To Give…or Not to Give

revised on 8.24.2013 due to some major typos!

The Amazing Raise 2013,’s 36-hour giving challenge, is right around the corner from 6am on Wednesday, September 18 through Thursday, September 19! IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT a request to give! 🙂 But, I have already started receiving emails, tweets, FB messages, videos, FB likes and shares, letters and postcards, and more telling me how I should give to different non-profits.

Plea. After. Plea.

One. Right. After. The. Other.

Soon, I will be asked to give at a certain time, possibly at 2am, to help a non-profit win a specific dollar amount. Fun! (insert sarcasm here).

I have a confession…it really makes me want to scream. Really. Loud. But, before you judge…please keep reading!

My primary God-given gift is ‘GIVING’. If you don’t believe me, ask Louis. He will tell you. We’d be broke (LOL) if he didn’t put the brakes to my natural giving tendency. My thoughts…It’s not mine anyway. It’s all on loan to me…to steward on behalf of God; and I really want to be a good steward of what He has given to us. So…how in the world do I decide where to give??? That’s the part that makes me want to SOL (Scream Out Loud). To make it harder, this year…we are on a MUCH tighter budget!

Louis and I are both relational people. So, we really want to give to organizations that our friends are involved in, founded, are board members, etc. As extroverts, we have a TON of ‘friends’. My goodness…we have ‘friends’ poppin’ out the woodwork asking me to give now! SOL

We want to give where our values align. So, what do we value? We want to see sustainable, transformational change. Where God’s kingdom is being built. Where the Gospel is being proclaimed. Where no harm is being done, especially in the “name of Jesus”. Where there’s more than a ‘good story’. Where the community is involved and have a say in what’s happening.

Like many others, Louis and I subscribe to the CCDA Philosophy and really want to support ministries that are doing development work versus mercy ministry. My thoughts and ideas have also been shaped by experts, authors/speakers and books like Beyond Charity by John M. Perkins,  When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton. You can hear a podcast of Bob Lupton talking about Toxic Charity during his visit to RVA >> here.

One might ask, “What’s the difference?”  Simply put in 3 levels…

Level 1 Mercy Ministry = Hand Out. One person gives. Another receives. There is a need for this, but I think it should be used when it is a real emergency…earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc. or when someone really can’t help themselves. examples: Feeding programs. Food banks. Free Markets. Backpacks. Adopt a family at Christmas. Although these ministries make the giver feel good, oftentimes these types of ministries hurt more than they help…causing further enablement, dependency, hoarding, loss of dignity, etc.  Bob Lupton says – “Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) capacity to do for themselves.”   THINK – Give a man a fish.

Level 2 Betterment or Empowerment = Hand Up. Giving is more reciprocal. A small exchange takes place. Definitely a move in the right direction. Becomes a little more time intensive. More commitment is involved. More listening to the community. Examples: Christmas Stores where donated gifts are sold at 20cents on the dollar. Tutoring.  THINK – Teach a person how to fish.

Level 3 Development = Standing Up. This calls for a long-term systemic change and sustainable economic development. This is not an overnight, easy solution. It’s time commitment. Exchange takes place. Doing it with a community not to or for a community. Requires listening to the community and sacrificing your own thoughts and ideas. Examples – Use of lending and investing. Very little grants. Jobs. John Perkins regularly says “The best welfare program is a job.” (see post >> here) Yet according to the cited survey, only 1% of churches do something about jobs. THINK: Teach a person how to own the boat and the pond.

Here’s an example of a sustainable, development concept we LOVE! Maybe one day we will have a LouDawg’s Kitchen afterall…  Whatcha think?

As we approach this time of giving, Louis and I will want to ask ourselves some questions before we give of our time, money or resources. Here’s a few that will get us started, but I’m sure we are missing some….

  • God – where would You have us give?
  • Whose kingdom is being built? God’s or someone else’s?
  • Is it development work or mercy ministry?
  • Is the work being done with a community or for/to a community?

I’m still learning…still struggling…with how to give and serve well.

What other descriptions and examples can you provide of the different levels?

What questions are you asking?