This week the SAT-7 Field Staff spent time in two seminars focusing upon "asset-based giving." Both sessions reminded us that "God owns the cattle on a thousand hills." He owns all that we are, have, or ever hope to have.
Randy Veltkamp, President of West Michigan Christian Foundation, led the first seminar, along with VP Jamison Kuiper. Both men explained that most people give to charity out of an approximately 7% cash or liquid portion of their net worth. In other words, we work from our checkbooks. Meanwhile, for most individuals, whether wealthy or not so wealthy, our actual giving capacity is tied up in some 93% non-liquid assets, like property, stocks , or other investments.
While Americans are very generous people, giving some $307.65 billion to charitable causes in 2008, still, on average Americans only gave about 2.5% of their incomes. Their net worth and thus full giving capacity is far higher, so the percentage Americans gave of their actual ability to give is much lower than 2.5%. Christians don't give appreciably more and, thus, don't remotely approach the 10% tithe God commands in his Word. So the story of American generosity is a good news, bad news scenario.
What we need to do as fundraising officers of Christian nonprofits is to help people understand giving spiritually: it's a mind thing, developing a theology of giving; and it's a heart thing, developing an obedience to God's direction and a compassion toward others. Once people understand giving spiritually, they'll give more cheerfully, more often, more faithfully, and usually just plain more.
In a second seminar, Richard Dorsey, Planned Giving Director for The Salvation Army West Michigan and Northern Indiana Division, reviewed several issues, questions, or concerns people raise when they're presented with opportunities to give. People say, "I cannot afford to give more" or "My assets are tied up in real estate, what can I do?" Or "I'm going to sell my house...my business...my stock...my real estate...etc soon." All of these concerns and more are legitimate, but none of them prevent a person from becoming better stewards of the resources God has given them. They just need help seeing what options are available to them, ones that legally and appropriately reduce their tax liabilities while increasing their ability to care for themselves, their heirs, and their favorite charities.
People sometimes look upon fundraising as manipulation, trickery, or strong-arming, sort of a bucketful of ways shysters leverage money from people's pockets. Unfortunately, at one time or another fundraising, or rather fundraisers, have been all these things.
But fundraising rightly understood and implemented is simply a process of placing in front of people opportunities for them to help others by being good stewards of the resources God has entrusted temporarily to them. Helping people grow in their understanding of giving and their capacity to give is helping them to experience the joy of giving while they're living.
Learning to give wisely out of ones total assets, not simply available cash, is a win-win. It's beneficial first to the giver because it preserves assets from undue taxation and moves them toward personal support, family, or charitable causes. And second, it generally means charitable causes, the ones closest to the giver's heart, experience greater support and therefore ability to fulfill their mission.
SAT-7 USA is developing its sophistication in assisting supporters' spiritual well-being and their stewardship. In this we trust God is pleased.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010
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