Many churches maintain what is known as a benevolence fund. "Benevolence" refers to a feeling of kindness or goodwill, or an act of kindness or charity. Most often benevolence funds are used to help people in the church or surrounding community through financially-difficult times.
A church committee will usually create stipulations regarding appropriate use of the funds. These guidelines are meant to ensure the church is following all relevant tax codes as well as ensure they are stewarding the funds well and helping those truly in need. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has some recommendations for churches or organizations seeking to establish benevolence funds.
No doubt Christians are called to care for those in need. First John 3:17–18 says, "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." Second Corinthians 9 talks about being a "cheerful giver." The early church in Acts 2 is shown contributing to one another's material needs. Today, a benevolence fund can be an excellent way for a church to have finances set aside to help those in need and express God's love through tangible means.
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