Common questions

You'll find a list of common questions here, categorized by topic.  If you don't find your own question, please don't hesitate to contact us and we'll be pleased to assist you.

Questions about Stewardship:

I've come to realize how important it is to begin early in teaching my children about handling the blessing God's given them. Are there resources I could use or pass on to my church to assist?

We hear a lot about our being "stewards" of what God has given us. Can you explain what that might mean today?

We know that we should be putting money away for the future, even as we struggle to meet our current needs. How much should that be?

Questions about Giving Marketable Securities:

Is it more beneficial to make a gift from cash or securities?

I like the idea of gifting securities to charity and wiping out the capital gain that way. However, I'm not sure I want to give all of one of my stocks away. What portion of my securities do I need to donate so that the tax on the securities that I sell will be eliminated?

The charity I wish to make a donation to has difficulty accepting marketable securities as gifts. Is there another way I can donate to them while still getting the tax relief associated with donating stock?

Questions about Giving RRSPs and RRIF's:

Why do I hear so much about gifting RRSP and RRIF accounts lately?

Can I name only one charity as the beneficiary of my registered accounts?

Questions about Planned Giving:

I've been told that it's good to plan now for our charitable giving for next year. Why is that helpful?

My accountant tells me that for tax saving purposes I should make a charitable donation before year end. I can't decide that quickly who should receive this gift. What can I do?

I'm in a situation where I can make a large gift to ministry this year but cannot use the entire donation receipt because it'll be more than 75% of my net income. What can I do?

We would like to work with our financial advisor on creating a Lifetime and Estate Giving Plan for our family. What are some questions we should consider in advance of discussing this?

We would like to make an anonymous gift to a ministry that has become near and dear to us, but we don't want them knowing the source of this gift. We may wish to do this with other charities as well, since we do not want any personal recognition from these gifts. Can you help?

I've come to realize how important it is to begin early in teaching my children about handling the blessing God's given them. Are there resources I could use or pass on to my church to assist?
Crown Financial Ministries is one organization that offers outstanding studies for young people beginning as early as age five. A helpful leader's guide is available for each study. Children love these studies and learn principles that will set them on a lifelong path of wise money management.

The studies for children may be taught in a variety of settings: one-to-one with you at home, in a small group, in a Sunday school class, or in a Christian school. No leader training is required for the children's and teens' studies.

The ABC's of Handling Money God's Way is for children 7 and younger. This book is full of activities to help make learning basic financial principles fun and exciting. It is a "hands on" experience, because children this age learn from doing.

The Secret of Handling Money God's Way is for children from 8-12 years old. Financial principles come alive in the captivating story of four children with a financial challenge. As they learn the secret of giving, saving, spending, and much more, young readers learn along with them.

In God We Trust Children's Study is recommended for ages 5-11. This four-week study teaches your children creatively through videos and CDs about how to give, save and spend money wisely. Top of Page...

We hear a lot about our being "stewards" of what God has given us. Can you explain what that might mean today? We've used a teaching written by ADVISORS with Purpose™ member, Tom Copland, to answer this question.

In substance, "a steward" is a manager of someone else's property. As such, a steward should look to the owner of that property for direction on how the owner wants the resources utilized. That owner is God, who owns everything.

"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters." (Psalm 24:1, 2)
"The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty." (Haggai 2:8)

Keep in mind that at the time this verse was written, silver and gold were used as money. So, in effect, God is saying that all money is His.

In other words, we are managers of the material wealth that God has entrusted us with for the time that we live here on earth. It's important to remember that our time here on earth is very short when compared to eternity. If you believe that you are the owner of the material wealth you have, I encourage you to consider what you will think five minutes after you have died. I believe that then we will all realize that we are not owners but rather managers, or stewards, of the money and material things that God has entrusted us with while we are here on earth.

To be a biblical steward means

  • that you manage money and material things according to the principles that God has provided in His Word, and
  • that you utilize the financial resources that God has entrusted you with according to God's will and not your will.

I believe that the following definition for biblical stewardship is appropriate.

A Christian practices biblical stewardship by:

  1. acknowledging-in mind and heart-that God owns everything and then acting accordingly,
  2. learning and implementing God's principles in managing the money and material things that God has entrusted to him or her,
  3. utilizing these resources in accordance with God's will, not one's own will.   Top of Page...

