By definition, temporarily restricted funds are donations to the church that come with stipulations that limit the use of the funding to a specified purpose. The funding can be spent but just for the intended purpose. What happens when the funds can no longer be used for the designated purpose?
For funds on hand currently for projects that have been completed, if the amounts are immaterial to the project size and there are no further expenses for the project, the remaining funding should be used for a similar project (if applicable), provided for ministry support within the ministry area relating to the donation, or released for general budgetary support at the agreement of the Finance Committee and Church Council.
If the amounts remaining are large and material to the project size, if the donors can be identified, the donors should be approached with a plan for approval of a new use of the funds – a new project, general budgetary support, a similar project, etc. If the amounts remaining are large and material to the project size, if the donors cannot be identified, a proposal for use of the funds should be developed and presented for charge conference approval along with a new gift acceptance policy outlining future plans for how this will be handled if it occurs again.
A gift acceptance policy should be developed to guide the church leadership in the types of donations that can be accepted, proper approvals needed to accept donations for particular purposes and what happens to funds left after a project is complete. Donors should be made aware of this policy at the time of donation to ensure their agreement to the ultimate disposition of any remaining funds at project completion. Download a sample gift acceptance policy from our website for more information.