Recovering generosity when giving feels stale

Patterns, habits and rituals can be soothing and centering. In our faith practices, many of these rituals help us focus and quiet our busy minds. From daily time allotted for prayer to communion liturgies, repetitive actions can be great reminders of what’s most important. Through these habits, we develop discipline and reverence for the practice.

But sometimes repetition can make things feel stale or even uninspiring. We’ve all asked our spouse, “Can we please try somewhere new?” when trying to decide where to eat on a Friday night. If we’re not careful, doing things repetitively can cause us to lose sight of their inherent purpose or value. In this example, going out on a Friday night isn’t really about the food – it’s about spending time with your loved ones. But in our quest for something new and exciting, we’ve lost our focus. 

It’s easy for giving to become passive and stale, especially when all of our financial decisions are carefully planned in advance. With recurring online giving, you may not even realize that your tithe goes out each month, or that you’ve been faithfully donating to a nonprofit you love for the last five years. Simply, it is incredibly easy to lose the joy of giving. 

How can you recapture that joy if your giving has become blasé? At the Christian Community Foundation, we believe that you can simultaneously be a strategic AND joyful giver. Here are recommendations we hope will help you recover the joy of generosity. 

Regularly review your giving portfolio

When was the last time you reviewed your charitable gifts? It’s so easy to give month after month without really understanding where your gifts are going. When you log into your donor-advised fund account through Donor Central, you can see where your grant requests are going and how frequently they are disbursed. Taking a more active role – maybe even pausing recurring gifts and instead setting a family meeting to choose your gifts each month – can make your giving experience much more active.  

Extend your idea of generosity beyond financial gifts

In addition to regular donations from your donor-advised fund, are you praying for the organizations you support regularly? Add them to your family’s prayer list and talk about the work that they do actively. Seek opportunities to volunteer, send letters of encouragement to their staffs or simply find ways to engage with these organizations on social media. Open and read their annual report when it arrives in your mailbox each February, and see the impact that your donation had on the community. By giving of your time, prayer and efforts, you can add context to your giving that may have been missing previously. 

Engage your loved ones

Want to support nonprofits and set an example for your loved ones? Involve friends and family in your giving! Set aside money each month that you want to disburse from your donor-advised fund, but don’t designate it for any specific organization. Instead, each month connect with a family member or loved one and ask them what nonprofit organization is near to their heart. Then, make a donation from your fund in their honor. This warms the hearts of the people you care about while also expanding your giving horizons. You may learn about new organizations you’ve never heard of before!

How to build your stewardship philosophy

If you’ve read our previous blog posts, you know that the Christian Community Foundation is built upon Biblical Stewardship. Simply put, we believe that all of our resources on Earth belong to God, and that He has entrusted them to us with a responsibility to use them in ways that furthers His Kingdom.

If you grasp that concept, that’s step one! But how exactly do you know what efforts here are furthering God’s Kingdom? And once you make that determination, how do you decide where to invest your resources? There are seemingly innumerable churches, ministries and nonprofits operating around the globe. Choosing where you should give can seem overwhelming. 

When we have too many options, we struggle to make a decision. In our quest to give with a gracious heart, agonizing over where to give can transform our giving from joyfilled to stressful. That’s where a personal stewardship philosophy comes in. 

To CCF, a personal or family stewardship philosophy helps guide your giving efforts. It’s the framework that you use to determine the organizations and missions you support. It could refine your giving to focus on organizations that support children’s causes, or organizations practicing global missions. Every family or person’s stewardship philosophy can be unique and varied! Don’t think of your stewardship philosophy as limiting parameters, but rather a pair of contact lenses that helps you focus and make decisive giving decisions. 

How do you develop your stewardship philosophy? This can be a fun and enlightening process for every giver! We have a few recommendations to help you get started. 

Start in prayer and worship

Creating a stewardship philosophy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, careful consideration, reflection and prayer. Whether you’re creating a personal philosophy or a guiding path for your family, spend time in prayer and worship as you consider ways you can make an impact for God through giving. 

Explore your passions

We believe that God gives each of us unique gifts and interests. Whether your family loves sports, wants to feed the hungry, believes in the healing power of art or desires to care for the world’s orphans, you can use those passions to find organizations that share your heart. Incorporating our natural interests into our stewardship philosophy can be incredibly impactful and inspire more giving! 

