another working definition is that a religion is a large, recognized group of people who admit spiritual similarity, while a sect is a smaller, more rigidly defined group. Presbyterianism is a sect within protestant christianity, usually referend to as a branch (which has a better connotation), but other small religious groups not not belong to a larger religion. Some other smaller groups, such as mormons and other latterday-saints churches, are so different from their parent faith (christianity) that they are often referred to as sects rather than branches of the christian faith.
As far as money is concerned, it depends on where you go. Most religious organizations (community churches) are meant to be self-supporting, and not demanding, and many ofther programs such as AA and other programs follow the collection plate method. Most religions and groups are concerned with humility and the rejection of excess, and the church as well as support groups provides many people with what they see as a trustworthy cause to give their excess to. You are free to attend and give as you please.
Cults on the other hand often demand participation and giving. Think of a cult as boy scouts, a labor union, soviet russia, and british colonial policies rolled into one big stinking pile.
PS i heard that scientology and latterday-saints churches was banned in france; i know it is at least banned in morocco