How do I give money in someone’s name?

Have you ever searched for the perfect gift – one that keeps on giving long after the wrapping paper and gift bags have been discarded? Giving a gift in someone’s name is an amazing way to pay tribute to someone you love, and is a special way to give a gift that is more impactful than any physical item could ever be. A donor-advised fund through Christian Community Foundation is a prime example. A donor-advised fund is an amazing gift opportunity that will reap benefits for years to come.

Giving money in someone’s name is a simple process. Our funds are fully customizable, regarding how you would like to name them. A fund can be created in honor of a loved one, as a gift to a friend, as an example of charity for your children, or for any other purpose you see fit.

You might be asking, “Is giving money in someone’s name actually a good gift?” We believe so. When you create a donor-advised fund for someone, you’re not just making a donation in someone’s name. You’re empowering someone to dole out funds to an organization that’s close to his or her heart. It’s more than writing a check, it’s supplying the opportunity to practice generosity.

A charitable act of this magnitude will cause a positive rippling effect throughout the community, far beyond the person you choose to name the fund after. One of our primary goals at the Christian Community Foundation is to help guide our donors in the right direction, so they can be a blessing in our community.

So, if you ever notice yourself struggling to find a way to properly pay your respects to a special person in your life, consider creating a donor-advised fund in their name! Romans 12:10 states, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” There aren’t many better ways to abide by this word of Christ than by using a worthy individual’s name as a vessel to bless others!

 

Do donations through CCF make a difference in Memphis?

Local nonprofit organizations are a driving force in improving the quality of life within our community. It is our duty as citizens to support these organizations, as they are bettering the very place we call home.

Nonprofit organizations assist other businesses in the community to drive economic development, provide greater access to the arts, amplify cultural awareness, ensure citizens receive a quality education, confront our city’s greatest health care challenges, and foster spiritual growth and revival for people in need — they virtually lend a hand to every sector of the community.

Nonprofits act as the arms and legs to our community’s boldest dreams – they turn the belief that our city can be a better place for everyone into action. Supporting local organizations provides us the opportunity to see our communities turn into the place we’ve always envisioned it to be. Last year, our donors gave more than $40 million in grants to local nonprofits through their donor-advised funds. These donations undoubtedly allowed nonprofits to expand their operations and make a bigger impact on their clients and community.

Even if our donors choose to give to worthy nonprofits around the globe (that also need our support), they’re still inadvertently supporting local nonprofits through our Hope for Memphis Fund! The Hope for Memphis Fund is a grant program sponsored by CCF that pours money directly into Christian nonprofits in the Greater Memphis Area.

To support our organization’s operations, CCF charges a small administration fee on each donor-advised fund we manage. These fees cover our operational costs, which we responsibly manage. At the end of each fiscal year, we determine what our surplus funds are, and all of those funds are made available to nonprofits through the Hope For Memphis Fund grant process. The surplus funds have grown year over year, exponentially expanding the impact we can make through Hope for Memphis Fund grants.

The Hope for Memphis Fund is dear to CCF, as it’s a simple way to live our mission. These grants serve as the arms and legs of our efforts to transform our city.

Help us continue to keep the hope alive on this journey to advance our community! Together, we can support development in the city of Memphis and its surrounding areas. Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” So, let’s do our part to turn the ripples into waves by supporting local nonprofits with CCF!

Do I have to be wealthy to give?

What is generosity? Societally, generosity typically is associated with giving away money or objects. In a culture centered around wealth and success, how do you adopt a generous mentality without connecting it to the amount you can give financially?

There are common misconceptions about generosity – the largest is that generosity is defined by monetary value. We tend to measure our generosity by how much money we are able to give and miss other ways to give by doing so. You don’t have to donate a large sum to be considered a generous person. The true power of generosity radiates from the ability to let go of what we value and give back to others.

When you put generosity into practice, the impact you have on the recipient is unparalleled. Generosity toward others encourages generosity from others, and this effect builds over time. You can exercise generosity by taking small steps instead of a great leap, and that’s OK. Try putting aside $10 every month, then at the end of the year, you’ll have $120 to donate to an organization!

