Jenny and I love to give! Being a pastor places me in a unique position in the community to know thousands of people. When you know many people, you learn of many needs. Since we are involved in some wonderful charities and non-profits, we get to partner with some wonderful people to do awesome things. Of course, we know that we cannot always say “Yes.”
Today, my Facebook feed included links to GoFundMe pages of five different people I know. They were all worthy causes and good people. Jenny and I along with our parents are all generous people. But we cannot give a large donation to everyone. Do you also find it difficult to decide whether or not to give to someone’s social media donation web page?
I’d like to share three questions to ask yourself when contemplating whether or not to give when asked:
1. Does this cause align with my values?
We should not give out of guilt or obligation. We all know that there are thousands upon thousands of needs out there. One question that I ask is if it benefits an organization or event that shares my values. What kind of values? Personally, I am a born again Christian, who is politically conservative, and pro-life. The moral values in my life are based on these solid descriptions of me. My charitable giving flows out of who I am, so causes that align with worldview are the causes I choose to support. If the cause opposes my worldview, then the answer is an automatic “No.” Does this “no” flow out of hate or bigotry? Of course not. Notice that I said “causes” I disagree with, not people I disagree with. If a non-Christian neighbor’s house burns down, will I help them? Yes! Helping them is actually a very Christ-like thing to do. Loving my neighbor as I love myself flows out of my Christianity because that is a teaching of Jesus Christ (Mark 12:29-31).
2. Is this donation good stewardship?
Stewardship is a strange word, isn’t it? The term flows out of the biblical understanding that God is the owner and we are just the managers of what we own. God is the owner and we are just the managers of what we own. Click To Tweet As Creator, the Lord owns everything. He made the universe, not me. The money that I have isn’t really mine- it is His. He is just letting me use it for a while and I am accountable to Him. Why? I’m just the manager. He is the owner. So, when I look at an opportunity to give, I ask myself if it is good stewardship. Would God be pleased with me giving money to this cause? Every dollar counts. Saying “no” is a personal thing because I am personally accountable to God for what He has given me. They answer may be “not today,” because God has another use for that dollar. God may want someone else to fund that cause or He may desire no one to give to it. This is why Jenny and I pray about every large financial decision. If it is good stewardship to give to this cause, then give generously & cheerfully. Make it a priority, by giving when you first get paid, not at the end of the month when money is tight.
3. Can I trust the organization or person?
Trust is difficult to earn once it is broken. As a Christian, I am supposed to forgive, but I am also supposed to be wise. Every dollar is important, so I need to believe that the person I am giving it to has a good reputation, won’t steal the money for other purposes, and will not waste money. Some problems like this are based on the charity’s CEO known for a lavish lifestyle. Other times, I may say “no” because the person knocking on my door has not proven to me that he or she truly represents the organization He or she may be a thief pretending to work with a good organization. Some non-profits are just not run well. They desire to help, but the money may not really help people. The internet is your friend and there are ways to research an organization or person such as Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance(give.org), the American Institute of Philanthropy (charitywatch.org) and GiveWell (givewell.org). Knowing the organization personally will help, too. Become a volunteer. Get to know the people. This will help dispell any rumors or gossip about the organization they may hurt your trust. Donate your time as well.
It is better to give than to receive – Jesus of Nazareth
Finally, let me encourage you to be a generous person and give to those who are in need. Tomorrow, you may be the one who needs help. View yourself as the hands of God. He is on His throne in Heaven and we are His servants doing His work. When someone has a need, the Lord will help that person… usually through another person. Let Him work through you to help other people. Since giving is a priority in our home, Jenny and I are tithers. We give at least 10% of our income. This helps us reach our giving goals. At the end of your life, wouldn’t it be great if you were known to be a generous AND wise person?
P.S. If you are looking for somewhere to donate money, I am currently on the board of three great non-profit groups: Covenant Church, Tennessee International Missions, and Youth Leadership Chattanooga. All three are doing amazing things and all three are totally dependent on donations from me and you.