There is perhaps no greater pain in life than losing someone you care dearly for. Scripture promises the hope of a day when all those who grieve will be comforted and “death shall be no more” (Rev 21:4). It’s a beautiful vision, to be sure, but one we’re still waiting for.
Losing a loved one hurts, and it’s something we would just as soon forget. That is why we wanted to take the time to talk about something you might notice while running giving statements for your donors (if you haven’t already). You see, if someone with an active Deceased Date in your Church Community Builder site gave a donation during 2015, you will see their name on their family’s giving statement. We understand that this could stir up grief for remaining spouses and other family members, so we want to be upfront and communicative about why we’ve enabled the software to do this and how your church’s leadership can best handle this delicate situation.
Since your church’s giving statements are tax documents, the names of both the living Head of Household and the deceased spouse need to be on it if the deceased family member made a donation to your church in 2015 — if not, you won’t have to worry about their name showing up. Since your financial reports should reflect accurate information for the appropriate date range, those who have made contributions will show up on the statement, regardless of their status in your Church Community Builder site (Active, Inactive, Deceased).
This is actually a good thing for remaining family members, even though it may not feel like it. Not only is it a reminder of the generous legacy that their loved ones left behind, but in the case of an audit they will be able to show a consistent paper trail. This means that names attached to transactions on bank statements need to match names on contribution statements.
How Best to Respond
As you know, when ministering to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, care doesn’t stop when the funeral ends and the flowers and cards have stopped coming in. Because of this, it is important to be proactive about meeting the needs of people with deceased family members on their giving statements. In order to prepare for those who might find this process painful, we highly recommend running a search or report for people with a Deceased Date in 2015. You’ll probably want to save and run this search/report annually. If you have a process for grief care, you might include these families there. A phone call, home visit, or even just a handwritten note attached to their statement will go a long way toward letting them know that they are not forgotten and they are not alone. If you need to, take the time to explain why their deceased family member’s name in showing up. Let them know that they won’t see it on statements after this, and that this is to protect them in case of an audit.
There will come a day when death itself will meet its end (1 Cor 15:26; 2 Tim 1:10; Rev 20:14). Until then, thank you for being diligent in comforting those who mourn, even in the midst of tax season.