You may be wondering, what about future generations? How do you instill the value of generosity in your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren? Here’s where the NexGen Fund comes in. If you already have a donor-advised fund through Christian Community Foundation, you can create a NexGen fund with no minimum donation requirement. It includes solutions for a wide-range of customizable strategies and can be created in the name of someone to encourage charitable giving for the next generation.

Even still, giving a monetary donation, no matter the size, can be challenging. Even if you can’t write a check, there are numerous ways to increase giving and encourage philanthropic efforts. Instead of giving money, think about giving your time or your skills. Join a board or seek volunteer opportunities at churches, hospitals or other local organizations within the city. Generosity knows no bounds.

Are you inspired to give but not sure where to begin? Contact us to start your journey at 901-682-6201!

What is a community foundation?

When you consider charitable giving, there are likely a number of organizations that come to mind. And that is exactly the challenge for many people trying to start a journey toward giving – where do you even start?

Most soon-to-be philanthropists don’t realize that giving doesn’t have to start with an organization; it can start with the gentle prodding that you feel in your heart to be more generous. That prodding can lead you to an organization that can help you strategically plan your giving – a community foundation.

Simply put, a community foundation is a conduit and facilitator of your generosity. They file donations away into donor-advised funds. Think of these funds as a charity piggy bank where you can safely store money until you’re ready to make a charitable contribution. While you’re deciding where you’d like to donate, your community foundation partner is investing your donor-advised fund, and it’s growing tax-free. So, when you’re ready to give, your original donation is larger than it was when you started. That’s a win-win!

What’s the benefit of donating to a community foundation? Well, for starters, community foundations are knowledgeable experts in giving. If you’re unsure of where you’d like to donate but can articulate causes that matter to you, your local community foundation can help connect you to organizations you may choose to support. Community foundations can even connect you with organizations around the country and the globe in response to natural disasters or tragedies. Once you invest in a donor-advised fund, that money is yours to grant to any 501(c)(3) organization.

Community foundations also allow families to create a culture of charitable giving. Many families create funds for their children and grandchildren, allowing them to practice regular giving. When the children are older, they can access their fund and support organizations close to their heart. Partnering with a community foundation is an amazing way to cultivate a heart of giving in your children.

As mentioned earlier, community foundations allow your charitable donations to grow tax-free. While your local community foundation can’t provide tax advice, they can work with your personal accountant or tax manager to create a donation strategy that works best for your family’s financial circumstance. Once your money is invested in a donor-advised fund, it can start to grow.

Christian Community Foundation is proud to be an organization that sponsors giving in Memphis. It’s our goal to power giving, and our greatest joy is granting funds to organizations in and around Memphis that are making a tangible impact on people in our community. When you choose to donate through Christian Community Foundation, you’re investing in Memphis and the nearly 1 million people who call this city home. And we believe that’s a valiant cause.

If you want to start your charitable-giving journey, give us a call. We can help you get started.

How to be more generous

Memphis is no stranger to generosity and giving. In 2017, Business Insider named Memphis the most generous city in the United States, with citizens reportedly giving an average of 5.6 percent of their incomes to charity.

We encourage you to strive to be more generous: with your friends and family, with others, with your community, with yourself. But how?

Committing to monetary donations is an easy way to grow your generosity this year. When finding time to serve is challenging, and deciding where to give seems daunting, Christian Community Foundation is here to facilitate your desire to practice gratitude through generous giving. Creating a donor-advised fund through CCF affords you the opportunity to donate now and determine where you’d like to recommend grant disbursement later. In the meantime, we’ll grow your funds tax-free through wise investments.

If you don’t know where you’d like to give, that’s OK. The beauty of creating and contributing to a donor-advised fund is that your donation counts today as a charitable gift (a tax benefit), but doesn’t have to be distributed until you feel called to grant the funds. This process is perfect if you want to begin a new habit of giving but don’t feel called to support any one organization.

With that being said, if you’re looking for an organization to support now, we can help there as well. Our donors contribute to thousands of 501(c)(3) certified nonprofit organizations annually, each with unique and valuable missions that make our world a better place to live. At CCF, we divide them into three categories:

  • Giving for the Kingdom – giving to organizations whose mission facilitates the building of God’s kingdom.
  • Giving for Common Grace – giving to an organization whose mission provides essential services that positively impact lives and communities.
  • Giving Hope for Memphis – giving to organizations whose work is changing the landscape in Memphis.

