Charitable Giving [How and Why]

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There are tons of articles about saving money written by those of us who do financial posts.  We often write about paying off debt.  We definitely write about doing a budget.  We don’t often discuss what I believe is a crucial part of any financial plan: planned giving.  It may seem very backwards to give away some of your money in order to thrive financially.  You may even think I have just completely lost my mind.  I encourage you to bear with me and hear me out.

Why should we give?

The first question that needs to be addressed is why give money.

When my wife Mandy and I were first married we were giving to our church, but without any plan or structure.  We would throw in a dollar (or five) when the basket went by.  There was no thought about it or planning ahead of time.  It’s like we were surprised everytime the collection basket came by.

A year or so into our marriage, we were challenged by a guest mission at our church to start tithing.  It caused us to really take a look at ourselves and we knew we should give.  We also wanted to understand why we should give.  Through various sources, we came to learn what the Bible had to say about giving our treasure.

Let’s take a look at the following verses for the answer:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27

Combining these verses shows us exactly why we’re called to give!  If we were made in God’s image, we’re made to be just like Him.  He is a giver.  He gave the life of His one and only Son for us.  Now, that is giving. Taking these concepts into consideration we can see how we are most happy and fulfilled when we are more like Him and we’re more like Him when we give.

How should we give?

The second question that needs to be addressed is how to give money.

What does the Bible have to say about how we’re to give?  First, it says to give “first fruits”.  What that means is right off the top.  Give first, then do the rest of your budget.  Mandy and I used to pay all of our bills, then see if we had enough to give.  We realized that we were totally looking at it backwards.  Now we place giving on the top line of our budget form, and I encourage my clients to do the same.

Many people give 10% of their income.  So, if you make $4,000 per month, your giving for the month would be $400.  I know for us it was pretty scary to think about giving a full 10% or our income – that’s alot of money – but we’ve been doing it for a long time now and have been so blessed because of it.

Matt’s note: Betsy and I have a strong testimony for our giving, please read it to draw additional encouragement to give consistently.

Mandy and I realize now that giving is a sign of trust that God will provide, regardless of your situation.  In the past we would often tell people that we trusted God, but putting it into practice was a much harder step of faith.  We have seen many blessings since we started tithing almost eight years ago.  The best blessing of all is that the practice of giving is constantly drawing us closer to God.  That makes us each a better spouse, parent, friend, and overall person.

I would love to hear your stories about giving, please share them below.

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1 Arthur Sido

There is another question, the question of “Where” to give. Many Christians assume that we should give to the local church to fund its operations but in the Bible Christians gave to meet the material needs of other Christians as well as others in need. When you are looking at the “Where” of giving it is important to look into where those funds go.

2 Matt Jabs

Love the thoughtfulness and wisdom in this comment Arthur, me and Betsy have discussed this many times ourselves and have actually redirected some of our giving toward direct needs over the last few years… and we always feel much more blessed to make such an immediate and important effect.

3 Mike Young

Great point Arthur! I recommend asking your particular church. My church recommends 8% to the church (who does take care of others as part of its ministry), 1% to the diocese, and 1% to outside charities. Not only that, if you feel called, you can certainly give to outside charities as well above and beyond the 10%. I just don’t recommend that if you are in the process of getting out of debt.

4 Arthur Sido

Mike

Just curious. What percentage of your local church’s budget goes to maintaining the building and paying the staff versus what goes to benevolence and evangelism?

5 Mike Young

I don’t know right off hand the exact percentages. I do know that a huge part of the budget goes towards a school. We also have a sister church in Haiti that we do a bunch with. We don’t just send them money, we also send a group down there once or twice a year to do a medical mission and help maintain and build things in their village.

6 Pam

I like this article. Giving is extremely important, and it seems that the more you give the more you end up receiving. Being generous with your time and money is essential to living a satisfying life.

7 Mike Young

Thanks Pam! It is amazing the satisfaction that can come from giving!

8 Mike Young

Thanks for the comment Alex. Care to elaborate?

9 Carol@inthetrenches

I recently read the book Radical and it is challenging us all to go to the next level. I can’t recommend it highly enough. We in America are richer than 97% of the world. We all have opportunity to be more generous.

10 Mike Young

Carol: sounds like an interesting book, I’ll have to check it out!

11 Ryan Reger - Business Ideas, Tips, and Strategies

Awesome post, Mike!
There really is nothing like the thrill of giving and being able to help meet the needs of others.

12 Mike Young

I completely agree, it is some serious fun!

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