Can you legally change the designation of an offering? What happens if it was designated for a specific purpose, but you need those funds for something else? In this legal alert, The Christian Law Association shares what needs to take place.

Can A Church Change An Offering Designation?

When can a church or ministry change the designation of an offering to suit the needs they have?

With a word of caution for today’s pastors, here’s attorney David Gibbs, Jr. of the Christian Law Association.

A church treasurer contacted the Christian Law Association to be certain that the church had the liberty to spend donations as the pastor and the board saw fit. The church bylaws included a statement that indicated that designated funds could be used for other purposes. The giving envelopes included a similar statement and disclaimer. One of our attorneys at the Christian Law Association pointed out that bylaws are only binding on church members, and not everyone uses giving envelopes. The attorney said that the church would still be bound by the designation if a non-member (for example, a foundation) designated a gift without using an envelope. The church would be required to ask the donor for permission to change the designation in this case. Be sure that if you are going to reuse money for a purpose other than was promised, that you have permission of the donor.


This legal insight is provided by the Christian Law Association. Since 1969, CLA has been providing free legal assistance to Bible-believing churches and Christians who are experiencing difficulty in practicing their religious faith because of governmental regulation, intrusion, or prohibition in one form or another. The Christian Law Association exists to preserve Christian liberty for your children and grandchildren. CLA receives in excess of 100,000 phone calls annually, not counting the thousands of pieces of correspondence from those who are in some way facing legal difficulties for doing what the Bible commands. These cases involve Christians arrested for witnessing to others in public, public school students being told they do not have the right to read their Bibles at school, churches being excluded from communities, Christians being fired for sharing their faith at work, and thousands of other shocking assaults on our precious religious freedoms. CLA provides free legal services based in part on the generosity of God’s people.

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