Making the decision to give generously is challenging for many, and we recognize that giving requires sacrifice. But as a facilitator of generosity, we know that giving radically changes the lives of those who receive and those who give. We want you to experience the power of giving.

2019 is the perfect time to begin giving back to our city. Interested in learning more about what we do and how you can start giving back? Give us a call at 901-682-6201!

Overcoming A Poverty Mindset In The Church

Have you ever heard…(or said)

I work so hard, but still can’t make ends meet.
If the economy would turn around, I might have a chance.
You don’t understand what it is like to struggle.  It’s the story of my life!
If I ever have any extra, I’ll be the first to give back and live generously.

You nailed it…that’s the poverty mindset.  And it can be both heartbreaking and frustrating to deal with this mindset as you call people to imitate the generous ways of God.  So, what do you do?

For starters, you can search Google.  There are a ton of articles related to the poverty mindset online.  Some of these resources are developed by churches and ministers…others by sociologists and well-intentioned bloggers.  But, let me save you some time.  They pretty much all say the same thing.  The majority of these resources encourage you to nudge people from an “I can’t” mindset to an “I can” attitude.  Sounds good right?

There’s only one problem.  Momentary motivation rarely leads to long term change.

Other ministry blogs will tell you that the poverty mindset is destructive and they point to a variety of cut and paste verses from Proverbs.  They tell you to work hard, be more disciplined and stop making foolish decisions.

But, here’s the problem.  All of these answers address the surface and the temporal.  They don’t get to the root of the issue.  Each of these suggestions buys into the idea that we are defined by what we have and by what we do…not by who we are.

Identifying the real issue

I have never been in a church that is completely absent of the poverty mindset.  It’s almost ridiculous to see this in the U.S., but there are pockets of it in every group of people that gather for worship.  Additionally, there are some church communities that run their organization out of a poverty mindset.  They are always worried about meeting the budget.  They are uptight about last week’s giving and they don’t know how they will get through another strenuous financial year.

So, what do we tell those disciples who think this way?  What do we say to churches which operate in this manner?  Work harder?  Be more disciplined?  Plead more often?

While those answers may be contextually appropriate, they don’t address the real issue.  Here’s the big question: Who are you?

Are you defined by what you have, what you’ve done…or by who you are?  At its core, the poverty mindset is an identity issue.  And it makes perfect sense that

both people and entire church communities would define themselves by the resources in their possession.  Isn’t that what the rest of society does?  Isn’t that the way of the world?  Doesn’t that fit with the business models and consumer mindsets of our day?

But, listen to the resounding theme of Scripture…

  • The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  (Psalm 23:1)
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20)
  • For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

According to the Bible, our identity is not found in what we possess, it is found in who possesses us.  Our lives are hidden in Him and the actions that we take are actions of faith.  We are not identified by our meager possessions, we are identified by our Father–who created, sustains and rules over all things.

Isn’t that the way that Jesus lived?  Even Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:30).  He – our perfect example – said that the only way to find your identity is to lose yourself in the lordship and leadership of the Father.  And no child of the King is poor.

Jesus “had no place to lay his head,” but we would be hard pressed to call Him lacking.  He “had no place to lay his head,” but in spite of that, He called us to join Him in His abundance (John 10:10).  That’s because living on a peasant’s income in ancient Israel didn’t make Him poor.  He was rich in every way as He lived by faith and trusted in the astounding wealth of His Father.

He didn’t have a poverty mindset because His identity was not wrapped up in His (on-hand) possessions.

A story for perspective

A few years ago, a friend made a last minute request that I go to Orlando and attend a conference he was hosting.  I almost laughed at the proposal.  There was no way.  Living paycheck-to-paycheck didn’t provide room for a last minute flight, hotel room, rental car, conference fee and meals.  But days later, I clearly sensed God telling me to go.  So, I crawled out of bed and got on the internet.  I had a small reserve remaining in my bank account and knew that if I used it, our family could potentially run into deep financial trouble.  This was not wise money management.

