If God owns everything, how can we be good stewards?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

– James 1:17

As Christians, we know everything we have on Earth is God’s. And as he provides for us and blesses us beyond our needs, it’s good to reflect on how we can use his blessings to spread the Gospel. At the Christian Community Foundation, we call that Biblical Stewardship. But how can we ensure we’re good stewards of his blessings, or how can we start if we’ve never looked at giving that way before?

Prayerfully consider your requests.

Giving is a spiritual act of worship. When we give to others, we’re spreading God’s love and good news – so shouldn’t we include Him in those decisions? Before requesting a grant, we encourage you to lift your thoughts to Him in prayer. By incorporating God into your giving, you can ensure your gift giving is Christ centered and heaven minded.

Incorporate the whole family.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

– Proverbs 22:6

Instead of making giving a solitary act, why not include the whole family? The Bible encourages us to set an example for our children, and what better way to inspire them to give than by exposing them to generosity? Before deciding where to give, consider asking your children about causes they’re passionate about and allowing them to be a part of the grant requesting process. This will make your child feel important and a part of the bigger picture. It also demonstrates firsthand the importance of giving back and why we as Christians are called to do so.

Give with a generous spirit.

As Christians, God calls us to give – not out of obligation, but of our own volition.

Think to Mark 12:41-44, the parable of the Widow’s Offering. Many wealthy people came to make an offering at the temple, but Jesus noticed a widow giving just two coins and said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

God loves a cheerful giver. He doesn’t care about the monetary amount; He cares about our hearts. When you give with God in your heart, your gifts will multiply tenfold!

If you have questions about CCF or donor-advised funds or want advice about how and where to give, feel free to give us a call at 901-682-6201.

3 lessons on generosity

When you think of generosity in the Bible, do any stories come to mind? While you might recall some of those stories to motivate your generosity in life, you can also use them to teach your children, grandchildren, niece and nephews. If you’re looking to talk to the young people in your life about the power of generosity and God’s love, here are three stories that can help. 

The widow’s offering

One of the most well-known stories on generosity comes from Mark 12:41-45. Jesus was at the temple with his disciples sitting across from the place where offerings were made. They had seen many wealthy people come by to put large amounts of money in the treasury, but then the widow came along and placed two coins inside. Compared to the other offerings that were being made, you wouldn’t think that this would catch much attention, but Jesus recognized that woman immediately. He told his disciples that out of all the offerings that had been given, the poor widow put more in than anyone else because she gave everything she had while everyone else just gave because they were wealthy. 

The story of the widow provides a great framework for talking to the children in your life about what they can give. This isn’t just a story to teach them about financial giving and tithing, but it’s also an opportunity to discuss the blessings that God has given them and how they can use those blessings to generously give to others. 

Reaping what you sow

The next lesson you can use to teach your children about giving is from 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. In this story, we are told that those who give generously will receive generously, and those who give sparingly will also receive sparingly. We’re also told that God loves a cheerful giver. He doesn’t want people to give because they feel like they have to, but they should give because they feel in their heart that it’s the right thing to do. 

Through this story, you will be able to teach your children about the power of God and how everything we have comes from Him. He so generously gives to us, so we should generously give back in return. However, it’s important that we teach children to give out of a place of love. Your gifts should come from the heart — not because you feel like you have to do it. 

Feeding 5,000

In Matthew 14:14-21, Jesus and his disciples find themselves in a remote area with a crowd of people around them. His disciples told Him that He should send the crowds away to surrounding towns to find something to eat because it was getting late. Jesus told them not to send the crowds away, and they should give them food. The disciples said that they only had five loaves of bread and two fish. They brought what they had to Jesus, he thanked God for them and the disciples started handing out food. God performed a miracle and made five loaves of bread and two fish fed that huge crowd — and there were leftovers!

