Since 1997 the Moravian Ministries Foundation has been helping individuals who want to support their churches and favorite ministries through gifts from their wills and via other forms of “planned giving.” In recent years we have seen growing interest in creating what we call a Mission and Ministry Fund.
We all have an estate, whether it’s small or large. Too many people think their estate is small and thus they don’t need a will, while some who have large estates simply procrastinate in creating theirs. Regardless, we all need a will. If we die without one, the state steps in with laws which dictate what will become of our belongings. Therefore, the first question to ask before considering a Mission and Ministry Fund is:
Do I want to decide who will get what I have, or do I want the state to decide?
Clearly most of us have family and friends who we want to remember and share our blessings with when we are gone; these people should have a prominent place in our estate planning. However, if you enjoy your church’s music program, why not leave a gift that will support concerts which share the rich hymns and music of the Moravian Church with the community? Or if the church’s work with the less fortunate is important to you, why not consider leaving a portion of your estate to Sunnyside Ministry or Moravian Open Door?
Therefore, the second question to ask, after deciding that you will prepare an estate plan and remember your loved ones is:
Will I remember my church and/or favorite ministry in my estate plan?
If you decide that your church or favorite ministry will be in your estate plan, there are at least two ways for you to accomplish this:
1. Name your church or the ministry(ies) in your plan. There is suggested wording which will accomplish your wishes and can be brought to your attorney available from the Ministries Foundation or,
2. Create a Mission and Ministry Fund through the Foundation. A Mission and Ministry Fund is a written agreement between the eventual donor(s) and the Moravian Ministries Foundation that names one or more Moravian organization(s) as the beneficiary(ies) of annual distributions from the Fund. It is akin to an endowment or permanent fund where your name and generosity are forever affixed. The document is simple and very easy to prepare and understand.
There are a number of important features of a Mission and Ministry Fund:
• Each person is asked to identify which ministries of the Church will share in the annual distributions from the Fund, and these are specified in the document.
• Because charitable interests can and do change, the document is easily amended, without the cost and task of writing or amending your will. A call to the Foundation telling us what you want to change is all that is required.
• The agreement doesn’t obligate the individual to make a gift; instead, it says if a gift is left to the Foundation for the fund, we will act according to the donor’s wishes.
Because the Mission and Ministry Fund will make annual distributions in the donor’s name in perpetuity, there is what is called “contingency” language in the document. This says if an organization refuses to accept the funds or ceases operation, then its share will first be awarded to the other organizations receiving distributions; and/or it authorizes the Foundation to identify another organization with a similar purpose.
Generally a Mission and Ministry Fund can be created with a gift of $10,000 or more. Because we know people have a wide range of charitable interests, the fund can accommodate non-Moravian causes as long as the Moravian Church’s ministry(ies) have a
Expert and Capable Management
Your Moravian Ministries Foundation currently manages 14 Mission and Ministry Funds which are distributing to Moravian churches and agencies every year; since 2003 almost $330,000 has gone to churches for scholarship aid, preschool programming, graveyard maintenance and more, and also to vital ministries such as Sunnyside, the Board of World Mission, Laurel Ridge and Moravian Theological Seminary.
For example, in February 2008, Fred Masten created the Betty and Fred Masten Mission and Ministry Fund. He passed away in November 2009 and left almost $670,000 to the fund, which now and forever aids Home Church, the Southern Province’s Pastoral Care and Education Fund, Laurel Ridge, Salem Congregation for God’s Acre and Fred’s parents’ church in the North Carolina mountains. In the short time the Masten Fund has been in operation, more than $117,000 has been distributed to the ministries Fred and Betty valued most.
The Foundation is a highly-skilled manager of planned gifts and invested funds; in fact, in a recent study of faith-based and community foundations from across the US, the Moravian Ministries’ investment returns ranked number one over a one, three and five year period. This is because we have worked very hard to ensure we deliver the best investment returns at the lowest cost. We have also built a solid reputation of providing the people and churches we serve with a “superior customer service experience.” Today, the Foundation manages over $140 million in assets for Moravian churches and agencies.
Paul McLaughlin is president of the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America. For more information, visit www.mmfa.info.
From the October 2013 Moravian Magazine