We know that we should be putting money away for the future, even as we struggle to meet our current needs. How much should that be? For many people today, putting aside funds for future use is a challenge. When asked about whether that was being done, here is how many responded:

  • Yes - I have no problem setting money aside - 25.71% of respondants
  • No - our finances are so tight we can't save - 28.57% of respondants
  • Yes - although it's difficult, we manage to put some away - 31.43% of respondants
  • No - we wouldn't have a problem, but I don't know how - 14.29% of respondants

The scripture clearly says: "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." - Proverbs 21:20

Using the wisdom from this verse, we can see that the Bible says it's wise to maintain a reserve. In practical terms, many financial advisors and budgeting books would advise putting away 10% of one's income for savings. But we should also remember the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:17-21), which says putting too much focus on savings is foolish. And that brings up a challenging question: How do we know when we've crossed the line between wise saving and foolish hoarding? Here are a couple of questions to consider.

  • Are we trying to save every penny today without having calculated an appropriate and reasonable amount for our goals?
  • Are we obsessed with a specific savings goal because that's the amount we're certain will enable us to finally find happiness, or feel better, or...(fill in the blank)?

The line between wise saving and foolish hoarding is not clearly marked. One thing is certain, though: It is not drawn with numbers, but with the attitude of our heart. As we save for our later years, our children's tuition, or other goals, we would be wise to regularly ask ourselves whether our faith is truly centered on God or on the size of our savings and investment accounts. Better yet, we'd be wise to ask God, utilizing King David's humble prayer: "Search me, O God, and know my heart" (Psalm 139:23)   Top of Page...

Is it more beneficial to make a gift from cash or securities?
If publicly traded shares are donated to a public foundation such as CNCF, then none of the capital gain will be treated as taxable income. On top of these sometimes significant capital gains savings, the donor receives a donation receipt to be used as a tax credit, thereby potentially decreasing federal and provincial taxes to be paid on other income. Top of Page...

I like the idea of gifting securities to charity and wiping out the capital gain that way. However, I'm not sure I want to give all of one of my stocks away. What portion of my securities do I need to donate so that the tax on the securities that I sell will be eliminated?Certainly there are occasions when you may not wish to donate all the securities since you may want to reinvest the proceeds or use them for lifestyle expenses. As you indicate, you may want to donate a portion of your securities and sell the remaining portion. As a result, the donation tax credit on the portion of the securities that you donate can reduce the tax liability on the capital gain triggered on the disposition of the remaining portion (i.e. portion not donated).

The following formula should be used in order to calculate the fair market value (FMV) of the shares to be donated in order to eliminate the tax on the sale of the securities that you retain:

FMV of the Donated Securities = (FMV)(FMV - ACB) / (3FMV - ACB)

As an example, you may wish to donate securities with a FMV of $50,000 and an adjusted cost base (ACB) of $20,000. Applying these numbers to the formula means a gift of $11,538 is required to eliminate taxation on this transaction. The charity receives the gift and you retain over $38,000 for your own use, while no taxes are paid. Top of Page...

The charity I wish to make a donation to has difficulty accepting marketable securities as gifts. Is there another way I can donate to them while still getting the tax relief associated with donating stock?
The Canadian National Christian Foundation has the mechanisms in place that will allow you to donate your stocks or mutual funds and then have cash distributed to the charities/ministries of your choice. You simply prepare a form for your broker to have your securities of choice transferred to CNCF. Our broker liquifies the asset and then distribution is made according to the Letter of Direction you provide. CNCF provides a donation receipt for you for the value of the stock on the day it was transferred to us.   Top of Page...

Why do I hear so much about gifting RRSP and RRIF accounts lately?
There is a growing awareness of the tax liability on the sale of registered (RRSP and RRIF) assets at death. Of course, when the first spouse passes away the surviving spouse becomes the owner of the assets without tax implications, if they are named the beneficiary of the accounts. The problem arises at the death of the last spouse, when the registered assets must be sold. The total value of the accounts on the date of death is added to the deceased's income in that year, creating a tax liability of almost 50% of the value of the accounts.

In recent years, CRA has allowed Canadians to name a charity as the secondary beneficiary of registered accounts. In that case, the funds are given to charity and a donation receipt is triggered which will completely offset the tax liability caused by the sale of the RRSP and RRIF assets. The charity receives a generous gift and the deceased has no tax to pay on the assets - a WIN / WIN! Top of Page...

Can I name only one charity as the beneficiary of my registered accounts?
The simplest way to distribute your gift to many charities is to name a foundation such as CNCF as the beneficiary of your registered accounts and leave instructions as to the final distribution of the funds. Simply name the charities and the percentage to be distributed to each one. CNCF writes the donation receipt and takes care of the details.  Top of Page...

