Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Applying a gift to benefit the giver


Two and a half years ago I had medical issues that caused a financial setback to me and my family. Up until then, we had always been good givers to our church.  Since then, our church has, on 3 occasions, one being just recently, gifted us some money.  At the time my medical journey began, we had not completely fulfilled a monetary pledge to our church, nor have we been able to apply any funds to reduce it since I became ill.  With this recent money gift, we are wondering if it would be rude to thank the elders for the gift and let them know we are using it to pay down our pledge.  Or would it be better to just return the check to them since we feel there are others in the congregation who would benefit more from the funds.
Thanks in advance for your reply.

Dear Bill,
  I am sorry to learn of your health issues. I know that it can cause a ripple effect into
every other area of your life to have those expenses.  

  Please do not use the gift to pay toward the amount that you pledged to the church. The
best thing to do would be to return the check with your sincerest thanks. You may not be
fully back on your feet financially,but as you say,there are other people within your church
family that may need the money more.

  To return the check,even in another form is asking them to forgive an obligation that you
undertook willingly,albeit in better times. I assume that you still wish to honor that pledge.
If it something you wish to address in the letter as you return the check,please do. By simply
stating that you have not forgotten your promise,it will give you a great deal of peace of mind. The committee that oversees the fund likely isn't worried about it or focused on it in the least. But this is a great opening for you to bring it up,even if you can't give specific details.  

         Best regards,
         Amanda Gamble  

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Amanda Gamble


I will answer any etiquette question you`d care to ask! I will be happy to give friendly non-judgmental advice on any situation. Certain cultures and religions that outside of my personal scope of knowledge but I usually know whom to ask when I have a question. Time specific questions may or may not get answered by your deadline.


I have been writing a daily etiquette advice column for 12 years. I have taught as well as given lectures on the subject.

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