Connect with trusted givers

We encourage every member of our family of givers to actively research and engage with organizations they support. But knowing where to start can be a challenge. Seek out the guidance of trusted people in your faith community. Talk with them about their giving – they can oftentimes offer a list of organizations or ministries they’re passionate about! Even if your philosophy leads you in a different direction, you’re learning more about the opportunities that exist. 

Consider volunteering

If you’re having trouble defining your giving philosophy, consider volunteering. Oftentimes, when we can see and use our hands to support organizations, we better understand the work that they do. This may help provide clarity and understanding that could refine your stewardship philosophy! And, you don’t have to stop volunteering once you decide to give – we strongly encourage our family of givers to give not only financially, but also of their time and talents! 

A look at giving as a fruit of thankfulness

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.”

– Galatians 5:22-25

 

November is a month of thankfulness, a time to be grateful for all we have and those we love. As we enter into this season, I want to take a moment to discuss one way to demonstrate gratitude. Let’s explore how to use giving as a fruit of thankfulness.

One of CCF’s core pillars is Biblical stewardship, which is using the resources God entrusted to us to further His work on Earth. When we apply this concept to our lives, it leads us toward generous and thoughtful giving. We know that God owns everything and is responsible for our Earthly blessings. It’s up to us to use the gifts He has bestowed upon us to further His kingdom. By practicing God-inspired giving, you’re making an impact that will transform Memphis and the world. Giving is a spiritual act of worship, and there’s no better way to show your gratitude than by giving to those who can make the most difference!

During this time, it’s also important to remember why we give. We give because God has blessed us – we’ve received what we need and can use our excess to bless others and our community. It is our Christian duty to glorify God in all we do, including our financial obligations. We are charged to love one another – giving back is just one way of many ways to spread our love!

When we give strategically, we are maximizing the return on our God-given blessings. Ask yourself, “Where can I give that will be the greatest investment of my resources for maximum impact?” By giving, and being vocal about your generosity, you’re setting an example for generations to come.

Need help getting started on your strategic giving journey? Give us a call at 901-682-6201.

Frequently asked questions from donors and friends of CCF

Are you new to CCF? Or maybe you’ve partnered with us for so long that the fine details are fuzzy. Either way, you may have questions! We’ve compiled a list of FAQs to help and guide you. As always, please feel free to contact our office directly by calling 901-682-6201 if your question isn’t answered here or if you need additional information.

What is the minimum amount needed to create a donor-advised fund?

To open a noninvested donor-advised fund, the initial tax-deductible gift must be $2,500 or more. To establish an invested fund, the minimum gift is $10,000.

What is an invested fund?

With a balance of more than $10,000 or more, a donor can change to invest their fund.  CCF will charge its customary administrative fees based on the prevailing schedule for such fees (which is subject to revision or amendment per requirement). Please see the donor-advised fund agreement for schedule details.

What are the administrative expenses for an invested donor-advised fund?

Administrative fees vary based on account balances. Please see number 6 on the donor-advised fund agreement for fee structure details. 

Fees charged on invested funds are generally more than offset by the income and capital gains that are earned and retained by the fund. In addition, since July 1, 2006, fees earned by Christian Community Foundation are given away to ministries making a difference in Memphis through our Hope for Memphis Fund. The Hope for Memphis Fund allows donors to give twice: once through your fund and once through the Hope for Memphis Fund.

How do I make a grant recommendation from my fund?

All grant recommendations must be properly documented according to IRS standards. These can be easily made online at Donor Central. Please call our office at 901-682-6201 if you need assistance.

What organizations are eligible to receive grants?

Any United States-based agency that is a recognized 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code may receive a grant from a Christian Community Foundation donor-advised fund. However, all grant requests are reviewed and approved by the grant review committee of the Christian Community Foundation board of directors.

Organizations openly antithetical to Christian beliefs will not be approved. Grants cannot be awarded to individuals. Donors also may not receive tangible benefits from a grant. These include items such as tuition, meals, concert tickets and museum membership benefits.

What is the minimum grant I may recommend?

We request a minimum grant recommendation of $50.

What is the fee charged for recommending grants?

No fees are charged for recommending grants.

How often can I add to my fund?

You can add to your fund at any time with a gift of any amount.

Can I give assets other than cash to my fund?

You can give stock, mutual funds, retirement fund assets, real estate and/or other tangible property.

Can I remain anonymous when establishing a fund or recommending grants?

Yes, advisors can request that grants be awarded anonymously. You can also choose a name for your fund other than your name or your family’s name.

How often will I receive a statement?

Statements are uploaded to Donor Central quarterly, usually a week before the end of the following month.

