Christian Stewardship Services (CSS), a planned-giving charitable organization in Canada, is celebrating 40 years of realizing its mission—“assisting Christians in planning, giving, and managing their God-given resources to accomplish his work.”
While known mostly for its work in estate planning, CSS has also provided mortgages for building projects to Christian schools and Christian Reformed Churches.
The charitable organization was founded in 1976 as an independent nonprofit to provide services to a core group of Christian Reformed Church agencies and affiliated charities in the areas of planned giving and estate planning.
“We initially began as a planned giving organization,” said current executive director Maynard Wiersma. “We primarily did [estate planning] visits with supporters, encouraging them to put bequests into their last will and testament . . . and that’s what we’re known for the most.”
Over the years, the organization has grown both in size and scope. The initial group of 10 to 12 supporting charities has expanded to include two types of partnering organizations: more than 40 full partners and more than 100 associate partner Christian schools.
CSS now offers a revocable deposit agreement, a “Christian GIC,” where the donor deposits money for a time. CSS manages the funds, currently a little more than $55 million dollars, which are then lent to Christian organizations in the form of mortgages.
Wiersma said the organization is unique in Canada, with no single other group providing all of the types of services CSS provides. Across the border in the U.S., the Barnabas Foundation is very similar to CSS.
“The reason we’re necessary is that most financial advisors do not specialize in charitable giving: what the tax implications are, how it can be done, all the nuances. That’s where CSS comes in,” Wiersma said. “We can help. Whether it’s a person of lesser means or a person of very wealthy means, we walk with them through that planning stage to see what they might want to do to further God’s kingdom.”