While this story doesn’t directly relate to financial generosity, it’s a great story for teaching children about what God can do with the things that he is given. Whether it’s a meager portion of bread and fish or your child’s money from the tooth fairy, God can take what He is given and bless others abundantly. 

The children in your life look up to you. They want to be like you when they grow up. When they see you giving to others, it’s important to be able to explain to them why you choose to give. We give because God tells us to, and we give because we feel in our hearts that it’s a good and righteous thing to do. Make sure your children understand the power of generosity and God’s love. 

NexGen Fund: What you need to know about this powerful tool

In 2019, we launched our NexGen Fund – a vehicle designed to create family conversations about giving. By teaching the next generation about the importance of philanthropy, we can work together to establish a legacy of generational giving.

Since our NexGen Fund is the newest addition to our fund lineup, you may have a few questions about how it operates. This powerful tool is flexible, affordable and fun!

You can use the NexGen Fund to create a giving account for a minor.

As its name alludes, the NexGen Fund raises a new generation of givers. To get started, you or a family member can create a fund in a child, grandchild or godchild’s name regardless of age. Upon telling them about their fund, use this opportunity as a time to share the importance of giving and discuss causes and organizations that are important to them to gain insight into their future giving.

The fund-holder gains full access once they’re of age.

After you’ve created an account, the fund is available for use at any time. Depending upon the amount you’ve invested, the fund could appreciate as the child ages. Once they’re of legal age, they gain full access to their fund and are able to give as they desire. One idea if you’d like to make giving a family affair is to sit down at holiday dinners or birthdays and discuss recent gifts you’ve given to local organizations or causes. This can inspire giving and possibly spark new ideas in your loved one for giving recipients!

You don’t have to hit the same giving threshold.

Another bonus of the NexGen Fund is that there is no threshold to start the fund. For example, our usual investment threshold to create a donor-advised fund is $2,500. However, there’s no minimum to create a NexGen Fund!

With these perks, what are you waiting for? Give us a call at 901-682-6201 to establish a NexGen Fund and begin fostering your giving legacy today.

How to evaluate your giving plan

When you create a plan to give strategically, oftentimes, you’re creating systems to streamline and regulate your giving. These efficiency strategies help you give more money to organizations that need it by automating your giving. While you are giving generously, you may forget that you’re even doing it because you’re rarely writing a check or even thinking about where your money is going. We’ve talked about this before on our blog – sometimes, we go into giving autopilot.

To make giving something you’re thinking about regularly, we recommend evaluating your giving regularly. We don’t answer the “Where should I give?” and “How much should I give?” questions, but there are more things to evaluate when it comes to philanthropy! Here are several ideas to get you started:

Do I want to designate my gifts?

When you disburse a grant to a nonprofit organization, it most often goes to the organization’s general donation pool. The organization can use those funds at its discretion. But, some nonprofits allow donors to invest in more specific programs so they can better understand how their donation is making an impact. There are a few common types of donation pools:

  1. Programmatic initiatives – Some organizations allow donors to specifically invest in their longstanding programming. Instead of giving to an organization overall, you might be able to choose one of their specific support programs and invest in that work.
  2. Seasonal campaigns – Nonprofits sometimes provide seasonal services like summer camps or holiday meals. You can support these specific efforts seasonally.
  3. Specialty campaigns – Sometimes referred to as a capital campaign, specialty campaigns help nonprofits meet specific, timely needs. For example, many nonprofits will run a capital campaign to make essential building repairs or renovations. You can help a nonprofit continue its work by investing in these efforts.

Connect with the team at CCF to learn about how to designate your grants for a specific purpose.

Do I want to adjust my giving cadence?

Most donors request grants at a certain rhythm – and when that rhythm is automated, it’s easy to forget you’re doing it! No matter how often you make donations, taking time to evaluate your cadence is an easy way to reconnect with your philanthropic journey. Depending upon the organizations you donate to and your family’s personal financial circumstances, it may make more sense to donate smaller amounts frequently or to donate one large amount at one time. While we will never advise our donors on how much to give, our team can help you time your giving in a way that will make the most impact.