How can I determine the balance in my fund?

Your fund’s balance can be determined by accessing Donor Central. If you have any issues, please call or email us.

What is the Hope for Memphis Fund?

The Hope for Memphis Fund was established by the Christian Community Foundation in 2006 to invest strategically in Christian organizations seeking city transformation spiritually, academically, economically and relationally.

The Hope for Memphis Fund issues grants from the surplus and earnings of the Christian Community Foundation and from donations made to the Fund. Grant recipients are Christian ministries primarily serving the economically disadvantaged residents of Memphis and the Mid-South region. A primary focus of the Fund is to make grants that improve effectiveness and build capacity of existing ministries. 

The Hope for Memphis Fund committee considers grant applications twice a year based on the designated time frame related to each cycle.

What are the tax advantages of establishing a fund at CCF?

Donors who contribute stock and other appreciated assets are eligible for tax deductions and may reduce or eliminate liability for capital gains taxes. It is also useful to take charitable deductions in years of high income but make grant requests in years of lower income or retirement. Donors are strongly advised to consult with their tax advisors when making these decisions.

Donors may wish to make larger contributions to their fund in high income years prior to retirement. This allows donors to take maximum advantage of tax deductions during their highest income earning years and have it invested tax-free, allowing them to give during retirement when their income is reduced.

There are also many ways a charitable fund can help a donor reduce estate taxes, preserve retirement assets for family members and provide gifts for charity. CCF’s professional staff works closely with attorneys, accountants and other advisors to help donors make the best choices for their families.

What are the advantages of establishing a fund at CCF versus a private foundation?

Since CCF is a public charity, there are fewer Internal Revenue restrictions for gifts and grants compared to a private foundation. Generally, donors receive a higher tax deduction for contributions. Additionally, donor-advised funds are not subject to excise taxes and have no payout requirement. An alternative to creating a donor-advised fund is establishing a supporting organization at the Foundation. Supporting organizations offer the advantages of a donor-advised fund but are governed more like a private foundation.

What is CCF’s privacy policy?

At CCF, we are committed to protecting individual privacy and will not share personal information with outside parties. 

We limit access of personal information to only those who need to know in order to produce compliance reporting, service your account and provide you with a broad range of services and products. Our employees, representatives and agents are required to maintain and protect the confidentiality of your personal information and must follow established privacy procedures. Donor names or amounts of donations are not revealed to the board of directors of the Foundation. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to protect your personal information.

We strive to keep our donor and agency records complete and accurate. We will give you reasonable access to the information we have about you. Most of this information is contained in account statements you receive from us and applications you submit to obtain our services. We encourage you to review this information and notify us if you believe any information should be corrected or updated.

Sharing your giving journey.

When preparing for a dinner party or outing, there are three “taboo” topics: faith, finances and the federal government. As a Christian organization whose mission is to drive impactful giving in our community, we wholeheartedly disagree with the first two. If we’re not sharing our faith and the importance of giving, how will we create meaningful change that honors God?

While we think faith and money are acceptable conversion topics among friends, we do believe that there are ways to sponsor and direct such conversations that make them more palatable and comfortable for everyone involved. People are much more likely to take an action when a friend recommends it, and starting a conversation about giving could start the stirrings in their heart that will eventually kick off their journey into philanthropy. But how do you start this conversation? We’ll break down three helpful tips to make talking about giving easier.

Share your personal journey.

Giving is a personal process, and the experience is uniquely meaningful to each person. If you want to sponsor a conversation about philanthropy, start by sharing your own journey. What caused you to seek out ways to be more generous? How did you get started in the process, and what did you learn along the way? Focus on the condition of your heart and how it has changed or evolved as you practiced Biblical Stewardship. Be honest and open – you can quickly go from sharing your heart to bragging about your generosity.

Don’t talk dollars.

Giving is ultimately about personal sacrifice, and the amount of money you give away is irrelevant to a conversation about giving. The number affixed to a check doesn’t sway others to give, and it might intimidate them and keep them from giving in the first place. Even statements like, “Giving only $20…” could plant the wrong idea in someone’s head. Steer away from mentioning dollar figures at all. Instead, talk about the Bible’s model for philanthropy. Giving should be sacrificial, joyful and generous. That looks different for every giver.

Talk about the outcomes, not the output.

