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43 minutes ago, Danzo said:

Its because your amount is a donation and the amount others make is also a donation.

If you don't want to donate, don't donate. if others don't want to donate, they shouldn't donate.  Implicit in the concept of donations, is that others use your money how they want to, not how you want to. (I believe it is also explicit on the donation form).

 

 

I can't speak for Scott but I understand why the donation isn't returned. 

The issue, as I understand it, is that most people don't want to overpay on their child's (or own) mission.  They want to pay what is owed and then keep what isn't to use for other expenses.  The church doesn't make it easy to actually see what is owed and does make it easy to overpay without realizing it. 

I don't think any of us believe the church is doing this on purpose, but it's the reality regardless of the intention.

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4 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I can't speak for Scott but I understand why the donation isn't returned. 

The issue, as I understand it, is that most people don't want to overpay on their child's (or own) mission.  They want to pay what is owed and then keep what isn't to use for other expenses.  The church doesn't make it easy to actually see what is owed and does make it easy to overpay without realizing it. 

I don't think any of us believe the church is doing this on purpose, but it's the reality regardless of the intention.

the problem is that nothing really is "Owed".  No one is denied going on a mission for not paying. There is no debt collection agency, no legal obligation.  I think the church could do a much better job explaining that.

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35 minutes ago, Danzo said:

you are and always have been free to use any of those funds for his education.

No one gets sent home from their mission for not paying. The church is not going to sue you or put a lien on your house (or his if he has a house).   

the 400.00 per month donation is just a suggestion (A strong suggestion, I admit), it isn't enforced.  I know of many people who served missions that didn't pay a dime into the mission fund. I know others (My self included at times) who have paid into the fund without a missionary.  When I donate to the fund, I don't expect that the missionary or their family won't donate a certain amount because I donate.  For me its a donation. I know that the church spends on average much more than the 400.00 per month on each missionary so I hope my donation will contribute to the continuation of the missionary program, not so that one particular missionary or their family can now feel they can donate less. 

Danzo, you’ve gotten me all wrong. 

I understand perfectly from your explanation (and thanks for it, by the way; it was a good one) why the Church will not refund money once it has been donated, and I’m totally onboard with it. Somehow, you’ve taken it into your head that I’m not, and it seems I can’t dislodge the notion from your mind. 
 

In summation: You can stand down, because I agree with you!

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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8 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I can't speak for Scott but I understand why the donation isn't returned. 

The issue, as I understand it, is that most people don't want to overpay on their child's (or own) mission.  They want to pay what is owed and then keep what isn't to use for other expenses.  The church doesn't make it easy to actually see what is owed and does make it easy to overpay without realizing it. 

I don't think any of us believe the church is doing this on purpose, but it's the reality regardless of the intention.

In this instance, you can speak for me, because you’ve articulated my thinking precisely!

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5 minutes ago, Danzo said:

the problem is that nothing really is "Owed".  No one is denied going on a mission for not paying. There is no debt collection agency, no legal obligation.  I think the church could do a much better job explaining that.

“Owed” might not be the proper term, but the Church quite properly refers to it as a “commitment,” because that’s what it is. When we as parents met with our bishop prior to our son submitting his mission application, we committed to providing the $400 a month — or more, if asked to. It may not be legally enforceable, but the commitment is there, notwithstanding. In a moral sense, if nothing else. 

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5 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

“Owed” might not be the proper term, but the Church quite properly refers to it as a “commitment,” because that’s what it is. When we as parents met with our bishop prior to our son submitting his mission application, we committed to providing the $400 a month — or more, if asked to. It may not be legally enforceable, but the commitment is there, notwithstanding. In a moral sense, if nothing else. 

In this case, you view your "commitment" as transferable to other parties? In other words, you have a commitment of x dollars that you can pay yourself or hit other people up for it?

I think that one of the problems may be that people think of it as a regular debt (like a phone bill, or rent for example) but for various reasons having to do with tax law and church policy (no missionary gets more or less based on money paid) it really isn't the same.