Can I be more impactful by adjusting my donation timing?

It’s always our goal for our family of givers to use their accounts frequently to bless organizations in need. Oftentimes, this means that you are budgeting an amount for charitable donations, placing that amount in your donor-advised fund, and doling it out during the course of a year. One way to keep this process more engaging is to look back at the last year and see when you received the most requests for donations from nonprofits you love. Depending upon the organizations you support, you might field more requests as school restarts, as the holidays approach, as winter sets in or as the summer starts to heat up. This can help you reserve excess funds to meet in-the-moment needs throughout the year. As you respond to requests throughout the year, you are becoming a more active giver!

How to talk to your children about a donor-advised fund

At CCF, we often refer to our donors as “family members.” Why? Because we believe that to be true! We’re united through Christ by the same mission – to make a difference worldwide through strategic, generous and impactful giving. We also believe that giving is a family friendly practice and a way to build a legacy for generations to come. How can you get your family involved? We suggest starting with your kids!

How to introduce donor-advised funds to your children

Kids are known to mimic the actions of those around them. For example, a child may pretend to stir something in a bowl after helping bake a cake. You can use this to your advantage when it comes to giving. If they see you placing something in the offering plate at church, they’ll want to do the same! This is a great time to pass them a dollar or some change so they can feel like they’re doing their part.

How to incorporate teens and older children into giving decisions

Does your child have an allowance? Ask them to set aside some of it to donate to a cause they’re passionate about. If you don’t already know, this is a good time to ask them what they’re passionate about. Do they love animals? Discuss requesting a grant from your personal or family donor-advised fund to a local animal shelter. Are they into sports? Suggest a donation to a local boys and girls club or sports-centered youth ministry. There are many ways to get your older children involved and let them know they’re making a difference!

How to share donor-advised funds with your adult children

As children age, it may seem harder to incorporate them into your giving decisions. One way to keep them apart is to make giving a family activity. Choose a time you’re all together, like a holiday or family dinner, and discuss which organizations or causes are important to you. From there, you can come together to decide which one to request a grant to based on your earlier conversation. Additionally, there is the option to set up donor-advised funds for each family member or each of your children’s family. This is a great way to build your legacy and keep the giving cycle going!

If you’d like to further discuss how to incorporate your children into your giving or would like to establish separate funds, give us a call at 901-682-6201.

How to incorporate prayerful consideration into your giving

As Christians, we’re called to demonstrate generosity and kindness daily. Giving is personal and unique to each donor, so at CCF, we encourage prayerful discussions with our Lord and Savior when you’re making gift considerations. Keep reading to learn more about why incorporating prayer into your giving routine is important and how to do so if you aren’t already.

Everything belongs to God.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” – Psalm 24:1

I feel the verse above encapsulates why prayerful consideration is imperative to giving. All we own is borrowed from God. As His followers, we are to use those blessings to honor Him and care for His people. What better way to ensure His will be done than to consult with Him first!

God will take care of and provide for us.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38

Generosity spreads like wildfire. When we give, it inspires others to pass it on! Additionally, we needn’t worry about worldly material things because God is always there for us. He gives and He takes away – we know that we have everything we need when we have Him.

Now that we’ve discussed why prayerful consideration when giving is important, here are a few ways to introduce it into your practice.

Ask for guidance when choosing an organization.

Choosing a cause or organization to donate to can be a looming task. Every nonprofit organization does meaningful work and creates change throughout our community and the world. If you’re debating on where to make your grant recommendation, ask the Lord to reveal it to you. Pray that He opens your eyes to a cause that means something to you and your family, and that He blesses your gift.

Ask that His will be done.

After you’ve made your decision, pray for your gift! Pray that His will be done and that your gift blesses those in need. Ask that your gift serves as a guiding light for Him.