We already said you shouldn’t talk about dollars, but we also recommend staying away from the details of your donation frequency and setup unless you’re specifically asked. Instead, talk about the organizations you support and the programming they’re able to offer because of faithful donors. When you focus on the way God uses donations to further his Kingdom, the impact of philanthropy becomes visible and real for people. If you don’t know the impact your donations have on organizations, reach out to their fundraising coordinator and sign up for their email newsletter! Many nonprofit organizations share compelling updates and stories with their donors if you simply ask.

It’s our hope that you feel more confident in your ability to talk about giving with your friends and loved ones. Know that these conversations don’t lead to action overnight, but even planting the idea can make room for God to move in their hearts and lives. You merely have to start the discussion!

Taking a Biblical approach to giving

No matter your personal beliefs or reasons for giving, the Christian Community Foundation is here to support you. But our foundation is rooted in the concept of Biblical Stewardship – and this guides our decisions, recommendations and principles as a foundation. 

What is Biblical stewardship?

Before we can explain Biblical stewardship, we must start by defining stewardship. A steward is a person who manages properties or materials owned by someone else, and stewardship is the management of said assets. If someone asks you to watch their dog while they are on vacation, you are stewarding the dog until the owner returns. 

Now, what is Biblical Stewardship? Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” Deuteronomy 10:14 further proclaims, “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” We believe that sets a precedent. Everything on Earth is God-breathed and owned by Him. We apply that directly to our lives – believing that any assets, properties or possessions we acquire on Earth are a gift from God for us to manage in a way that honors him. 

When you apply Biblical stewardship to finances, we have clear directives from Jesus throughout the New Testament. Jesus calls for his people to give generously, sacrificially and joyfully according to the resources we’ve been given. We believe that Biblical Stewardship is a mandate, not a choice. When we give of our possessions, talents and resources and invest them in people, ministries and organizations furthering the Gospel, we are investing God’s resources into His work. This is Kingdom-minded giving. 

How can I get there?

Giving generously, sacrificially and joyfully can be challenging. Applying two of the three concepts would be much easier, certainly! It goes against our human nature to give away more than we might feel comfortable giving. 

To help shift your mindset toward Biblical Stewardship, start by praying. Thank God for the resources He’s entrusted to you. You can pray for opportunities to invest your resources in causes that further his Kingdom. Keep an ear out for opportunities as they present themselves. 

Relationally, talk with generous people in your life, especially those that share your faith. Ask questions about their giving journey, and seek mentorship advice on how to become a generous, sacrificial and joyful giver. The greatest thing about joyful giving is that it is contagious. A conversation with a mentor might be the boost you need to start your giving journey. 

Practically, investing money in a donor-advised fund is an excellent way to reserve funds for giving. When you invest in a donor-advised fund, that money must be given to a philanthropic organization and cannot be withdrawn for any other reason. Even if you don’t have a cause or organization on your heart right now, you can still invest resources sacrificially, generously and joyfully into your donor-advised fund and then request a grant when your heart is touched. 

 

Generosity during retirement

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

How old were you when the seeds of giving were sowed in your life? The first memory I have of giving was around age 4 when my grandmother would give me a dollar to put in the offering plate on Sunday morning. I remember feeling so proud that I was able to give, even though the money wasn’t mine. It was only given to me to give away.

What if we continued to apply the same principle throughout our life, even into retirement?

Retirement is the time when you leave the workforce to begin a different chapter of life. Some may travel, spend more time at home or buy a condo. While many families enjoy the transition into retirement and the fruits of their savings, there can be a sense of fear or anxiety associated with a loss of regular income. This can lead to decreased giving, which can have a negative effect on your general life output. If you were charitable during your working years, you should be able to continue that generosity until the end of your days!

At the Christian Community Foundation, we recommend several strategies to help people continue giving into retirement. First, we recommend that all of our givers reserve approximately 10% of the donor-advised funds annually. These funds can then be utilized when you reach retirement age and have fewer assets to contribute to your fund. The earlier you start this process, the more you’ll have to dive into during your years outside of the workforce.

Another popular strategy for retired givers is transferring non-cash assets to your donor-advised fund. Through this process, CCF has your non-cash assets appraised and then sold, and the profits from the sale are added to your DAF. If you have property, intellectual property, antiques or other items you don’t need to hold on to, this is a great option to pursue.

Why should you continue to give when you’re in retirement? Did you know that there are health benefits from giving? For example, charitable giving has been linked to boosting self-esteem and life satisfaction, lowering the risk of depression, bettering physical health and prolonging life expectancy. At CCF, we believe that all of the assets we have on this earth are simply borrowed from God. While we want to pass on items to our family and loved ones, we ultimately can’t take anything with us.

