Planned Giving – Don’t Wait Till You Die!

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Do you have a plan for your missions giving?  No, not “planned giving” or “legacy giving,” both pseudonyms for estate planning, but a real plan for how you give money to missions in the here and now.  Have you ever taken the time considered your priorities and “plot” out your personal missions budget?  There are thousands of  missionaries, organizations, projects, and causes making appeals.  Without prior planning, one tends to spend money on the strongest appeal, the most compelling letter, the slickest website, the most persuasive speaker, or in other words….the missionary agency that spent the most on its marketing campaign.  We, also, give to projects that pull at our heart strings…like starving children. Sending money to help upgrade a mission agency’s email server or paying for a missionary to get legal advice from a national lawyer about how to set up an NGO (non-government organization) in a new country just doesn’t make us reach for our wallets. So sit down and take some time to evaluate and plan your missions giving.

You say, “That is all fine and good but where do I start? Do you have a model of what my mission’s giving should look like?” We are so glad you asked…. … Read more

DonorElf Web App Helps You Track Donors

donor-elfHow much time do you spend monitoring  donations or better yet trying to figure out what is coming in and how much you more you need to raise?  If you are not a numbers person, then these kinds of tasks eat away at your energy. They drain you of your creativity and zeal. Face it, most missionaries would rather be out with people than sitting at a desk tracking numbers. Think about what would happen if you had most of that time back to… to new donors, cultivate relationships, or do other ministry.

DonorElf can help take the frustration out of knowing exactly how much monthly support you have at any given time. DonorElf keeps track of your donations and your donors.  DonorElf is not a complicated computer program for geeks – it is a website application for real people.  If you can use Facebook or Gmail, DonorElf is for you.  The application can even download donation information from your missions agency.  For $12 per month, its features include donations, pledges, progress toward goals, mailing list /contact management, reports, lost donor tracking, and more.  A small price to pay for a chunk of your time and a bit of your sanity back!

Check it out at

Support Raising Database Tool

Are you looking for a computer program to help you as you raise missionary support?  TntMPD is a free computer program designed by missionaries to help missionaries manage their list of financial partners.  It tracks the key information and giving history of your ministry partners and reminds you to contact them.  It works with Microsoft Outlook and other applications to send email.  It is available in Mac and Windows platforms.   Visit the TntWare website to learn more and download.

Currency Conversion


Universal Currency Converter under license from Terms of Use

Expense Reports iPhone BlackBerry Android WAP

Social Security Totalization

As a American missionary serving in another country, you should only pay social security in the US.  Paying into two countries social security systems results in double payment and may result in ineligibility for benefits.  The US has social security totalization agreements with the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The treaties indicate that a worker should pay into the system where they work, which is referred to as the “territorial rule.”  However there is an exception that applies to most American missionaries called the “foreign detached worker exception.”  Under this exception employers are allowed to request certificates of coverage from the US Social Security Administration for employees they send overseas.  These certificates permit the worker to not be forced into the social security system of their host country.  The requirements are that the assignment originate in the US, that the worker be assigned to the the foreign branch of the same company, and that the assignment last no longer than five years.  After five years, the worker must return to the US for at least six months.  France and Germany require the workers to return for 366 days.  Short trips back to the host country for meetings and vacation during this time away are permitted.

Missionaries should carefully plan their assignments and furloughs to fulfill these requirements.  Mission boards should apply for the certificates for their personnel.  Careful adherence to to these agreements will save the mission board money and ensure that the missionary is eligible for retirement benefits.

More Information:  Social Security Administration Totalization Overview

Foreign Earned Income Credit

Are you an American missionary living and working overseas?  If so, you may be able eligible for the foreign earned income credit on your federal income tax.  You may qualify to exclude up to $91,400 of your foreign earnings.  You will need to satisfy either the bona fide resident test (a full tax year abroad) or the physical presence test (330 days abroad within 12 months) to qualify.  See the flow chart below to learn more.

from IRS publication 54

Learn about Financial Management

Do you need a quick guide to non-profit financial management?  If you are a ministry leader without a financial background and are looking for help to establish a bookkeeping system and financial policies, take a look at this article from CIVICUS.  CIVICUS has prepared several handy articles called toolkits and this one is titled Financial Control and Accountability. It is also available in Spanish and French. It gives a good overview of the importance of a bookkeeping system, how to create financial policies, and the role of boards, staff, and auditors.  See this page for more toolkits.

Other CIVICUS Toolkits:

PayPal Limits

Does PayPal limit the amount of money an individual can transfer?  Yes, transactions are limited to USD $10,000.  In addition, monthly withdrawals are limited to $500.  This can be removed by authenticating your identity. 

  1. Log in to your PayPal account.
  2. Click the View Limits link next to your balance information.
  3. Click the Lift This Limit link.
  4. Complete the steps on the To Do list to lift your Withdrawal Limit.