 

For me, if I made a "commitment" to donate, (and was able to pay) I would try to donate what I "committed" without regard for what others voluntarily donate.  I would not use other's generosity to get out of my commitment unless that was part of the commitment. (sort of like those fundraisers for the kids school trip where you have to pay for the trip with money or candy bars sold).

Maybe it should be viewed as a pledge to donate instead of a debt. Then people wouldn't be so concerned about having too much donated. 

 

 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Danzo said:

In this case, you view your "commitment" as transferable to other parties? In other words, you have a commitment of x dollars that you can pay yourself or hit other people up for it?

What are you talking about? I haven’t hit anybody up for anything, nor do I intend to. I didn’t even know anyone else had donated until I got the spreadsheet from the financial clerk and found somebody had given $25 five months ago. 
 

Are you saying the missionary’s family is obligated to pay the full $400 a month even after others of their own free will have contributed to the missionary’s fund, even when it results in an overpayment of the commitment? That makes no sense. Nothing the Church has stated and nothing in any of my interactions with local leaders has ever even come close to implying that. It might be your personal attitude regarding the matter, but others are not bound by it. 
 

Why would the online donation slip separate out the “missionary” category into subcategories for individual missionaries in the ward if it were not intended that any ward member who so desired could donate to any individual missionary’s fund?

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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1 hour ago, Danzo said:

the problem is that nothing really is "Owed".  No one is denied going on a mission for not paying. There is no debt collection agency, no legal obligation.  I think the church could do a much better job explaining that.

This contradicts what a previous poster/ward clerk said.  He said that he knew of members that ended up owing thousands because they stopped paying.  The church could definitely do a much better job of explaining things.

Edited by bluebell
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26 minutes ago, bluebell said:

This contradicts what a previous poster/ward clerk said.  He said that he knew of members that ended up owing thousands because they stopped paying.  The church could definitely do a much better job of explaining things.

I wonder if that poster could explain what he or she meant by members owing thousands because they stopped paying.  Was there a collection agency involved? Did they get a Judgment against them? A lien on the house?

I suspect that all that really happened was a solicitation that additional donation be given without any real consequences for not paying up.    I admit that there is a lot of ambiguity in the church.  A lot of it from the old days where it really was support for the missionary instead of a donation.  People are treating the new system like it was the old system.

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Are you saying the missionary’s family is obligated to pay the full $400 a month even after others of their own free will have contributed to the missionary’s fund, even when it results in an overpayment of the commitment? That makes no sense. Nothing the Church has stated and nothing in any of my interactions with local leaders has ever even come close to implying that. It might be your personal attitude regarding the matter, but others are not bound by it. 

If its a donation, no one has any obligation to pay anything.  Its a free will donation.  That is the way the law treats it. Even the church on its annual donation statement says that no goods or services were rendered in exchange for the money donated (including services to your missionary).  No one has an obligation to pay anything.

However it would seem that your view and the view of many here (perhaps encouraged by the church) is to treat the mission as a purchase with a fixed price that you (or some other volunteer) has to pay.  As such, you shouldn't be billed for something someone else has paid.  In that case you have a right to be upset that you were overcharged for your purchase by not having all of the payments on your purchase made by someone else reported to you. 

 

In a sense, I think the church wants to have it treated both ways, as a donation and as a purchase. Perhaps the church needs to more consistent on how they explain it. 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Danzo said:

I wonder if that poster could explain what he or she meant by members owing thousands because they stopped paying.  Was there a collection agency involved? Did they get a Judgment against them? A lien on the house?

I suspect that all that really happened was a solicitation that additional donation be given without any real consequences for not paying up.    I admit that there is a lot of ambiguity in the church.  A lot of it from the old days where it really was support for the missionary instead of a donation.  People are treating the new system like it was the old system.

I'm wondering what he meant by it too.  I don't think he's responded to my question yet.  He made it sound like you'd end up in the "has received church welfare" category and be required to work to make that up.  Or something like that.