Ask that your heart be changed.

Finally, we recommend asking that your heart be changed. Ask that your eyes are open to the needs of our community and the world, and that you and your family continue to do His work.

Giving is incredibly personal, and making decisions can be challenging without guidance. But when you incorporate prayer into your giving process, you can count upon God to open your heart and mind to organizations in need.

When to consider granting anonymously

One of the major benefits of granting through a donor-advised fund is that community foundations take on the administrative aspects of giving. Once a fund holder requests a grant, the community foundation handles vetting the grantee, check processing and distribution. A letter is included with each check that includes the donor’s name and mailing address for acknowledgements. However, if a donor requests to be anonymous, the donor’s information is excluded from the letter.

Why might a donor want to give a gift anonymously? Is anonymous giving something you should consider? There are several reasons why anonymous gifting might be the right option for you or your family:

You want to alleviate donor relations work a nonprofit has to perform.
Many nonprofit organizations have robust donor relations programs that require handwritten thank yous, specialized invitations to events, and targeted communication outreach, among other things. This is a lot of work for nonprofit organizations that are working tirelessly to support their clients. By giving anonymously, you can support the organization without adding another donor to their donor relations docket.

You generally prefer privacy.
Some companies and families choose to remain known so that recognition of their gifts may drive awareness and further support for the respective organization, especially among extended family or professional circles. You’ve likely seen sponsors and donors highlighted at annual galas, sporting events and other large gatherings. Sometimes seeing others’ commitment to giving back can spark a desire in our own hearts – there is definitely a time and a place for it! But if you want to give a gift at a high level and prefer your name not be flashed on a screen, you can give a gift anonymously. This allows you to give to organizations you love without your gift amount or name being associated with the organization.

Your gift is a one-time gift and you don’t want to be solicited for future gifts.
Say tragedy strikes across the country and you feel led to donate to disaster support efforts. You can use your donor-advised fund to make that grant request. But because the organization is outside of your community, you don’t plan to give to the organization more than once. By giving anonymously, your information will be withheld from the organization. Therefore, you cannot be solicited by the organization for future gifts.

Your career makes anonymity the best option.
Depending upon your career, it may be in your best interest to give gifts anonymously. For example, if you are a pastor, it is fair to assume that your congregants seek to follow your wisdom and advice. There are thousands of worthy Christian nonprofits out there that your congregants can bless with gifts. If you publically give to one of them, that might sway your congregation to invest in that organization rather than spreading their gifts across ministries as they feel called. Giving anonymously prevents this from happening.

When to choose a faith-based community foundation

If you’re a donor-advised fund holder, how did you choose the community foundation in which you invested? For most fund holders, a recommendation from a friend or a trusted financial advisor is all it takes to make a decision. After all, the organization is a conduit for your giving. Why should it matter which community foundation you choose?

If your ultimate goal is to find an organization that will help you manage your giving, then it doesn’t much matter. One community foundation’s fees may be nominally larger, whereas others might offer a more robust online giving platform. These differences are negligible to the average fund holder. But if you have expanded giving aspirations – like supporting organizations that align with your faith – then choosing a faith-based foundation may be the right choice for you.

When selecting your community foundation partner, we recommend asking the following questions to determine if a faith-based foundation is a good fit for you.


How do you approach your giving?

Giving is incredibly personal, and the motivations behind giving are unique to each individual. Community foundations can be great encouragers, spurring their donors to consider how they might improve the lives of their neighbors through philanthropic investments. If your faith drives how you approach giving, then a faith-based foundation might be a great fit for you. Your contacts at the organization will help you talk through your giving goals in a way that aligns with your faith and your vision, making the process clearer for you and your family. They can also provide faith-based encouragement, potentially helping you reimagine how and why you give.

Who are you giving to?