Through a remarkable series of online events, I was able to book a last minute flight at a deep discount and package it with a hotel rate that was more than fifty percent off.  All told, the trip would cost me about $300.  So, I booked it.

On the last day of the conference, I got a surprise.  No one in Orlando knew my financial situation.  No one knew what the trip would cost me.  But as we sang in worship, a gentleman came up and tapped me on the shoulder.  He told me that someone had been prompted by God to give me a gift.  He wouldn’t tell me who the gift was from, other than to say it was not from either him or my friend that was hosting the conference.

Humbled, I said thank you and slipped the envelope into my pocket.

As the conference closed, I made my way to the rental car and headed for the airport.  When I opened the envelope, there was a wad of $20 bills.  In total, the gift was $300…covering the cost of the entire trip and replacing the meager reserve funds that were left for our family.

That event did not happen because I changed my attitude or mental state.  It did not happen because I tightened up my boots and worked a little harder (I was already working about 60 hours a week at the time).  It happened because I decided to listen to my Father and trust in

my identity as His child.

One note of clarification: Faith is not easy (that’s why it’s called faith).  And I still have moments where I define myself by the resources in my possession.

But, in my healthy moments, I know that my identity is hidden in Christ…not in stuff.

And realizing that identity shift is the key to helping your church members…or your church community…overcome the poverty mindset.  Let me know how this works for you…or simply what you think…in the comments section below.

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Read more from John Richardson by visiting http://www.generouschurch.com/

Practical Tips for Everyday Generosity

The following article was originally published at generouschurch.com.

We need to make something clear at the beginning of this post.  We believe that the practice of generosity helps us become more like Jesus.  It is an imitation of Him.  It is a non-negotiable of being a disciple (one who learns from the ways of Jesus).  That’s the heart of this article.  We want to find ways to practice generosity on a daily basis for the purpose of growing as disciples of Jesus.

Enough clarification.  If you’re still reading, we’re on the same page.  You want to live generously.  You want to help equip others around you to live with an open hand.  So, how can we do that?  For those of us who have trouble remembering to floss our teeth, how can we add anything new to our rigid daily routines?  How can we add something valuable to our lives that will actually stick?  How can we fit daily generosity into the busyness of life?

Idea #1 – Redefine the motives for generosity.  (Hint: it’s about what He’s done for us.)

When our thinking is transformed, our habits will follow suite.  Paul said it pretty well when he said, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Most people determine their acts of generosity by the patterns of this world.  We decide whether or

not to give based on the cultural standards around us.  So, if a natural disaster – like a hurricane – hits the coast and millions of people are negatively impacted, we may fall in line and give toward the relief efforts.  That’s an acceptable form of generosity in our culture.  However, if someone causes a disaster – by texting and driving for example – we don’t send relief funds to help the texting driver who caused the accident.  Our motives are driven by our understanding of right and wrong.  In both of those cases, our giving desires are highly influenced by the “patterns of this world.”  Those motives are shaped by our culture.

And the patterns of this world don’t encourage us to give generously.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  Western culture encourages us to either consume or save.  Not give.  Therefore, we have to transform our thinking in order to become truly generous givers.  We have to renew our minds by something apart from the patterns of this world to inform our giving decisions.

Scripture indicates that the best motives for living generously are the love and grace of God.  God is good for nothing.  I know that sounds irreverent, but hear me out.  God is good to us even when we have nothing good to offer Him in return (He’s good for nothing).  When we understand that He is open-handed toward us and that He gives generously – even when we don’t deserve it – it does something to us.  It transforms our minds and re-wires our motives.  Seeing the love and grace of God expressed through His generosity awakens us to be good for nothing as well.

Idea #2 – Redefine the definition of “wasteful spending.”

Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”

Think about the implications of that verse.  Ray Steadman once said, “The idea expressed here is one of openhanded generosity. Give freely, wisely, and generously to the needs of those about. This phrase, ‘Cast your bread upon the waters,’ was a proverb in Israel for what looked like wasteful expenditure. No one would take good bread and throw it in the river. But here we are enjoined to do that very thing. This is not encouraging us to be spendthrifts, to thoughtlessly and carelessly give away our money, spending it like a drunken sailor. What is meant is, be willing to take a chance where a real need is evident.”