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8 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I'm wondering what he meant by it too.  I don't think he's responded to my question yet.  He made it sound like you'd end up in the "has received church welfare" category and be required to work to make that up.  Or something like that.

I know many people who served missions without funding them.  My wife was one of them. Her parents were not members of the church (she left home when she was 13). She had no money.  She left from a poor spanish branch where no one had any money. She was never billed for not making payments. 

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18 minutes ago, Danzo said:

If its a donation, no one has any obligation to pay anything.  Its a free will donation.  That is the way the law treats it. Even the church on its annual donation statement says that no goods or services were rendered in exchange for the money donated (including services to your missionary).  No one has an obligation to pay anything.

However it would seem that your view and the view of many here (perhaps encouraged by the church) is to treat the mission as a purchase with a fixed price that you (or some other volunteer) has to pay.  As such, you shouldn't be billed for something someone else has paid.  In that case you have a right to be upset that you were overcharged for your purchase by not having all of the payments on your purchase made by someone else reported to you. 

 

In a sense, I think the church wants to have it treated both ways, as a donation and as a purchase. Perhaps the church needs to more consistent on how they explain it. 

 

 

This is how the First Presidency described it when they announced the short-lived increase in 2019.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Monthly Payment Increase for Missionary Living Costs

Since 2003, the monthly amount that a missionary, family, ward or branch pays to help cover a missionary’s living costs has remained unchanged. This amount has been the equivalent of $400 USD.

After careful consideration, missionaries and those who provide financial support will be asked to pay a monthly amount of $500 USD (or the local equivalent) beginning July 1, 2020.

That does make it sound like an obligation.

Edited by bluebell
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2 minutes ago, Danzo said:

I know many people who served missions without funding them.  My wife was one of them. Her parents were not members of the church (she left home when she was 13). She had no money.  She left from a poor spanish branch where no one had any money. She was never billed for not making payments. 

I know several people where that was the case as well.  But their missions were funded by the ward mission fund or different members.  

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4 minutes ago, bluebell said:

This is how the First Presidency described it when they announced the short-lived increase in 2019.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Monthly Payment Increase for Missionary Living Costs

Since 2003, the monthly amount that a missionary, family, ward or branch pays to help cover a missionary’s living costs has remained unchanged. This amount has been the equivalent of $400 USD.

After careful consideration, missionaries and those who provide financial support will be asked to pay a monthly amount of $500 USD (or the local equivalent) beginning July 1, 2020.

That does make it sound like an obligation.

I admit, it does. 

However, when you get your donation statement from the church at the end of the year says "The Church provided no goods or services in consideration, in whole or in part, for the contributions detailed below but only intangible religious benefits." 

It looks like the church wants to have it both ways.  

From the way the church acts (as apposed to what the church says) its a donation and not a purchase.  I get how its good to sacrifice for a mission and the church is encouraging the blessing that come from that sacrifice, but I think the church could change the wording so it doesn't look like they are trying to have it both ways.

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1 hour ago, Danzo said:

 I get how its good to sacrifice for a mission and the church is encouraging the blessing that come from that sacrifice, but I think the church could change the wording so it doesn't look like they are trying to have it both ways.

Speaking plainly, missions require sacrifice - time, money, effort, comfort, stress, faith, etc. The financial requirement is a requirement for those who can sacrifice it. Same with the other sacrifices. The Lord, and his church, will not require more without providing relief. This goes for any calling or commandment. Think of tithing. I had a family who could not afford almost anything during covid pay the little tithing from the little income they earned. They would also come to the bishop and humbly ask for funds to cover rent, utilities and groceries. But they paid their tithing. They offered 10% to the Lord's church and were blessed by well over 100%. During this time, they needed it. As the blessings continued to roll in, they stopped needing the additional funds.

Missions should be no different. If you can pay, pay. Someone is paying enough for your elder? Pay it forward what little you can, if you can. You will only receive blessings and be able to bless others who are more desperate and in need. Future Sisters and Elders in your ward, stake, area, or around the globe will benefit from your charity.

