Making Ministries Better
By Bill and Brenda Evans
BASF is a chemical corporation founded in 1865 and based in Germany. In 1991, the company ran an interesting commercial on television. The commercial showed a beautiful room of carpet being laid and said, “We don’t make the carpet; we make it last longer.” It continued with video of a car being painted and said, “We don’t make the paint; we make it brighter.” The commercial concluded with, “We don’t make a lot of the products you buy; we make a lot of the products you buy better.”
The goals of Free Will Baptist Foundation are similar. We don’t educate students, we are not a missionary sending agency, and we are not a church. Our service is to partner with every Free Will Baptist ministry and make them better by providing financial assistance directly to ministry and individuals. We provide direct funding to ministries to support them in their work. The staff of Free Will Baptist Foundation stands ready to serve in many ways to make our ministries better.
The Foundation was “born” in July 1980 with a single, unique mandate, according to Director David Brown: “Our sole purpose is to serve our people and our Free Will Baptist ministries. Our financial services are not about us, but about helping our people and our denominational ministries—always has been; always will be. This began under founding director Herman Hersey, carried forward under director Bill Evans, and continues with me. We’ve all known what we were called to do, and we do it.”
“Our board reflects that uniqueness,” he continues. “It’s a large board made up of nine members elected by the National Association, plus the directors for each of the national departments. Our board understands that our purpose is to provide financial services to our people and our denominational ministries. That’s why we exist.”
This year, as the Foundation approaches age 37, its assets have grown from $0 in 1980 to more than $70 million in 2017. It certainly has lived up to its mandate of financial service under the Lord’s banner.
Summary of Services
The Foundation works with each national department, as well as local, state, and regional ministries, individuals, and families in the denomination to offer services in five areas: money management trusts, endowments, planned gifts, estate planning, and grants.
Money Management Trusts. A money management trust is a fully revocable agreement that earns a variable rate of return (while the rate is variable, we have remained at 2.75% since 2008). MMT funds are invested conservatively and, throughout the years, have earned 1-2% above inflation. These trusts are available to churches, other types of FWB ministries, individuals, and families. Many use an MMT for savings or emergency fund. The minimum beginning deposit is $1,000.
Endowments. Endowments are gifts to benefit denominational ministries so the principal is preserved while the earnings are “harvested” to support the donor’s ministries of choice. The original gift remains in place perpetually. The concept is rooted in the Old Testament idea that the Israelites were to live off the land but not consume it. Endowments do just that: preserve the principal but pass the earnings along to the donor’s favorite FWB ministries.
Planned Gifts. Planned gifts enable donors to fund gift agreements with cash, real estate, stocks, bonds, or other assets during their lifetimes while retaining much of the financial benefits from those assets. Charitable gifts, annuities, unitrusts, and annuity trusts are among several options that allow donors to receive income and professional management for life. Planned gifts share four main characteristics: the donor receives a partial income tax deduction and an immediate income stream. The income received is tax advantaged and, in some cases, tax-free income. At his or her death (or deaths in the case of a joint agreement), the balance of the trust transfers to the chosen Free Will Baptist ministry.
Estate Planning. The Foundation, in collaboration with Cornerstone Estate Planning, offers full-service estate planning for Free Will Baptist families and individuals. (See “God Robbers?” on page 8 for more information.) Over 1,400 families have utilized this service, and many are directing a portion of their estate to Free Will Baptist ministries.
Grants. In April 2017, the Foundation will award $500,000 in grants to eligible Free Will Baptist ministries. These grants are funded by realized gains on appreciated, dividend-paying stock and, to some extent, excess earnings.
Every Free Will Baptist ministry that is a member of the National Association of Free Will Baptists is eligible. All levels of membership—local churches, district associations and their owned ministries, state associations and their owned ministries, and National agencies and commissions—are included. Please contact the Foundation for a grant application.
Grant proposals will be considered under the following stipulations:
Preference will be given to projects that benefit multiple FWB ministries.
Preference will be given to long-term, capital, and self-perpetuating projects.
Applicant organizations must demonstrate sound financial practice, have been in existence for at least two years, and the senior leader (president, chairman, pastor, etc.) of the organization must have been employed by the applying organization for at least two years.
Applications must be typed, address questions concretely and specifically, and observe specified length.
Applications are due March 15 of the applying year by regular mail. No telephone, fax, or e-mail applications will be accepted.
The inquiry should include the project timeline, total program budget, estimated project amount sought from the Foundation, and the source of other funds. Notifications of grant funding will be sent by April 30 of the applying year.
For financial services and guidance, Free Will Baptists have the Foundation whose staff is committed to serve. Visit the website at www.fwbgifts.org or call 877-336-7575 (toll free) to learn more.
About the Writers: Bill and Brenda Evans live in Ashland, Kentucky. Bill is former director of Free Will Baptist Foundation, and Brenda is a retired English teacher.