Many of us subconsciously associate giving with wasteful spending.  We see the gift that we gave as a personal loss.  And when we don’t hear astounding reports of how the gift has changed lives, we are tempted to think, “I may have wasted that resource.”

But people who regularly model the generous lifestyle have chosen to redefine “wasteful spending.”  They might define wasteful spending as anything that does not advance the kingdom of God…or any spending that does not benefit my relationship with God.  Either way, the new definition keeps God at the epicenter of life rather than exalting money to that un-natural position.

Idea #3 – Find a generosity partner to share the journey with you.

We were created for community.  And studies consistently show that we are more likely to stick with lifestyle changes when we do them in community.  Chip Ingram’s book, The Genius of Generosity, is built on a story of how this works.  When Chip was a young pastor, there was a man in his church (John Seville) who brought Chip into a secret giving pact.  As Chip and John worked together, they were both strengthened in their commitments to generosity.  A commitment to generosity – in a relational setting – gave them entirely new ways of seeing God’s generosity and propelled them much further into generous living than either man would have experienced on his own.

So, find another person that shares your heart for imitating God’s generosity and press forward into a new lifestyle together.

Idea #4 – Find a way to say “yes” to giving opportunities for an entire day.

Pick a date.  Set aside a small sum of money.  And say yes all day.  Anytime someone tells you of a need and asks for help, say yes.  Make it your goal to say yes to every giving opportunity that comes your way for the entire day.

This idea has been recently promoted by a guy named Sasha Ditcher.  He is the founder of Generosity Day and has spoken

about this idea at a Ted Conference (watch it on YouTube).  But, before Sasha came up with the idea of saying “yes” for an entire day, this thought was promoted by another creative thinker – Jesus.  In Luke 6:30, Jesus makes this radical proposal

– “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

So, not only did Jesus encourage us to say “yes” to all giving opportunities, but He also added that we should graciously allow a thief to keep what he has stolen from us.  He said all of that just before He said these famous words, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

In other words, take the whole “loving your neighbor as yourself” idea seriously.

So, spend an entire day saying “yes.”  If it doesn’t do anything else for you, it will burn in your eternal consciousness the importance and value of daily generosity.

What practical tip would you offer to someone who wanted to live generously each day?

The Most Enormous Little Subject In the Bible

Generosity feels like such a small topic.

It feels small in terms of annual preaching and in terms of overall impact on the church. I mean, honestly, it is important for people to give…but is it really important for church leaders to take a long, hard look at generosity? Is there even enough Biblical material on this subject to make it worth a “deep dive?” On the scale of faith topics, this is one that seems gnat-sized. It hangs around just enough to bother us and distract us from things like love, faith, family and the “big” doctrines of faith.

At least, that’s the way it feels.

For some reason, recent scholarship has made us feel like generosity is a take-it-or-leave-it subject for the church. We know that the church needs money to operate, but we don’t really know how generosity impacts our spiritual lives. We know that God calls us to be generous for the good of others (i.e. The Good Samaritan), but we don’t really understand why generosity is good for us…or even if it’s good for us.

So, how important is this topic in Scripture? Does generosity really matter as long as all of the healthy, growing ministries are properly funded?

Here are five reasons that Biblical generosity will stay at the forefront of the church:

1. The kingdom of God is often experienced – or missed – because of generosity.

Remember this – Jesus spoke more about the kingdom than He did about heaven, hell, salvation or almost any other subject. And according to Jesus, the “gate” to the kingdom is often related to money and possessions. For instance, in the Parable of the Sower (a kingdom parable), Jesus says, “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). For other instances, see Matthew 19:16-25, Matthew 6:31-34, Matthew 13:44-46, Luke 19:11-27 or Matthew 25:14-30.

2. The Gospel comes riding on the back of generosity.

John 3:16 captures the Gospel in a sentence and clearly states the vehicle that God chose for the delivery of His good news: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” There is no way to comprehend the Gospel apart from generosity. He gave Himself. He stepped into the mess of humanity as an infant and purposed to trade His eternal inheritance for our place in death. Beyond that, He extends the forgiveness and grace that are necessary for us to receive the Gospel. So, from the onset of the Gospel to its eternal conclusion, it is characterized by generosity.