If you are a retiree, soon to be, or even in the early years of your professional life, we’d love to help you develop your financial giving strategy. At CCF, we serve as a conduit for giving as well as an active partner throughout your giving journey. Creating a donor-advised fund allows money that is designated for giving to grow tax-free.

If you have any questions about setting up a donor-advised fund or would like to learn more about Christian Community Foundation, please give us a call at (901) 682-6201.

The benefits of donating non-cash assets

At the Christian Community Foundation, we are here to help you start on the path toward generous giving by developing a plan that is right for you and your family. Donor-advised funds are a great way to give strategically, and they can be funded in a number of ways. While liquid-cash assets are a common source of funding, many donors also choose to donate appreciated non-cash assets.

Essentially, non-cash assets represent the value you’ve earned on an investment between the time of purchase and today’s market value. Donors can invest appreciated stock value, appreciated property value, appreciated intellectual property value, and a number of other non-cash assets associated with the appreciated value of many investments.

Why might a donor choose to invest appreciated non-cash assets? First, donating appreciated value from within your investment portfolio does not affect your cash flow. This allows families to donate to charitable organizations they love without impacting their daily operating budget. Second, there are tax benefits many donors experience when they choose to donate appreciated non-cash assets. The Christian Community Foundation always recommends you consult with a trusted financial advisor before making a donation decision with tax implications.

At the Christian Community Foundation, we accept assets of cash, stocks, bonds, real estate or other tangible property. Gifts of non-cash assets are valued and invested in your donor-advised fund, so you can then donate to an organization you love.

There are many options when starting your philanthropic journey, and CCF is here to help you answer God’s call to give. If you have any questions about assets or how you can get started, please contact us at (901) 682-6201.

Giving locally versus giving globally

There are many ways to donate and make a difference around the world or in your backyard, but which is calling to you? Christ commands us to love each other and offer ourselves to those in need, whether they are in our community or across the world.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8-11)

God’s word calls us to give faithfully, but let your heart lead you to where you’re called to give. Local donations support your community and can have an impact on your day-to-day life. Memphis is a city filled with opportunities to give your time and money in an effort to make a difference in community lives. 

When you give locally, you have the opportunity to see the firsthand implications of your donation. You see where your donations are used, you employ locals, create positive relationships and more! 

Choosing to donate outside of your community still impacts your heart and the lives of others. Giving more globally can mean that your monetary gift goes much further and depending on the location, your donation could make a larger tangible impact. Choosing to donate outside of your community also gives you a wider range of nonprofits and causes to support. 

If you decide to donate money nationally or globally, that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to invest locally! Community service and volunteerism has just as much of an impact as monetary donations. You can support organizations abroad while still investing time in your community. 

Deciding where to give can be both exciting and overwhelming, which is why we are here to help you navigate the path toward giving. If you have any questions about deciding where to give or how you can get started, please contact us at (901) 682-6201.

 

Finding the best fund for you

At the Christian Community Foundation, we have many ways for you to easily invest in the community. While traditional donor-advised funds are the most popular option, there are several options that might better suit your unique giving desires. When you’re planning to start a new fund, our team can help you identify the fund-type that is best for you. Here are the two most popular options you can pursue through CCF:

Legacy Fund

A legacy fund through the Christian Community Foundation ensures that your charitable donations live on. Upon your death, your legacy fund will continue to make charitable donations on your behalf to the nonprofit organization(s) of your choice. This fund creates more than a lifetime worth of support – it creates a charitable legacy for your family, friends and loved ones to continue in your honor. If your account is designated as a donor-advised fund – don’t worry. The parameters you outlined at the onset of your relationship with CCF will apply in the event you should pass. If you’d like to update or revise plans related to your DAF, reach out to CCF. 

Scholarship Fund

Investing charitable dollars into education is one of the greatest gifts you can leave to future generations. Many of our donors choose to develop a scholarship fund at the university, college or school of their choice. We can connect our donors to the appropriate school department to manage the scholarship development process directly with the university. If you choose to pursue this arrangement, you can make scholarship contributions directly out of your existing donor-advised fund account. However, you can also create a dedicated scholarship fund through the Christian Community Foundation if that is your wish. Contact our team to learn more about this account type. 

While these are excellent options, there are many more funds to consider when you’re seeking to start your philanthropic journey. The Christian Community Foundation makes it easy for you to answer God’s call to give. If you have any questions about which fund is best for you or how you can get started, please contact us at (901) 682-6201.