Tag Archives: Giving

One of the reasons I’m careful about choosing which charities to support

Once you are on their mailing lists, it is hard to get off!

I donated money to a Campus Crusade guy about 15 years ago.  I was the leader of the Christian Employee Network Group at Compaq (and subsequently HP) and we met on several occasions.  But I eventually stopped the support because I wanted to channel it elsewhere.

But I’m still getting updates from him in the mail!

I contacted him twice to have him remove me from his distribution list.  Nothing happened, so I started just throwing them away unread.  We moved in 2003, but he somehow got the new address (I didn’t give it to him).  Then we moved in 2009 and the mail still kept coming.  We moved this year and I just got an update.  Argh!  What a waste of stamps.

This is why I primarily support our local church and then a handful of other carefully-selected charities.  I’d rather give more to fewer organizations than a little to many of them.  I am good at saying “no” to the little requests (grocery store checkout suggestions, general solicitations, etc.).  I treat it like I do my retirement investments:  I want to diversity a bit but not too much, and I want to ensure that my money is going where it can do the most good.

So my advice is to do the same: Give, because giving is fun*, but do so with discernment.

2 Corinthians 9:6–7 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

*Oh, and give because Jesus promised rewards, and He has the most credibility of anyone in the universe to back up his promises.

Matthew 6:19–21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

King David vs. the theological Left

If you ask the government to take from neighbor A by force to transfer to neighbor B, then that is not charity on your part, and certainly not something Jesus taught. He said to give your own money.  Yet the theological Left and its false teachers do this endlessly.

These people, who claim the name of Christ, should follow the example of King David when he was making an offering to the Lord: 1 Chronicles 21:24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

David wouldn’t even take the offerings that were given freely.  He didn’t want to just re-gift something to God.  The theological Left does something far worse than re-gifting: They advocate taking from others by force to “give” in their name.  They are greedy (wanting to keep what they have) and covetous (jealous of what others have), not generous.  Don’t let them fool you, and don’t be a part of it.

Give generously, but give your own money.

2 Corinthians 9:6–7 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

I’m with Bono on this one.

Via Bono: Only Capitalism Can End Poverty.

This is a great day. For years, Bono has been something of a pain, banging on about the need for billions of dollars in Western foreign aid to Africa. I have criticized him for ignoring the real source of African poverty – lack of capitalism – on numerous occasions.

But, unlike many who hate capitalism without reservation, Bono is open to changing his mind. Here is Bono giving capitalism its due recognition during a recent speech at Georgetown University. As the musician put it, when it comes to poverty “free enterprise is a cure.”

Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming.

According to the World Bank, global poverty is declining rapidly. In 1981, 70 percent of people in poor countries lived on less than $2 a day, while 42 percent survived on less than $1 a day. Today, 43 percent live on less than $2 a day, while 14 percent survive on less than $1. “Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history,” wrote Brookings Institution researchers Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz in a recent paper. “Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time.”

Yes, we should still share with the less fortunate — preferably out of our own wallets.  But we must use good discernment with giving to ensure that it isn’t counter-productive.  Know the charities you support and ensure that they are really making a difference and are run efficiently and effectively.  Use good discernment and pray for wisdom!  But don’t forget that making people more self-sufficient may be the greatest gift.

For example, one of the reasons we love and support the AIDS Orphan mission in Kenya is that it doesn’t just cost effectively (literally $10/child/month) feed, clothe and educate these orphans (and the widows who take care of them), it also gives them life skills.  We met many kids who baked bread, sewed, did hair care, planted trees, etc. and made such good livings that they supported themselves and their siblings.  Their joy was contagious.  We feel blessed to be a small part of that and feel confident in giving to the program because we’ve seen it first hand many times and have gotten to know the leaders well over a number of years.

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.

Thoughts on tithing: Something to offend everyone!

money2.jpg

It is stewardship campaign season so I wanted to rerun this post from 2008, which had an interesting comment thread.  I’m also adding this link describing a plan for giving generously.  The four suggestions were simple and excellent.  One that has worked well for us is the Lifestyle Cap:

Lifestyle cap.  As we earn more, we should give more. If you are wealthier than you used to be, have you done more to increase your standard of living or your standard of giving? 