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On 10/26/2022 at 3:14 PM, Scott Lloyd said:

Here’s a tip if you are supporting a son or daughter on a mission. Do not make payments to his/her Church mission fund account in advance of what (s)he needs. You will not get money returned to you that your missionary ends up not receiving. The best you can expect is that the surplus funds will be transferred into the ward’s general missionary fund. 
 

This means you should keep careful track of the balance in your missionary’s account. There should not be a carry-over from month to month. 
 

Periodically — maybe once a month — ask your ward assistant clerk-finances to pull you a printout or send you a PDF reporting your missionary’s account status. Check to see if there have been others making donations to the account. If so, only pay enough for the respective month to total the $400 monthly commitment. 
 

Don’t be shy about asking the assistant clerk for this report. Accommodating you in this manner is in line with the duties of his calling. 
 

Also, postpone paying for the last month of the mission, particularly if you expect the missionary to be there for only part of the month. The Church will likely charge you for only a partial payment commensurate with how much of the month the missionary was in the mission. You can pay any remaining balance later, after the accounting shakes out and you can see what the remainder is. 

When I was on my mission my widowed mother sent me a check for the monthly amount. Nothing came from church headquarters. If she needed help the Bishop asked other ward members to contribute and then he would write a check from the ward missionary account and send that to me.

I guess I am different than others. When my kids went on missions I just paid the expected monthly amount and if there was any leftover it was there to help other missionaries in the ward. I had no expectations of getting it back. 

The Church never actually "charges" any member/family for a partial payment or any payment. The money all comes from the main Ward missionary account anyway, although we do keep track of what goes out for each missionary so we can let the parents or whoever know if their missionary is behind on payments into the Ward mission account.
When the Church takes out money for a particular missionary that is recorded in the finance program, but ultimately it all comes from the Ward missionary account.

Edited by JAHS
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3 hours ago, Danzo said:

I admit, it does. 

However, when you get your donation statement from the church at the end of the year says "The Church provided no goods or services in consideration, in whole or in part, for the contributions detailed below but only intangible religious benefits." 

It looks like the church wants to have it both ways.  

From the way the church acts (as apposed to what the church says) its a donation and not a purchase.  I get how its good to sacrifice for a mission and the church is encouraging the blessing that come from that sacrifice, but I think the church could change the wording so it doesn't look like they are trying to have it both ways.

Isn’t it the same way with tithing though?  While it is pure donation, there are consequences for not paying it, no matter how little or even if it amounts to nothing. 

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3 hours ago, Danzo said:

I admit, it does. 

However, when you get your donation statement from the church at the end of the year says "The Church provided no goods or services in consideration, in whole or in part, for the contributions detailed below but only intangible religious benefits." 

It looks like the church wants to have it both ways.  

From the way the church acts (as apposed to what the church says) its a donation and not a purchase.  I get how its good to sacrifice for a mission and the church is encouraging the blessing that come from that sacrifice, but I think the church could change the wording so it doesn't look like they are trying to have it both ways.

Maybe I am misunderstanding but I don't see how it's both ways. None of it is a purchase as the member should see it. They do not receive any goods or services from it. The statement means that the member receives intangible religious benefits in the way of blessings and knowing they are obeying God.  The Church as an organization does receive tangible benefits in that the donations pay for all the church expenses, including missionary work. 

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20 hours ago, Danzo said:

If its a donation, no one has any obligation to pay anything.  Its a free will donation.  That is the way the law treats it. Even the church on its annual donation statement says that no goods or services were rendered in exchange for the money donated (including services to your missionary).  No one has an obligation to pay anything.

It is treated by the Church as a donation, but if the missionary or the missionary’s family is in a position to help pay the costs, they are specifically asked to make the donation. If they are not able, then the donation will come from elsewhere, probably the ward missionary fund. 

20 hours ago, Danzo said:

However it would seem that your view and the view of many here (perhaps encouraged by the church) is to treat the mission as a purchase with a fixed price that you (or some other volunteer) has to pay. 
 

