Benevolence is the desire to help someone or a feeling of goodwill toward others. Benevolence can also refer to an act of kindness or charity. Today, many churches maintain a “benevolence fund,” that is, a monetary reserve kept in order to help those in need. Often, a benevolence fund is used to aid families with unexpected or high medical expenses, victims of natural disasters, the unemployed, the underemployed, and others in similar circumstances.
The administration of a benevolence fund is usually appointed to a committee who sees that the monies are distributed fairly and to persons truly in need. Tax codes vary, and this committee should also ensure that those giving to the fund are doing so legally. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has recommendations for Christian organizations that desire to properly establish and administer a benevolence fund per U. S. tax laws.
The call to provide for the needy is found throughout the Bible. In Matthew 25:34–40, Jesus emphasizes the need for benevolence in God’s name. John asks, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17–18). “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and maintaining a benevolence fund is one way to help those who come to the church for aid during difficult times.