Donating to a missionary in another ward

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hpaulsen
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Postby hpaulsen » Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:13 am

Alan_Brown wrote:That's why the Church goes to such lengths to make sure that missionary donations are never refunded, and that donors have no control over how the funds are used once they are donated.


I had thought so, too, but I was surprised to see that donations into sub-categories of the Ward Missionary fund were recently introduced into MLS, apparently allowing members to donate to specific missionaries (as well as slowing down the tithing input considerably, as a simple donation to "Ward Missionary" now requires a click, a sub-category selection, an entry, and another click or enter instead of just tab-entry-tab).

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Postby aebrown » Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:02 am

HPaulsen wrote:I had thought so, too, but I was surprised to see that donations into sub-categories of the Ward Missionary fund were recently introduced into MLS, apparently allowing members to donate to specific missionaries (as well as slowing down the tithing input considerably, as a simple donation to "Ward Missionary" now requires a click, a sub-category selection, an entry, and another click or enter instead of just tab-entry-tab).


I guess you just recently noticed this, but the ability to have subcategories of the Ward Missionary fund has been in MLS from the beginning, and was also in FIS before that. This is nothing new -- it's been happening for a good 20 years.

And yes, it does take a bit more time during data entry, but most wards don't have all that many missionaries, so the total extra time is 10-30 seconds per donation and you may get 10-20 donations in a month. I think an extra 5-10 minutes a month is reasonable. It does help the bishop to work with the missionary families on the commitments they may have made for donations to the ward missionary fund.

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Postby hpaulsen » Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:18 am

Alan_Brown wrote:I guess you just recently noticed this, but the ability to have subcategories of the Ward Missionary fund has been in MLS from the beginning, and was also in FIS before that. This is nothing new -- it's been happening for a good 20 years.


Interesting. It seems strange that I remember so vividly a non-existent change: when filling out donations where people donated $10 to every category, I could just tab down the whole way (except for Other). Then for the past several weeks I've been doing the same thing out of habit but have to go back to correct myself. But looking back at an older version of MLS (2.9.3) with test data, I see a donation category tree that is years out-of-date. I suppose that the donation category information is a separate module of MLS that is updated during send/receives (and of course not updated during the dummy-send-and-receives when using test data).

And yes, it does take a bit more time during data entry, but most wards don't have all that many missionaries, so the total extra time is 10-30 seconds per donation and you may get 10-20 donations in a month. I think an extra 5-10 minutes a month is reasonable. It does help the bishop to work with the missionary families on the commitments they may have made for donations to the ward missionary fund.


I apologize if it sounded like I was complaining. I suppose I was - the (non-existent?) change has been an irritation for me. But more to the point, I am perplexed as to why the Ward Missionary fund would have sub-categories if donations to individual missionaries are not accepted. If I wanted to "work with the missionary families for the commitments they may have made", I would check their donor statement....

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Postby aebrown » Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:48 am

HPaulsen wrote:Interesting. It seems strange that I remember so vividly a non-existent change: when filling out donations where people donated $10 to every category, I could just tab down the whole way (except for Other). Then for the past several weeks I've been doing the same thing out of habit but have to go back to correct myself.


I don't have access to an older version of MLS right now, but I think you are right about there being a change to MLS in what fields you can tab to as you enter donations. As I said before, there has been no change in the fact that there are subcategories, but now (at least in with the test data) you can't tab to the Missionary field to simply enter an amount; rather you are required to go into the popup menu to enter the category or subcategory. If that's correct, then that would be a bit disconcerting to clerks who have developed certain habits as they efficiently enter donations into MLS (I'm at the stake level now, so we do far fewer, and much smaller deposits than do the wards).

HPaulsen wrote:But looking back at an older version of MLS (2.9.3) with test data, I see a donation category tree that is years out-of-date. I suppose that the donation category information is a separate module of MLS that is updated during send/receives (and of course not updated during the dummy-send-and-receives when using test data).


The high-level donation categories have not changed in years, so updates during send/receive really aren't an issue for the Ward Missionary account. Any subcategories are created and maintained locally. So I don't think this has anything to do with any changes that might have been downloaded during send/receive.

HPaulsen wrote:I apologize if it sounded like I was complaining. I suppose I was - the (non-existent?) change has been an irritation for me. But more to the point, I am perplexed as to why the Ward Missionary fund would have sub-categories if donations to individual missionaries are not accepted. If I wanted to "work with the missionary families for the commitments they may have made", I would check their donor statement....