As such, you shouldn't be billed for something someone else has paid.  In that case you have a right to be upset that you were overcharged for your purchase by not having all of the payments on your purchase made by someone else reported to you. 

 

In a sense, I think the church wants to have it treated both ways, as a donation and as a purchase. Perhaps the church needs to more consistent on how they explain it. 

No, that’s not my view at all. Being asked to commit to making a donation is not the same thing as “treating it as a purchase with a fixed price.”

As I see it — and, apparently, as the Church sees it — once the amount has been paid, whether by me or someone else, my commitment has been satisfied. I’ve never indicated here that I’m upset that a surplus will not be refunded. I understand the rules and the reasons for them, and I’m quite willing to abide by them. That doesn’t preclude me or others, however, from being prudent in keeping track of the missionary’s account so as to avoid an overpayment. No one ever said that I was obliged to keep paying once the committed-to amount had been fulfilled. I don’t think the Church cares whether I pay the full amount myself or others participate. I would be very surprised to learn that they did. 

It’s quite clear already that it’s a donation regardless of the source, and expecting the Church to “change the wording” is an instance of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

 

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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57 minutes ago, JAHS said:

When I was on my mission my widowed mother sent me a check for the monthly amount. Nothing came from church headquarters. If she needed help the Bishop asked other ward members to contribute and then he would write a check from the ward missionary account and send that to me.

I guess I am different than others. When my kids went on missions I just paid the expected monthly amount and if there was any leftover it was there to help other missionaries in the ward. I had no expectations of getting it back. 

The Church never actually "charges" any member/family for a partial payment or any payment. The money all comes from the main Ward missionary account anyway, although we do keep track of what goes out for each missionary so we can let the parents or whoever know if their missionary is behind on payments into the Ward mission account.
When the Church takes out money for a particular missionary that is recorded in the finance program, but ultimately it all comes from the Ward missionary account.

One minor correction. This is not true at the present time. Every missionary has their own individual missionary account assigned to a ward which is not necessarily their “home ward” (oh boy, the hassles THAT can cause). Donations go to the individualized account. The Bishop or clerk can transfer money from the Ward Missionary fund into those individual accounts to cover shortfalls. Once the missionary returns home the clerk or bishop can zero out the account and the missionary department eventually removes it after a few months with no activity. This has caused minor problems where some good-hearted member is donating to an individual’s missionary fund after they return home and a member of the Bishopric has to ask them to please stop so they can zero out the account so it will eventually be dropped.

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2 hours ago, PeaceKeeper said:

Speaking plainly, missions require sacrifice - time, money, effort, comfort, stress, faith, etc. The financial requirement is a requirement for those who can sacrifice it. Same with the other sacrifices. The Lord, and his church, will not require more without providing relief. This goes for any calling or commandment. Think of tithing. I had a family who could not afford almost anything during covid pay the little tithing from the little income they earned. They would also come to the bishop and humbly ask for funds to cover rent, utilities and groceries. But they paid their tithing. They offered 10% to the Lord's church and were blessed by well over 100%. During this time, they needed it. As the blessings continued to roll in, they stopped needing the additional funds.

Missions should be no different. If you can pay, pay. Someone is paying enough for your elder? Pay it forward what little you can, if you can. You will only receive blessings and be able to bless others who are more desperate and in need. Future Sisters and Elders in your ward, stake, area, or around the globe will benefit from your charity.

 

9 hours ago, Danzo said:

Legally speaking, a contribution to the ward mission fund, either for yourself or someone else is considered a charitable donation under US tax law.

Currently, the missionary does not get any more or any less financial support based on contributions to the mission fund (or lack thereof). 

If one were able to get the money back, it wouldn't really be a charitable donation, it would be considered a contribution to the individual for his support and therefore not be deductible.

In the past support from the ward went directly to the missionary.  The US Supreme court in 1990 ruled that those donations were not tax deductible because they were donations to the individual on a mission and not to the church itself.  This probably was part of the reason the church changed the way missionaries are funded.  