3. Generosity is one of the primary defining marks of discipleship.

In Luke 6, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:27-30).

Later in that same passage, Jesus explains His reasoning for this radical call to generosity. In verse 35, He says, “Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” In other words, Jesus notes that as we become radically generous, people will perceive that we are pupils and imitators (disciples) of the Most High God.

4. Generosity has been God’s plan from the beginning.

Genesis starts with the words, “In the beginning, God created.” Can we quickly dispel a light-hearted myth? God was not lonely. He did not create because He was lacking in some way. In fact, many scholars agree that He created to share…to give.

He created us in order to share His love and joy with us. In the beginning, God sought opportunities to practice generosity.

5. Generosity characterizes the end of the world (as we know it).

As Scripture comes to a dramatic conclusion in the book of Revelation, God is still giving. The created world is not thrown away in a fit of justified rage, but it is redeemed. It is bought back for our pleasure and for His glory. It is re-created and re-fashioned – not because God needs this, but because we do. Revelation 21 says, “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

That’s a subject of Biblical proportions. And apparently generosity only looks small when we are looking at it through a highly restricted lens.

So, how can you unleash this God-sized subject in your church?

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The above article was originally published at http://www.generouschurch.com/

10 Simple Ways to Become a More Generous Person

[pullquote_left]“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” — John Bunyan[/pullquote_left]

There are very few people who don’t like the idea of generosity. We are indeed a species that loves to help others and confront needs when we see them. Unfortunately, there are also very few people who are content with the level of generosity in their lives. Most people I know wish they were able to give more. And while there are a number of reasons that this may be the case… sometimes the best solution may be the simplest.

To that end, there are a number of simple steps that we can take to make generosity more intentional in our lives. If you have never given away any money or time, this would be a great way to get started (no matter what your current economic situation is). On the other hand, if you are just hoping to raise the level of generosity in your life, you will also find some of these simple steps to be relevant and helpful.

10 Simple Ways to Become a More Generous Person

1. Consider the benefits of generosity. Generous people report being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who don’t give. Generosity produces within us a sense that we are capable of making a difference in the world, that we are actively addressing the needs of those around us, and that we are shaping our community into a healthier one. While generosity is typically seen as the opposite of self-serving, counting the personal benefits is indeed one of the most important steps that we can take in getting started.

2. Embrace gratitude. Make a list of the things in your life for which you are grateful. Your list doesn’t have to be long. It won’t take much time. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a physical list (in your head will be completely sufficient). Sometimes, the most important step you can take to become more generous is to spend more time thinking about what you already possess and less time thinking about what you don’t. Once you start intentionally thinking that way, you may be surprised just how good you already have it… and become more apt to share your life with others.

3. Start really small. If you’ve never given away money, start by giving away $1. If you are embarrassed to give just $1, don’t be. You’ve got nothing to worry about: there are plenty of charities online that allow you to give with your credit card and you’ll never cross paths with the people who record your $1 donation. Of course, the point of this exercise is not to report a $1 tax deduction on your year-end tax return. The point is to get started. If you’ll feel more comfortable giving $5, $10, or $20, start there. But no matter what dollar amount you choose, jump right in with something small. You can afford it… and that little push can help build momentum in your life towards generosity.

4. Give first. When you receive your next paycheck, make your first expense an act of giving. Often times, we wait to see how much we have left over before we determine how much we can give away. The problem is that most of the time after we start spending, there is nothing left over. The habit of spending all of it is too deeply ingrained in our lives. To counteract that cycle, give first.

5. Divert one specific expense. For a set period of time (try 29 days), divert one specific expense to a charity of your choosing. You may choose to bring a lunch to work, ride your bike to work once/week, or give up Starbucks on Mondays (wait, make that Thursday). Calculate the money you’ll save and then redirect it to a specific charity/cause. Whatever you choose, I recommend picking something that would be fun to give up – something unique that you’ll remember. And setting a specific period of time for the experiment should make it completely achievable.

