Most churches deal with requests for benevolence assistance at one time or another and creating a policy and procedure for church benevolence assistance helps to ensure consistency in practice.
It is important to have church benevolence guidelines in place so everyone understands the steps to take when a request comes in.
A church benevolence policy should provide specific steps for the process and incorporate criteria for benevolence, approval process, and a benevolence assistance application.
Keep in mind that issues of benevolent help are of a confidential nature and applicant information should only be shared only with those who have a legitimate need to know.
Church Benevolence Policy Example:
ABC Community Church will make benevolence determinations based on the following criteria, application and approval process.
ABC Community Church will make payment directly to the vendor of benevolent request or provide the member with a gift card as determined by the approval committee.
At no time will the recipient receive cash or personal check payment directly from ABC Community Church.
Criteria for Benevolence:
- The Church member is in good standing.
- Complete benevolence application form.
- Applicant does not have the means to provide basic food or shelter.
- Has experienced disaster (fire, tornado, flood, etc.).
- Is experiencing a severe family crisis.
- Is a victim of crime.
- Member or family is experiencing a catastrophic medical issue.
Process for Benevolence:
- Elder or pastor receives request for benevolence.
- Elder asks the member to complete benevolence form and informs them of the approval process and the timeline for approval.
- Member completes benevolence request form and gives to elder or pastor.
- The benevolence review committee (two elders and pastor) reviews the request and approves or denies a request by signing the benevolence application.
- If the application is denied, the elder contacts the member and informs them of the decision.
- If the application is approved, the elder shares the application with the treasurer and acquires funds for benevolence.
- An elder purchases gift cards or instructs treasurer to pay the benevolent bills (no funds are to paid directly to the applicant). Funds should be disbursed by gift card or check written directly to the vendor.
- Elder follows up and provides the applicant with benevolent disbursement.
- Benevolent approvals and amounts of disbursed funds should be entered into the church database for future reference.
Treasurer prepares monthly benevolence reports for the church board.
- Benevolence Committee should be comprised of two elders and senior pastor.
- The committee should be available to meet Sundays or Wednesdays after church services to review benevolence applications and make recommendations.
- Church treasurer should be available on Sunday and Wednesdays after church to make benevolent disbursement and record in the church database.
Example Benevolence Assistance Application Form
This is an example policy, and every church is different, so use this as a guide to develop guidelines that are appropriate for your members and church culture.
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How does your church handle benevolence requests?