The Spirituality of Giving: From a Christian Perspective

November 08, 2017

by Melodie Gabriel
“You won’t become poorer – but you will become richer by giving.” (Henri Nouwen)
There are many reasons why people give, but in this blog post, I’d like to show you one perspective.

For most of my career and volunteer experience, I have been working mainly with faith-based organizations, specifically Christian ones. So, I’d like to focus on giving and fundraising from a Christian perspective.

In Canada, almost 50% of 86,000 organizations with registered charity status are places of worship, and 46% of all giving is done within them. That means that a majority of giving in Canada is “religiously-inspired”. (Marina Glogovac via Canadahelps.org)

As well in 2011, a Canadian National Household Survey estimated that 67% of the population are Christians. (Statistics Canada)

You may not work for a Christian charity, but if you work in fundraising, you will most likely meet Christian donors at some point in your career. By developing a better understanding of what motivates Christians (and those of other faiths) to give, you will become a more effective fundraiser in the long run.

If I were to summarize a main reason why Christians give, I would say it comes down to this passage from the Bible: “Love your neighbour.” (Luke 10:27). Jesus lived this out and taught his followers to love others through their actions, so Christians try to follow Jesus’s example.

Stewardship

Over the years, I’ve learned different reasons on why Christians give. One is the concept of “Stewardship”.

This sentence summarizes stewardship well: “As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.” (USCCB)

We are asked to take care of what God has given us, to share the blessings we have received with the less fortunate, and to serve others with love. As the Bible says, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (1 Peter 4:10)

For more on Stewardship, check out the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s webpage.

Time, Talent, Treasure

Another idea I learned within Christian Stewardship is to give of the “3 T’s” – our Time, Talent and Treasure.

I’d like to illustrate this through a real-life example. A couple I know – Joe and Marie – have amazed me many times with their generosity. They truly live out their Christian faith through actions and not just words.

They volunteer their time in many church activities; for example, they prepare and deliver Christmas food baskets to needy families. Marie is an excellent cook, and she uses her talents when they host young people in their home and cooks the most scrumptious meals. From their “treasure”, not only do Joe and Marie give financial donations to charities, but they also help organize a charity garage sale to raise funds for the less fortunate To me, they are a model of Christian giving – as they do it humbly and with love.

The Desire To Give

Another important element in Christian giving is the desire to give. It’s not so much the amount you give, but rather how much of yourself you give with the gift. (Rev. Michael Busch via Canadahelps.org)

A positive attitude in giving is important. “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (Bible – 2 Corinthians 9:7) Admittedly, not everyone does this perfectly, but it is a goal to strive for.

Christian stewardship teaches us that everything we have is a gift from God and we are called to give back to God out of gratitude for the gifts he has given us.

Joe and Marie truly embody this. They put their faith and relationship with God first and everything, including their giving, flows from that. They desire to give back in thanksgiving for all the blessings God has given them, they share what they have with others, and they do it joyfully. Joe and Marie are just one example of how faith motivates giving. There are many other generous people from all kinds of faith traditions. For more insights on “Faith and Giving”, check out Canadahelps.org for an interesting blog series with perspectives from different faiths including Christianity.

The Spirituality Of Fundraising

Now, switching gears a little bit – I’d like to talk about fundraising from a Christian point of view. One great resource is a booklet called “A Spirituality of Fundraising” by well-known Christian spiritual writer Henri Nouwen. It has some excellent insights on Christian fundraising that I will list here below:
  • “Fundraising is a subject we seldom think about from a spiritual perspective.”
  • “Fundraising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry.”
  • “It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission.”
  • “Those who need money and those who can give money meet on the common ground of God’s love.”
  • “You won’t become poorer – but you will become richer by giving.”
I’ll end with the last paragraph from “A Spirituality of Fundraising”. I hope it inspires you as it inspires me. “Fundraising is a very rich and beautiful activity. It is a confident, joyful, and hope-filled expression of ministry. In ministering to each other, each from the riches that he or she possesses, we work together for the full coming of God’s Kingdom.” (Henri Nouwen)


Click here to see this blog as it was originally posted on AFP.
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