Community foundations can set parameters on which organizations you can and cannot donate to from your donor-advised fund. Most foundations keep these limitations to a minimum. But you want to make sure that the foundation you choose will help align your generosity with your Christian beliefs. If your preference is to donate to ministries or faith-based nonprofit organizations, choosing to invest in a faith-based foundation is a great option.

How do you want your foundation to operate?

Foundations fund their operations by collecting a percentage of gains on donor-advised fund accounts. Sometimes, these financially savvy organizations operate in such a way that they have surplus funds available throughout the year. These funds allow community foundations to invest in organizations as they choose. When you partner with a faith-based community foundation, there is an increased likelihood that any surplus funds will go to organizations that align with your religious convictions. At the Christian Community Foundation, our surplus funds go into the Hope For Memphis Grant Fund, which supports Christian nonprofits helping underserved areas of Memphis. Our donors know that any surplus funds we have after covering our operating expenses go to these organizations who also spread the Gospel.

Giving community prepares for wealth transfer

According to Federal Reserve data, Americans age 70 and older have acquired more than $35 trillion in their lifetimes, making up 27% of U.S. wealth. In fact, Cerulli Associates projects baby boomers will pass down more than $70 trillion by 2042. While the majority of these funds will go to heirs and family members, a large portion of funds will be set aside for charities and other philanthropic efforts. This is where the Christian Community Foundation comes in!

Recently, president Rex Jones spoke with Christin Yates of the Daily Memphian about what this means for
giving foundations like CCF.

As of 2021, anyone can give up to $11.7 million in inheritance and still avoid federal gift or estate taxes. Additionally, gifts up to $15,000 can be given within a calendar year without tax implications. This transfer of funds is causing nonprofits to see an uptick in donations and the establishment of donor-advised funds to better manage money.

“A benefit of a donor-advised fund is that you can create a plan for giving,” said Rex. “It’s our job at CCF to ensure your giving philosophy and wishes are carried out in the way you decided.”

Another benefit baby boomers are taking advantage of is a donor-advised funds’ ability to grow funds tax free. Money accrues and your loved ones get the best part of the job – giving it away!

To learn more about the largest wealth transfer in modern U.S. history, check out this Daily Memphian article.

Have you checked your donor-advised fund recently?

Donor-advised funds make giving easy, effective and efficient. It’s like having your own private foundation! However, we know how easy it can be to forget about your fund, especially if you aren’t a regular giver. If you haven’t established a stewardship philosophy for yourself or your family, we encourage you to learn how to do that by clicking here. A stewardship philosophy will encourage you to give more frequently and allow you to meet your giving goals. In combination with establishing a stewardship philosophy, regularly checking your donor-advised fund will help you remain mindful of your God-given responsibility to give that which you’ve been entrusted. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of monitoring your fund.

Gift giving inspiration

Regularly checking your donor-advised fund can serve as gift giving inspiration! When you log in to Donor Central, you’ll first see your available funds and your most recent gifts. From there, you can click “Recommend a grant” to search through a list of organizations who have previously received gifts from CCF’s donors. Scrolling through this list can spark inspiration for your next gift! Can’t find the establishment you’re looking for? Select “Add new charity” to add the organization you’d like to make a gift to.

Tax free growth

Another benefit to regularly checking your fund is to watch your fund’s growth. The funds invested into your account grow tax free, which helps you give even more! While this tax benefit is a bonus, we focus on the bigger picture of giving those funds away at CCF. We love helping you help others!

Organizational involvement

Last but certainly not least, a major benefit to regularly checking your donor-advised fund is staying up to date with CCF! We consider you a part of our family and enjoy getting to know you and yours. We pride ourselves in maintaining close relationships with our donors. We’re only an email or phone call away if you ever have any questions regarding your fund or need assistance with your account.

Are you looking to establish a donor-advised fund or stewardship philosophy? Do you have questions about Donor Central or the gift giving process? If so, please contact CCF’s director of donor relations Stephanie Jones at stephanie@ccfmemphis.org or at 901-682-1790.