Now, a contribution to the ward mission fund is considered tax deductible since it does not affect the financial support of the missionary. Giving money back could put that in jeopardy. 

 

I get that this is a charitable gift.  

The charity I am with allows you to make a donation to the general fund, a fund for food, and varies short term things like pots/pans or sheets.   They take those differences very seriously.  If my charity puts out on social media that they are collecting funds for food then we put it on food.  Some people want their money to only go to essential needs so they wouldn't want the money to go to art or a purse.  We are ok with that.  Other people don't care what the money is used for, within reason. So some people may choose not to give more if we have enough food. 

It's the same with missionary funds (or whatever the word is).  Yes, it is a donation, but people can choose not to give to that fund if it has enough money.  But that only works if people know how much was given. And that doesn't mean you get fewer blessings.  It means that you may get different blessings depending on what you do with it.

Edited by Rain
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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

I guess I am different than others. When my kids went on missions I just paid the expected monthly amount and if there was any leftover it was there to help other missionaries in the ward. I had no expectations of getting it back.

I think that’s fine. 
 

But I don’t believe others should be faulted for prudently keeping track of the donations so that some of their household funding — or the missionary’s personal funds, as the case may be —  can be channeled to other worthy purposes such as education or preparing for a temple marriage.
 

Many families who support missionary sons or daughters don’t have a great deal of surplus resources, and if outside donors step in to help with the missionary’s support, thus easing the burden on the family, that should be regarded as an unexpected blessing (even a tender mercy), but one that might be missed if the family is left unaware that the outside donation was made. 
 

If I can afford it, I might decide to contribute extra to the ward’s missionary fund beyond what I pay to support my missionary son, but I would prefer it be a conscious decision on my part, not something that happens haphazardly because donations to my son’s account have been made by others unbeknownst to me. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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5 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

One minor correction. This is not true at the present time. Every missionary has their own individual missionary account assigned to a ward which is not necessarily their “home ward” (oh boy, the hassles THAT can cause). Donations go to the individualized account. The Bishop or clerk can transfer money from the Ward Missionary fund into those individual accounts to cover shortfalls. Once the missionary returns home the clerk or bishop can zero out the account and the missionary department eventually removes it after a few months with no activity. This has caused minor problems where some good-hearted member is donating to an individual’s missionary fund after they return home and a member of the Bishopric has to ask them to please stop so they can zero out the account so it will eventually be dropped.

I guess what I mean is that the main category is Ward Missionary in the Ward finance program that includes all other sub-categories. Money can be donated to a specific missionary into his or her own sub category in the main Ward missionary category and when the money is taken out by the church headquarters it comes out of that missionary's sub category. The main Ward Missionary Category has a balance that includes all the donations and payments for all the missionaries, including money that was donated into the Ward Missionary account by other members. If a missionary is short on payments money can be transferred from the main Missionary Category by the ward to the missionary's sub category. Church headquarters only cares that the money somehow comes in from the ward and it's up to the ward to make transfers into the sub-categories as necessary.

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2 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I think that’s fine. 
 

But I don’t believe others should be faulted for prudently keeping track of the donations so that some of their household funding — or the missionary’s personal funds, as the case may be —  can be channeled to other worthy purposes such as education or preparing for a temple marriage.
 

Many families who support missionary sons or daughters don’t have a great deal of excess funds, and if outside donors step in to help, thus easing the burden in the family, that should be regarded as an unexpected blessing, but one that might be missed if the family is left unaware that the outside donation was made. 
 

If I can afford it, I might decide to contribute extra to the ward’s missionary fund beyond what I pay to support my missionary son, but I would prefer it be a conscious decision on my part, not something that happens haphazardly because donations to my son’s account have been made by others unbeknownst to me. 

And then you also have people who are not happy with the church for some reason.  They may be willing to give when their loved one is a missionary because they support the missionary, but if the missionary has enough they may want to give to a children's hospital instead. 

Edited by Rain
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