Living below your means — not just within them — is a great place to be.  As you cap your lifestyle in terms of cars, housing, clothes, vacations, etc. you’ll be amazed how much more you have to give and save.

—–

I have mixed views on the Biblical concept of tithing.  On the one hand, I think 10% is a nice, round number and a great amount for people to give.

But I don’t see New Testament support to make it a requirement for Christians, and I see many preachers take Old Testament verses that were just for the Israelites and project them onto the New Testament.  The only NT passage that I am aware of that mentions tithing is Matthew 23:23, and that was to point out the hypocrisy of the listeners (“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”).

Also, 10% was not the upper limit for the Israelites.  My guess is that many of the people reading this could give more than that.  We’re in the richest 2% of people who ever lived, and I think that as a country we’re wasting a huge opportunity to put our wealth towards advancing the Gospel and his kingdom around the world.

Some think they can’t afford to tithe, though God expected the poorest Israelite to give 10%.  If you really want to give 10%, you can find a way.  Think of it this way: If your boss cut your pay 10%, what would you do – die?

And the hypothetical wage cut figure really isn’t 10%, since your contributions are tax deductible.  Roughly speaking, going from 0% giving to 10% would reduce your spending by roughly 8% or less.  And if you are already giving, say, 5%, then it would only impact you by 4% of your income.

Most importantly, I really don’t like to over-emphasize anything that might turn giving into a legalistic enterprise, because that can take the fun out of it.  Giving should be joyful!

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Yet if we really believe what Jesus said and don’t consider this next passage just a sound bite, our giving habits will reach into eternity.  Right after we die I think we’ll have some serious regrets about how we handled our money much of the time, and some serious joy over the good decisions we made.

Matthew 6:19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Is that enough of a contradiction for everyone?  How do you help turn people on to the joys of giving without making it legalistic and burdensome?

Don’t be slaves to the 10% target, but don’t assume you are limited by it, either.  You may be able to give much more.  Are you taking advantage of the opportunity you have in this life to help advance God’s kingdom?

And when you give, give intentionally and give to God first.  Don’t give him what is left over.

P.S. Here’s a good article on why the often-used example of Abraham is not a good justification for requiring tithing.

Ann Coulter on giving

See Scrooge Was a Liberal – Ann Coulter – Townhall Conservative, where Ann does a nice job highlighting some facts about giving.

Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity — $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.

Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in “charities” that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children’s elite private schools.

Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, “are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way.”

Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent.

They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more — and 50 times more to secular charities — than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. (Some of you may also know them as “insufferable blowhards.”) These “bleeding-heart tightwads,” as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys.

Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent, less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also “significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier.” (Count Nancy Pelosi’s change carefully!)

Secular liberals are, however, 90 percent more likely to give sanctimonious Senate speeches demanding the forced redistribution of income. (That’s up 7 percent from last year!)

Needless to say, “religious liberals” made up the smallest group at just 6.4 percent of the population (for more on this, see my book, “Godless”).

A lot of people would like to have your problems. And mine.

A friend was once mentioning some problems with a house he was building, then caught himself and said, “A lot of people would like to have my problems.”  He meant it in a humble “maybe I should stop whining” way.

I often recall that when I start to grumble about things that aren’t that important – such as, hypothetically, a dishwasher that appears to be broken only it turns out it wasn’t but in the mean time you wasted hours trying to buy a new one and cracked the copper tube while investigating it so you had to fix that and spent waaaaay too much time on the whole thing.  Being blessed to have a dishwasher, dishes to put in it, food to put on the dishes, a house to put it all in, and so much more should put me in a constant state of gratitude.

So we should all remember that on most days there are about 6.5 billion people who would love to trade places with us.

P.S. Little known fact: Home builders pour a foundation, then set a dishwasher down, then build the house around it.  At least that’s what it seems like when you go to pull one out.