Stock offerings – Churches get high-tech shares

As a sign of the soaring information economy, high-tech stocks increasingly are replacing cash and check donations to churches and charities, the Los Angeles Times reports.

As stocks become more widely issued in the workplace and more frequently used as barter or payment for services, this new currency is also affecting charitable contributions.

Religious organizations say they almost always cash out stock donations immediately, opting not to play the stock market, the Times says.

Still, delays in transferring shares from the account of the donor to that of the recipient result in big gains or losses for the charity. 

The value of a gift – and the tax write-off – is the average trading price of the stock on the day it hits the church’s brokerage account. 

Some theologians compare the rising trend of stock contributions to land contributions to the church in medieval Europe. Wealthy landowners gave land – the equivalent of stock – to monks in place of cash.

“It’s a pattern most common during periods when you have seriously rich people,” Andrew Brown, an expert on religious trends, told the Times.

Donors who give appreciated property such as stocks to charitable institutions generally can deduct a maximum of 30 percent of their adjusted gross income in any one year.

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