Ways to Give

How You Can Make a Tax Deductible Gift to Support the ELCA


    Cash is the most common type of charitable gift and is also the easiest to make. Checks should be made payable to “ELCA” with a note in the memo section specifying your intent to support the specific ministry or program. You can use your gift wherever the need is greatest by leaving the memo line blank. To give over the phone, please call (800) 638-3522. To give online, visit our secure online form.

    Charitable gifts of appreciated stocks, bonds or mutual funds held for more than one year can provide special tax advantages. The person making the gift (the “donor”) can claim a charitable tax deduction for the full fair market value of the securities donated to the ELCA and will never have to pay capital gains taxes on the appreciation. Securities held less than one year may also be donated but the deduction is limited to the lesser of cost basis or market value.

    1. How to transfer securities to The ELCA – you or your broker should contact the ELCA Foundation at 800-638-3522 ext. 2976 or elcafoundation@elca.org  for security transfer instructions and brokerage account information.  You should notify the ELCA Foundation when donating securities for a specific program or purpose.
    2. Deduction – For gifts of publicly traded securities, the deduction is determined by taking the average, or mean, between the high and low trading prices of the security on the date of the gift (or the nearest trading date(s)).
    3. Other securities – Closely held stock, Subchapter S corporate stock, limited liability company interests and partnerships can sometimes be used to make a charitable gift.  Any proposed gift of such assets should be reviewed with The ELCA Foundation and the donor’s tax advisors in advance.  An S corporation, limited liability company or partnership may also donate specific assets and the deduction will be divided among the shareholders or members.

    Gifts of appreciated homes, farms and other real property can receive the same tax treatment as gifts of securities – a full fair market value deduction and no tax on the capital gain.  If the debt-free property is donated to The ELCA, the gift is deductible at the property’s appraised value.  It is sometimes possible to donate a partial interest in property, such as a percentage of ownership or mineral rights.

    Any gift may be designated in memory or honor of a friend, family member or other person.

    Another way to support The ELCA is through gifts of tangible personal property.  If a gift is related to the “charitable purpose” of the ELCA, which is generally very broad for faith based institutions; the donor may be eligible for a deduction of the asset’s full fair market value.  Examples of gifts-in-kind include artwork, special library collections, furnishings, machinery, computer software or hardware.

    You may be able to multiply the value of your gift by participating in a corporate matching gift program.  Many companies match charitable gifts made by employees (or joint gifts with their spouses), retirees or board members.  Outright gifts and the deduction value of irrevocable deferred gifts may qualify for a match.  Some companies do not support faith based non-profits.  You will need to ask your employer.


Although outright gifts provide vital resources for the ELCA today, deferred gifts help insure the ministries of the church's future. Giving through estate plans or life income gifts may be particularly suitable for individuals who would like to provide significant support for the ELCA but need income from their assets during their lifetime.

    The most common form of deferred or planned gift to support the ELCA is a bequest contained in a person’s will or revocable (“living”) trust.  The following language is an example of how a bequest to benefit The ELCA may be worded:

    I give, devise and bequeath to the ELCA, a qualified 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Chicago, IL, _____ percent of my residual estate to be used for _______________ (a specific ministry, program or unrestricted use).”
    Donors may receive numerous tax and financial benefits by creating a “life income gift,” such as a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust. The donor makes an irrevocable contribution of assets to fund the trust or annuity, gets an immediate income tax deduction for part of the contribution’s value, and receives income for life or a term of between 1-20 years. When the trust or annuity term ends, the remaining assets can be directed to support ministries of the ELCA. For instructions on how to transfer cash, appreciated securities or other assets to fund a life income gift, you or your broker should contact the ELCA Foundation.

    A donor can name the ELCA as a primary or contingent beneficiary of a life insurance policy. If the donor retains any control over the policy, no income tax deduction is allowed. However, if the ELCA is named both the sole owner and the beneficiary of a paid up policy, the donor may receive an immediate charitable deduction for the lesser of the policy’s fair market value or the net premiums paid and additional premiums paid by the donor may also be tax deductible.

    Naming the ELCA as a primary or contingent (after a spouse) beneficiary of a private pension fund (e.g. IRA, SEP, 401(k), 403(b)) can result in a “tax wise” testamentary gift because these assets do not receive favorable tax treatment at their owner’s death. In some cases, it is best to divide one retirement account into two separate accounts–one for the spouse and one for the ELCA. Your retirement account’s “plan administrator” (the company that manages the account) can help you designate the ELCA as a beneficiary on the plan’s “Beneficiary Designation” form (please copy the ELCA Foundation).

    You may generate a current income tax deduction by giving a home or farm to the ELCA, while retaining the right to use the property during your lifetime. The property will also be removed from your taxable estate.


The ELCA qualifies as a “public” charitable organization and meets the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). Gifts to the ELCA are deductible at the highest limits allowed for federal income or estate tax purposes.

*Income tax deductions – a person may deduct gifts of cash (or elect to deduct only the cost basis of an appreciated asset) up to 50% of their adjusted gross income (“AGI”) in a year. Gifts of appreciated real or personal property may be deducted up to 30% of a person’s AGI.  Excess deductions may be carried over for up to five (5) additional years.

**Estate tax deductions – testamentary gifts are deductible at 100% of the value of the assets donated to the ELCA.

For more information contact any development officer at the ELCA or your ELCA Foundation Regional Gift Planner TODAY at 1 (800) 638-3522