Questions about ministry gift planning programs

Q: Is there a cost for my ministry to partner with the LCMS Foundation?

A: Our one-year partnerships for gift planning services generally start at about $10,000. This offsets a portion of the cost of having a gift planner dedicate a set amount of time, each month, to be at your ministry and working directly with your leaders, members and supporters. At that level of partnership, most ministries typically see about 10 gift plans created each year, with the average value of those gifts being approximately $250,000.


Q: Will gift planning affect my weekly offerings or capital campaign?

A: No, our experience over sixty years has shown that gift planning (and having a gift planning program in place) do not diminish or negatively impact a ministry’s other sources of funding, including gifts made to congregations through the offering plate or donations made during capital campaigns.

This is for many reasons. But mainly, it’s because gift plans are usually “funded” by a donor’s non-cash assets. Things like their retirement accounts, life insurance policies and personal property. The vast majority of most donors’ wealth is within these types of assets.

Weekly giving, on the other hand, is typically based on a donor’s current cash-on-hand or income. Likewise, donations to capital campaigns typically come from savings or liquid assets.

So, asking donors to create a gift plan asks them to look at the blessings that may not be available to them to donate during their time on this Earth, but often are available once they’re called home to Heaven. Creating gifts from those assets don’t impact their “cash” assets and don’t diminish their generosity in sharing them with your ministry.

In fact, research shows that regular donors are more likely to create gift plans, and vice versa, those who are inspired to create gift plans for your ministry are often inspired to give more via the offering plate.

Q: Will the gift plans people create benefit my ministry directly?

A: They very often will, but there’s no guarantee. When we work with donors we never steer them to support a particular ministry. However, most donors already begin the process with plans to support the ministry that the gift planner is representing. Overall, we find that ministries are very pleased with the gifts that are created.

Q: Do gifts go to the Synod? Or to the LCMS Foundation? Do they decide where a donor's gifts will go?

A: No, all gifts go directly to the ministry or ministries a donor names in their plan. Many people do create gifts that benefit the Synod directly, and some choose to bless the Foundation with gifts, but if their plan names your congregation, for example, the funds from their gift will go directly to your congregation. In short, the Foundation’s role is to help your supporters create gifts that go directly to your ministry or other LCMS ministries they name in their plan. 

Q: What should we do with the gifts given to our ministry?

A: Donors need to be confident in your ministry’s ability to steward their gifts wisely. Does your ministry have an endowment or guidelines on how it invests and uses the gifts it receives? If not, the Foundation can help. We offer endowment expertise and investment services to help you grow and govern the gifts entrusted to your care. For more information, visit the Investment Services section of our website.


Q: Our ministry is small and our supporters have modest means. Is gift planning even an option for us?

A: Yes! When talking about gift planning, there is no such thing as “too little.” Even the smallest gifts can provide much needed support for ministry. Plus, many of us have assets that we aren’t aware possess value, and our gift planning counselors will work with your supporters to identify what they do have. 

Even small congregations and ministries are often surprised by the generous donor that few suspected had the means to make a substantial gift.


Q: Why choose the LCMS Foundation?

A: We were founded by the LCMS specifically to work with LCMS congregations, schools, RSOs and other ministries of the church. Our mission is to help God’s people honor the blessings he’s provided in a way that provides for their family and loved ones, but also helps support our church for generations to come. 

Our process is designed to benefit your ministry, and to benefit it directly. We work on your behalf, creating future funding sources that are your ministry’s, to use at your discretion.

Few other organizations offer the services we do. While there are LCMS-affiliated fundraisers and organizations that help with capital campaigns, none have the experience we offer in gift planning.

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Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

The Benefits of Gift Planning for Ministries

There are many benefits to having a gift planning program, but for ministries, often the most measurable is the generosity of the gifts their members create. Most basic partnerships with the Foundation lead to about 10 gift plans in the first year, with an average gift in the $250,000 range. 

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Starting a Gift Plan Program at Your Ministry

Starting a gift planning program for your ministry can be simple. We partner with dozens of congregations, schools, RSOs and many of the Concordia universities. Each year these partnerships result in $125 to $150 million in future planned gifts to LCMS organizations. If you think your ministry should have a program in place, we’d love to talk with you.

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How to Grow an Endowment

Growing your ministry's endowment doesn't have to feel daunting. Using decades of experience helping ministries establish strong endowments, we've outlined the most effective strategies to position your endowment for growth. 

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Contact Us

How can we help you today? If you're a ministry leader, current donor or account holder, or if you're new to the LCMS Foundation and would like more information, we'd love to hear from you. Please use the "I have a question or comment about" drop-down field below to get your comment to the correct person or department faster.