- If you would like to support a good cause* outside the U.S., and
- If you are a U.S. taxpayer seeking to make tax-deductible donations,
we may be able to help – through the St. Paul’s Directed Gift Program.
* What do we consider “good causes”? We are most familiar with European and, in particular, German-speaking churches and charities. However, good causes are not limited to traditional churches in Germany, Austria, Switzerland or other parts of Europe. We may support all houses of worship and disaster relief, children’s aid, anti-poverty, anti-disease and other related agencies and good causes as long as we can verify that they are in furtherance of St Paul’s own religious purpose.
Who or what is St. Paul’s? The German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Paul in New York (“St Paul’s”) is a bona fide church, operated as a New York Religious-Corporation-Law corporation. It was incorporated in 1898 and remains an active church today, serving the needs of people in the New York area and elsewhere. St Paul’s qualifies for tax-exempt status and, as such, donations are deductible under U.S. federal income tax regulations.
What is a Directed Gifts Program? Directed gifts programs can accept donations from donors who pay tax in the U.S. and use these donations to support certain good causes outside the U.S. Through directed gifts programs and the tax benefits afforded by law to certain charities, the state basically encourages and supports charitable giving. In many cases, churches (such as the ELCA), synagogues and schools have their own directed gifts programs. There are also specialized directed gift program operators.
St. Paul’s Directed Gifts Program (“DGP“) supports our congregation’s work in the U.S. as well as internationally, and allows donors to support certain good causes outside the U.S. while maintaining the tax deductible status of their donations. Though our DGP constitutes only a small portion of St Paul’s overall activities, we are proud to be of service to other charities, good causes and their benefactors in this manner, and we view this as part of our overall mission.
Is this for me? If you are a U.S. taxpayer, and you wish to support good causes outside the U.S., this may be right for you, subject to the certain conditions. Such conditions may include (but not be limited to) the donation being made in good faith and, to the best of our knowledge, not in contradiction with any laws, and the recipient being a good cause, the support of which would be relevant to our goals and works. Below are some hypothetical examples of cases which might apply:
A woman in New York wishes to donate $1,000 to a specific house of worship in Europe. Or perhaps she wishes to support a specific, non-U.S. charity for street-children in Africa. Either way, St. Paul’s DGP facilitates the donation and the recognition of the donation by the IRS for U.S. tax purposes.
A German partner of a multinational consultancy, law firm or other similar company finds that his income is taxable in the U.S. He wishes to donate to a bona fide charity in Germany, yet this may not be recognized for U.S. tax purposes. Through St. Paul’s DGP, he can route his donation and be assured recognition for U.S. tax purposes.
An American wishes to support the renovation of churches in Europe, or the fight against a crippling disease in Europe or elsewhere, or support the victims of a terrible disaster outside the U.S., but he or she does not know how specifically to best do it. In many cases, St. Paul’s can work with our partners, particularly the Evangelical Church in Germany, to find suitable recipients, accept the (tax-deductible) donation, convert it into the appropriate currency and transfer it to the right place in Europe or elsewhere.
In all these cases, the tax benefit associated with St. Paul’s qualifying for tax-exempt status allows a greater amount of the donation to reach the recipient and support good works. For example, if the lady from New York could only afford to donate $1,000 pre-tax, the lack of a tax benefit might reduce the amount to $700, assuming a 30% tax bracket. By routing her donation through a directed gifts program, she can maximize the amount of money that reaches her intended good cause.
Further examples of likely potential recipients include, but are not limited to:
German, Austrian, Swiss, Scandinavian or other European churches
German, Austrian, Swiss, Scandinavian or other European charities
Brot für die Welt (“Bread for the World”; www.brot-fuer-die-welt.de)
Disaster relief, children’s aid, anti-poverty, anti-disease and other related agencies and good causes generally.
Can anyone use this, for any purpose? No. Only if the operator of a directed gifts program (in our case, the church board) verifies that the donation and the recipient fall within the appropriate parameters can use of a directed gifts program be made. In the case of St. Paul’s DGP, donations must be in furtherance of St Paul’s own religious purpose. Please contact us directly to discuss this if you have any questions. We would be glad to consider your requests and help you as best as we can.
How does it work exactly? If a donation is considered by St. Paul’s church board and deemed to be in furtherance of St Paul’s own religious purpose, the donor may transfer their donation to St. Paul’s with a specific wish or suggestion. For example, “I suggest St. Paul’s support the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in Dresden“, or “I suggest St. Paul’s support organization XYZ”. Please see the “Gift-Form”, downloadable from this website, for details.
A formal determination will them be made by St Paul’s to pass on (a portion of) the contribution received (again, assuming that such forwarding of contributions is in furtherance of St Paul’s own religious purpose). However, St Paul’s retains full control and discretion over the use of the contribution, including the decision whether or not to pass it on. Donors must understand that the ultimate decision of how the funds will be used, including whether they will be contributed to other organizations, remains in St Paul’s discretion. In practice, we prefer you discuss your intention with us before transferring money so that we can assure ourselves that we will be able to fulfill your request, leaving all parties satisfied in having done good works.
Donations to St. Paul's Church are tax deductible and, once we have received your donation and your signed St. Paul's DGP form (fax and scanned e-mailed copies acceptable), we will send you a receipt for tax purposes. We encourage you to consult with your tax advisor and remind you that we do not render any tax advice, nor do we suggest how you treat your donation to us for tax purposes.
How does one transfer money? We welcome donations to the church as they support our good works. We are able to accept checks in the U.S. and wire transfers in both the U.S. and Germany. Checks should please be sent to: German Evangelical-Lutheran Church of St. Paul, P.O. Box 1971, New York, NY 10113- 1971.
Wire transfers in Germany/Europe may be sent to: Evang. Kreditgenossenschaft Hannover, Georgsplatz 10, D-30159 Hannover, Germany Account number (Konto Nr.) 618551 Bank routing code (Bankleitzahl Nr.) 250 607 01.
What benefit does this offer St. Paul’s? Our DGP serves donors, charitable recipients (good causes) and the congregation of St. Paul’s. DGPs generally charge an administration fee, often 5% of the donation, though in some cases this may be more or less. If a donor uses our DGP, these administrative fees (generally 5% are suggested) are used to support St. Paul’s good works in New York and our efforts generally.
Bank account in Germany: Evang. Kreditgenossenschaft Hannover, Georgsplatz 10, D-30159 Hannover, Nr. 618551 BLZ Nr. 250 607 01
Checks in the USA should be addressed to: German Evangelical-Lutheran Church of St. Paul’s, P.O. Box 1971, New York, NY 10113-1971
Wire transfers in the U.S. can be sent to: Citibank New York: Account Nr. 95285589, Routing Nr. 021000089.