6. Fund a cause based on your passions. There are countless charities/causes that need your support. And some of them are directly in-line with your most compelling passions. What are you most passionate about? Is it the environment, poverty, or religion? Maybe it’s world peace, child nutrition, or animal rights? What about education, civil rights, or clean water? Identify what passions already move you, find a committed organization around that cause, and then joyfully help them in their work.

7. Find a person you believe in. If you find that you are more easily motivated and shaped by the people in your life rather than organizations/causes, use that tendency as motivation instead. Take careful notice of the people in your life that you most admire. What organizations/causes do they hold most dear? Who do they support? What makes them passionate about supporting it? And how can you get involved alongside them?

8. Spend time with people in need. One of the most effective antidotes for non-generosity is to make space in your life for those who actually need your help. After all, it is a very small step to go from knowing somebody in need to helping somebody in need. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to volunteer one meal at your local homeless shelter. Most homeless shelters readily accept volunteers and have systems in place to get you started. And rubbing shoulders with the poor just may change your impression of them forever.

9. Spend time with a generous person. One of the most life-changing conversations I’ve ever had about generosity occurred when I found the courage to start asking specific questions of the right person. I remember starting with, “Have you always been generous?” And immediately followed with more: “When did you become so generous? How did it start? How do you decide where your money goes? What advice would you give someone who wants to get started?” It was life-changing. And the other guy paid for the meal… go figure.

10. Live a more minimalist life. Intentionally decide to own less. Oh sure, living a minimalist life won’t automatically make you a more generous person, but it will provide the space necessary to make it possible. You’ll spend less money on things at the department store. You’ll have more time/energy to help others. And the intentionality that emerges in your life will help you discover the need for generosity. Minimalism has resulted in many positive changes in my life – becoming more generous has been one of the most important.

Generosity rarely happens by chance. Instead, it is an intentional decision that we make in our lives. But it does not need to be as difficult as many people think. Sometimes, starting with the simple steps is the best step that we can take.

What simple steps have you incorporated into your life to foster generosity?

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The full article was first published by Joshua Decker at http://www.becomingminimalist.com/10-simple-ways-to-become-a-more-generous-person/

How Much Would I Give Away If…

Let me ask you a provocative question, “How much would you give if you knew Jesus was coming back this time next year?” Please know that I don’t have any insider information by asking the question. But this question does open the door for us to honestly evaluate both our hearts and our motives regarding how we are living and giving. What if we could somehow know without a doubt that Jesus was indeed coming back in one more year? Would your level of giving change? This thought-provoking question ought to cause all of us to soberly pause and reflect on our answer. If our answer is, “Yes,” the amount of my giving would be higher; it might be good to ask yourself, “Why?” Why would the amount I would be willing to give over this next year be greater if I knew Jesus was coming back next year instead of twenty years or a hundred years from now?

I have identified three specific motivations for why I think all our giving would go up and most likely go up a lot! Let’s consider these three motivations.

Motivation #1: “It’s Only a Year”

If there was only one year left before His return, we might be much more willing to make meaningful, personal sacrifices since we now know that it would be only one short year before this world as we know it would come to an end? I think we would all agree that twelve months is a pretty modest amount of time to do without if we knew for sure it would only be for one year.

I know when I work out, I am able to endure much greater physical “torture” because I know that my workout is only going to last for one hour and then I can go back to my non-demanding, sedentary lifestyle. I am willing to incur a good bit of short-term pain to hopefully enjoy a good bit of long-term gain.

If you are like me, you are probably far more willing to give something up for Lent (short term) than you are to give it up for life (long term). But what if you knew this life as we now know is only going to last for twelve more months? Would your willingness to part with even “essential” material possessions increase if there was only one year left to do without?

Ask yourself: “Would my giving increase over this next year if I knew with absolute certainty that Jesus was coming back and then the really good times were going to begin?”

Motivation #2: “I’ve Got Nothing to Lose”

Would our giving to the Lord increase because with only one year left, as the old hymn says, “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace?” As the new heavens and the new earth get closer, the grip this current world has on us would likely be loosened and its appeal and attractiveness would be greatly diminished.