While it's true that there are no "donations to individual missionaries," it is still helpful to track donations and expenses on behalf of individual missionaries.

By using subcategories you can get a much better report than a donor statement would provide. An Income and Expense summary (or detail) report will show:

  • Both donations and expenses in each subcategory
  • Donations from a variety of individuals (perhaps grandparents, or other ward members are contributing on behalf of a particular missionary)
  • The balance, which shows at a glance if there is a surplus or deficit.

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:53 am

Just to amplify on what Alan is saying, if you have a mix of "pre-pay" and "monthly pay" missionaries, the subcategories are the only way to maintain your sanity. If you only look at the bottom line, the "pre-pay" will cause the account to have a comfortable balance and may be hiding some families falling behind. You may not discover the problem until months later. With the subcategories, you'll see the problem immediately and can inform the bishop.

You can also guard against the stake or the auditor wanting to sweep "excess" funds.
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Postby gwert-p40 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:37 pm

danpass wrote:Isn't it the case that missionary support donations are not tax deductible?


Most financial clerks I know are pretty responsible! Members move all the time and call their old ward to get a receipt. I personally don't like convoluted solutions, so doing anything out of the ordinary shouldn't be seen as a special advantage for a member. IT's these types of requests that lead to problems. It's nice that the members want to help relatives in other wards, but part of that help should mean sending the check directly to the other ward. Shouldn't they have a relative in that other ward anyway?

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Similar situation

Postby gwert-p40 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:40 pm

We have a member with family members who made donations to his daughter's mission. He didn't realize until after his daughter returned that his relatives contributed over $2000 and now he wants a refund of that money. This is a sensitive situation but I'm not aware of provisions to refund the money and our finance clerk is supposed to call Salt Lake on the issue.

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Postby cbweatherman » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:54 pm

gwert wrote:We have a member with family members who made donations to his daughter's mission. He didn't realize until after his daughter returned that his relatives contributed over $2000 and now he wants a refund of that money. This is a sensitive situation but I'm not aware of provisions to refund the money and our finance clerk is supposed to call Salt Lake on the issue.


This is a sensitive issue, yes, but not a hard issue to take care of. From the Wiki article on Ward Missionary Funds:

It is important for donors to understand that any missionary funds they supply are purely donations. As with any other donations, once the money is given to the Church, it is not refundable under any circumstances. Donors may also not direct what happens with any donated funds. If the mission ends prematurely for any reason, any donations made to that point, even if they may amount to the full 18-24 months of support for the missionary, may not be returned to the donors.


Once the funds were donated, they became the property of the Church to do with as it pleases, and are not to be directed or refunded. Hope this helps!

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Postby lajackson » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:58 pm

gwert wrote:We have a member with family members who made donations to his daughter's mission. He didn't realize until after his daughter returned that his relatives contributed over $2000 and now he wants a refund of that money. This is a sensitive situation but I'm not aware of provisions to refund the money and our finance clerk is supposed to call Salt Lake on the issue.


There are no provisions at the local level to refund the money. This will be something the bishop and stake president will probably get involved in as they counsel with the member using guidance they will receive from the finance department.

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Postby lajackson » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:11 pm

gwert wrote:It's nice that the members want to help relatives in other wards, but part of that help should mean sending the check directly to the other ward. Shouldn't they have a relative in that other ward anyway?


Sometimes. Not always.

As our children have served missions, other family members have wanted to help. We sent them a few donation envelopes so they could mail their contributions directly to the bishop, as they should.

Some of them did not want us to know how much they contributed, and we honored that. The clerks handled everything confidentially, and once a quarter they would let me know how much had been contributed to the missionary fund in total, and I would then know how much still needed to be contributed to meet the $400 monthly amount the ward would be charged. It worked well because there was family (me) to make sure there was not shortfall.

In a few cases, a missionary served with no family in the area who were members, but with other relatives who did the same thing. They mailed their contributions to the bishop, and he and his clerks kept track of it. They just didn't have anyone in the home ward as "family", so if the amount needed fell short, the bishop made a quiet announcement in elders quorum or high priests group that it would be nice if a few brethren would like to contribute a small amount to the ward missionary fund for a month or two.

As I recall, those announcements came infrequently, perhaps only two or three times a year.


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