Discernment in giving

It isn’t enough just to donate money.  We need to be good stewards of what God gave us and ensure we are donating to trustworthy and effective organizations.  I was encouraged by this article by Kevin DeYoung on Help for the Poor that Really Helps.  The ministries we’ve supported in Kenya, Honduras and elsewhere do these things well.

Note how low fair-trade coffee is relative to other endeavors.  Oh, and note how clicking the “Like” button on Facebook isn’t on the list.

Christians can too easily settle for good intentions. We usually support programs that make us feel good without considering whether they actually do good. We need to be smarter about actually thinking through which poverty strategies are most effective. “To answer this question” Wydick writes, “I polled top development economists who specialize in analyzing development programs. I asked them to rate, from 0 to 10, some of the most common poverty interventions to which ordinary people donate their money, in terms of impact and cost-effectiveness per donated dollar.”

These were the results:

1. Get clean water to rural villages (Rating: 8.3)

2. Fund de-worming treatments for children (Rating: 7.8)

3. Provide mosquito nets (Rating: 7.3)

4. Sponsor a child (Rating: 6.9)

5. Give wood-burning stoves (Rating: 6.0)

6. Give a micro-finance loan (Rating 4.2)

7. Fund reparative surgeries (Rating: 3.9)

8. Donate a farm animal (Rating 3.8)

9. Drink fair-trade coffee (Rating. 1.9)

10. Give a kid a laptop (1.8)

Of course, we want to ensure that these ministries are sharing the Gospel with people as well.  Poor people without Jesus go to Hell just like rich people without Jesus do.

3 thoughts on “Discernment in giving”

  1. Regarding “Get clean water to rural villages (Rating: 8.3)” I would like to mention Living Water International (www.water.cc). It is a Christian organization based in Houston. It does only one thing – drill water wells in Latin American & and Caribbean countries. I personally went with them to Guatemala in the summer of 2008 and found the experience very rewarding. It felt great to actually do something tangible to help people in a Third World country, rather than just telling them about Jesus, shaking my head at the poverty, and then going back to my life in the United States.

    They have teams going down to Central America a couple of times each month I think, and each trip lasts about a week. They operate modern drilling equipment and install a hand operated pump which produces about 7 gal/min. This is sufficient, as villagers will come to the pump each morning and fill a can to obtain their daily requirement of potable water. Some of the women on my team were not strong enough to handle drilling equipment, so they were put to work teaching hygiene to local villagers and entertaining the children instead.

    Obviously you must raise your own support; a team member must raise about $2,000 or so on his or her own in order to participate. This covers transportation, food, and lodging in-country. A portion of the money also helps Living Water maintain its drilling equipment which is stored in-country. Even if you can’t go on a mission, please consider making a contribution. Again, that’s http://www.water.cc.


    1. The $2000 figure (granted that was four years ago; it might be higher now) also includes airfare, easily the lion’s share of the cost. Should have mentioned that.


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