A tithe, generally 10% of a dollar amount or other resource is traditionally paid as a contribution to a religious organization. That tradition now guides charitable donations for Assemblies of God Credit Union ($145M, Springfield, MO).
Although the 17,000-member credit union frequently made donations in previous years, AGCU developed a tithe-like official standard in 2013. Each year since, the credit union has donated 10% of its earnings to three causes: education, church planting, and humanitarian efforts. Traditionally, each of these areas receives about 30% of the total while the remainder is donated in various other areas.
“All of our members have some desire to make a difference in the world,” says Paul Ebisch, chief executive of the Missouri-based credit union. “We felt that as the credit union we wanted to be committed in the same way.”
In 2013, AGCU donated $114,000, broken down into component parts in the chart above. ASGU gave $36,750 to education, the majority of which went to Assemblies of God affiliated schools and individual member scholarships. The credit union also gave $35,000 in start up costs to church planting. According to Ebisch, the church — considered the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, with missionaries in more than 212 countries — wants to plant up to 500 churches each year in the United States. Church planting funds go to cover the cost of rent and help the credit union establish relationships with eligible potential new members.
For humanitarian relief, AGCU gave $29,861 in relief for natural disasters and in support of local homeless shelters and missions. One such relief effort was the 2013 Moore, OK, tornado that killed 24 people and caused an estimated $3.5 billion in damage. AGCU donated $15,000 in relief, primarily through a social media initiative that CUNA recognized with the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility award. It will receive the award at the 2015 Governmental Affairs Conference.
“When we give $100,000, or whatever it is, the net benefit is much larger,” Ebisch says. “Our motto is that our membership changes the world. They change the world [themselves] but we will also use funds to go out and change the world in some way.”
AGCU donated $80,000 in 2014 due to lower revenue, but rebounded strong and anticipates donating $120,000 in 2015, though the final amount will be finalized during its annual meeting in April. The slideshow below shows how AGCU uses its tithing to make a difference:
Images courtesy of Assemblies of God