Think about the value of a confederate dollar in 1861 (when the Civil War began) compared to the value of that very same dollar in March of 1865 (a month before the war ended), we would all agree that a confederate dollar after the confederacy fell was going to be worthless to whoever held it. So, if a person were to give away all their Confederate dollars just before the end of the confederacy, I think we would all agree, that person was not really making much of a sacrifice. Likewise, as the return of Christ continues to move closer, the “things of earth” will continue to grow more and more worthless because in that new day that is coming, nothing of our material possessions will be considered anything of value.

It is this fact that makes the picture of the streets in heaven being paved with gold so humorous. We take gold that is universally valued here on earth and in heaven God uses it for street pavement. The fact is that what the world values here is worthless there. And conversely, what the world considers worthless here is actually priceless there. Most of us don’t have any trouble giving away what we consider to be worthless – junk.

Ask yourself: “Would my giving increase if I knew what I was giving away was in a very short time going to be worthless?”

Motivation #3: “It’s a Good Deal”

I wonder if we might gladly substantially increase our giving if we realized that “investing” our resources in Kingdom initiatives just makes good financial sense. We could reason that doing so would enable us to enjoy not only a spectacular internal rate of return, but also a spectacular eternal rate of return in just one short year. Then, as we are ushered into the new heavens and the new earth, we will be rewarded handsomely for our sacrificial giving and our “brilliant timing.”

Randy Alcorn reminds of us of the obvious, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” If we knew beyond a doubt that “ahead” would be only one year away (not decades or centuries), might we view the temporary postponement of our current enjoyment of and security in our material stuff a small trade off for the eternal gain that would very shortly be ours.

We have all read Matthew 6:20, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”Jesus commands us to do this “for yourselves.” By knowing the time horizon for actually having our treasures returned to us makes “investing” in the Kingdom for ourselves all the more compelling. I think the appeal of a fantastic and guaranteed return on investment for almost all of us might be just too great to ignore.

Ask yourself: “Would my giving go up if I knew I was going to personally receive back a spectacular return on my Kingdom giving in just one year?

Isn’t it interesting how something changes in how we value our lives and our possessions when we use a shorter timeline? The world and our relationship to all our stuff are viewed quite differently. Life’s real priorities quickly surface out of the clutter of our over-busy lives. Every single area of our lives will be quickly reshuffled and our life priorities reordered when the timeline is shortened. And what could be most unsettling about this list of newly identified life priorities is that they seldom include what currently consumes much of our daily lives.

In life, the tyranny of the urgent is constantly seeking to override the priority of the important. We seem to routinely make time for and overvalue what is really quite trivial and unimportant – often because we mistakenly believe that there will always be time for getting to the “big stuff” later. But, what if there was no “later”? What if there was only twelve months left?

If we only had one more year for Kingdom impact; only one more year to get the message that God has entrusted to us, His stewards, out; only one more year to give to make it happen; would we be living and giving differently than we are right now? I think so. And it might be a very valuable spiritual, mental and emotional exercise to take some time to recalibrate and realign our priorities to focus on an eternal mission and not just a temporal one. Shorten your timeline and watch how it sharpens your focus.

We all need to plan like we are going to live forever and live like there is no tomorrow. If we choose to start living by this mantra, we will find some truly amazing changes in our lives starting to occur. Changes that may resemble a lot like how Jesus lived when He was here.

Obviously, no one knows if Jesus is going to actually come back next year. But I think we will all agree that regardless of when He actually does finally return, within the context of eternity, He will be coming back as the old gospel song says, “soon and very soon.” Are you ready to step up and start living and start giving like you really believe it?

Download PDF:  How Much Would you Give Away . . .

© 2012 Stewardship Ministries | All Rights Reserved.

E. G. “Jay” Link is the President of Stewardship Ministriesa teaching, training, mentoring and content ministry working with churches and nonprofit leaders to equip them with the biblical knowledge and training resources needed to serve all ages and all economic levels of believers to effectively live their lives as good and faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to them. He is the author of three books, “Spiritual Thoughts on Material Things: Thirty Days of Food for Thought,” “To Whom Much is Given: Navigating http://www.viagrabelgiquefr.com/ the Ten Life Dilemmas Affluent Christians Face” and “Family Wealth Counseling: Getting to the Heart of the Matter.”

Mr. Link may be reached via email at jlink@stewardshipministries.org