founding of this nation was designed to make the United States the most generous nation in the history of mankind. It was designed to bless the world and the needy through promoting giving to God’s purposes. That legacy of giving has now morphed into all kinds of social giving and also social causes, which was started by putting benefits for giving in the tax code. These tax deductions are not available in most countries out there. They were built in specifically to help to fund the spreading of the gospel, to solve social issues around the globe, to send missionaries, et cetera.

JJ: With the changes that we’ve had in the tax code over the last couple of years, is there still a big benefit from year-end giving for the average, everyday person, or should we focus on giving during the holidays regardless of the benefits to us?

Handre: Yeah. There are two answers to that question. The first one is that for the average person that’s not going to itemize their giving, it may not have a huge effect. If I’m not mistaken, you have to give over 2% of your yearly gross income to be able to itemize your giving. The truth of the matter is if you give above a certain amount, you can itemize, and there is a huge benefit for people in that. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people that still fall into that category, which creates great giving opportunities for a lot of people. There’s a certain amount built into the tax code that whether you give or not, that amount will be a tax benefit for you.

As for the second part of your question, year-end giving is a little bit different than your normal giving. I tend to say that normal giving is that which we determine in our hearts according to 2 Corinthians 9:7. It states, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” So, if you have that in mind, you will probably give on a monthly basis. It is good to give every month, to decide in your heart where you are being led by God’s spirit, and to be obedient to that. That is part of why we give to the local church, and we might even have an offering that we give beyond that for organizations whose causes we really believe in. We know where the money’s going, so we give towards those organizations to do the work that’s on our heart on our behalf. So that’s your tithing and your offering.

For year-end giving, you’re still going to continue doing what you normally do, but year-end giving means going beyond it. Part of the reason to give extra is that many people sort of get a bonus at the end of the year, or there are some extra incentives coming in at the end of the year. Sometimes if they’ve got investments, there might be some dividend payouts. So, all of a sudden, there’s a little bit more in your bucket that you can give. With the happiness of the holiday season, people often give because they also want to help other people. It makes you feel good because you make a difference. People actually enjoy being connected to something positive, and then they add this tax deduction benefit for some to sweeten the deal.

Year-end giving is this extra giving beyond what you normally give, and it could for many people be sacrificial if they don’t get that tax benefit. It’s sacrificial giving that really blesses the heart of the Lord, as we see in the story of the widow and the two mites. This is where Jesus said she has even more because she gave willingly and she gave everything. He pointed to her, not to all of those that just gave all the money that they had or their best gifts into the bucket. He was pointing to her. So when we give at the end of the year and give to causes that we normally don’t give to, it is a sacrificial giving that comes from a place of joy.