I've been told that it's good to plan now for all our yearly charitable giving. Why is that helpful?
The scriptures have much to say about our management of what God has entrusted to us. Once we recognize that all we have belongs to God, we must also then plan to return to His work as much as we can. Rather than simply handing cash to those who come knocking at our doors, it's prudent to lay out our annual giving so that we are:

  • intentional in our giving - having prayerfully considered which ministries and organizations should receive our gifts because they are engaged in work that is dear to our hearts and God's.
  • efficient in our giving - knowing that a significant and purposeful gift can sufficiently equip a ministry to carry out its efforts effectively.
  • effective in our giving - offering a consistent, regular gift to a ministry ensures their work continues in earnest, without undue focus on continuous fundraising.
  • generous in our giving - recognizing in our family budgeting that God has faithfully provided for our needs, we can generously include God's work through our tithes and giving.
  • biblical in our giving - having planned our giving, we can do so with thankful and cheerful hearts.It would be helpful to discuss this question with your financial advisor.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 says "each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." Top of Page...

My accountant tells me that for tax saving purposes I should make a charitable donation before year end. I can't decide that quickly who should receive this gift. What can I do?
Your cash or non-cash gift can immediately be donated to the Canadian National Christian Foundation, which is a public foundation. You would then be required to distribute at least 80% of it before the next calendar year end, giving you the next 12 months to contemplate and pray about which charitable organization(s) should be the recipient(s) of all or a part of your gift. A donation receipt would be issued upon receipt of this gift by CNCF. Top of Page...

I'm in a situation where I can make a large gift to ministry this year but cannot use the entire donation receipt because it'll be more than 75% of my net income. What can I do?Even though CRA has expanded our opportunity to claim donation tax credits, there are occassions where people are unable to use all their donation receipts. Sometimes seniors on modest incomes give away assets that award them donation receipts they cannot use the same tax year. Perhaps the receipt of an inheritance offers one an opportunity to make an extraordinarily generous gift.

As Canadians we are able to carry forward donation reciepts for the next five years. Married couples or common-law partners can pool their donations and claim them on one return.

Remember that the contribution limit rises to 100% for a deceased taxpayer's final tax return in the year of death and for the tax return for the immediately preceding year. The inclusion of RRSP and RRIF income often associated with a deceased person's return increases the net income, allowing donations carried forward to be used at that time.

And finally, sometimes it's just not about getting and using donation receipts that will benefit us in any way. Jesus had a lot to say about feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, visiting the prisoner and the sick, and giving drink to the thirsty (see Matt. 25:34-36). It was about having a heart of gratitude, not getting the donation receipt! Top of Page...


We would like to work with our financial advisor on creating a Lifetime and Estate Giving Plan for our family. What are some questions we should consider in advance of discussing this?
It would be good to prayerfully consider the following questions before getting to the details of a Life and Estate Giving Plan with your advisor.

  • Why are you interested in charitable giving?
  • What would you like to accomplish with your giving?
  • What are your passions, values and goals for your giving?
  • How would you like to be involved in, or manage, your giving?
  • How have you given to charity and ministry in the past?
  • How much do you want to commit to your philanthropy during your lifetime and how much after your death?
  • How much is enough to leave your children / family?
  • Do you want to involve others in your giving, either inside or outside your family? If so, who?
  • Are there time-sensitive tax considerations influencing your giving decision?
  • Do you need income from your financial assets now? If so, be clear about this with your advisor.
  • Would you like your charitable giving to be part of your retirement planning? If so, in what ways?  Top of Page...

We would like to make an anonymous gift to a ministry that has become near and dear to us, but we don't want them knowing the source of this gift. We may wish to do this with other charities as well, since we do not want any personal recognition from these gifts. Can you help? The scriptures actually encourage anonymous giving, as stated in Matthew 6:3-4 where is says "When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Passing a gift through a public foundation means the cheque to the charity comes from the foundation, not the original donor. So yes, the Canadian National Christian Foundation can facilitate your request.

Simply make a gift of cash or securites to CNCF and provide a letter of direction for us so we can distribute your gift according to your wishes. CNCF will provide a donation receipt to you but will not divulge your name in the cover letter to the charities involved.

Making anonymous gifts can spare you from being bombarded with mail after your name has been entered into their database. Just another reason to give it some thought.   Top of Page...