Celebration of Generosity in Memphis

Hope Foundation Sees Significant Donation Boost

The largest Christian community foundation in the United States, it has assets of about $55 million, but its strategy is to share that wealth rather than build endowments. It is on track to break records in 2009. For the first nine months of this year, the foundation has received $24 million, an increase of 18 percent from the same period a year ago.

“The Hope Foundation is just a conduit for people to give their money through,” said Mike Harris, president of the foundation.

[pullquote_right]“This is what is remarkable about our donors. They have increased giving in 2008 and increased giving in 2009, in years that are obviously challenging. Most other nonprofits have seen a decrease in giving.”
– Mike Harris
President, Hope Christian Community Foundation[/pullquote_right]

The people who support the foundation – almost 400 of them – dined on turkey and dressing at the “Celebration of Generosity Luncheon” last week, but thanksgiving prayers occur throughout the year for those involved in the organization.

Wealth, Health and Wisdom

Alan Barnhart gives thanks because he and his brother, Eric, are able to share the profits from Barnhart Crane & Rigging. They have given $1 million a month to Christian charities in the past two years.

“I didn’t want financial success in business to be spiritual failure in life,” Barnhart told the attendees at the luncheon.

Another personal testimony came in the form of a videotape. David Montague, who once worked as an investment broker and now serves as director of Memphis Teacher Residency, told how taking a one-year sabbatical from excess spending changed his life.

In a follow-up interview Monday with The Daily News, he said people with affluent lifestyles become enslaved to their incomes.

“The sabbatical year trains you or reminds you that the whole point is not to live to the absolute highest degree that your income can afford you,” Montague said. “That’s a great lesson to learn, how to live beneath your means. This is gospel. By definition, Christ lived beneath his means. He was downwardly mobile for the sake of other people.”

Practicing What They Preach

Founded only 11 years ago, Hope Christian Community Foundation has experienced impressive growth in donations. It supports educational initiatives, youth programs, churches, families and international missions.

“We serve about 250 donors through managing what we call donor-advised funds, which is the functional equivalent of a personal foundation,” Harris said. “These are families, individuals and companies that have funds with us. Our founding Bible verse was ‘seeking the peace of the city,’ Jeremiah 29:7.

“We have broadened that to include the world, obviously. The idea is that our donors are investing in Christian ministries because they can transform lives, and that’s the bottom line to our foundation.”

Giving last year totaled $34 million, up from $19 million in 2007, he said, and donations this year are on track to surpass last year.

“This is what is remarkable about our donors,” Harris said. “They have increased giving in 2008 and increased giving in 2009, in years that are obviously challenging. Most other nonprofits have seen a decrease in giving.”

Barnhart Crane & Rigging is one of the biggest contributors. Alan Barnhart said he and his brother decided to enact safeguards when they bought the business from their parents to keep wealth from taking over their lives.

“The first year of our business we actually made a little money,” Barnhart said. “We were so excited to be able to give away up to $50,000.”

The business has grown at the rate of 25 percent a year for the past 23 years.

“We’re 100 times as big as we were when we started,” Barnhart said. “We’ve gone from being able to give away tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands, and a few years ago, we got to the point where we could give away $1 million a year.

“One of our guys said, ‘Why don’t we stretch the goal and give away $1 million a month?’ In 2008 and again in 2009, we were able to meet that goal.”

Giving has allowed the Barnhart family to live more simply than most successful businesspeople, but Alan Barnhart said they have enjoyed a greater degree of freedom and other blessings.

“It’s been much more fulfilling to be a giver than it would ever have been to be a consumer,” he said. “It has been much more freeing to be a steward than it would ever have been to be an owner.”

The above article was published in the Memphis Daily News by Tom Wilemon

Although Hope did not record Alan Barhart’s Generous Testimony, the following is a similar testimony he shared recently at a Generous Giving conference.

Year End Giving 2008

“The Giving Season” is upon us. The most active days for giving each year start the day after Thanksgiving and run through December 20th.  For various reasons, many wait until the last second to fund donor advised funds or to submit grants to the ministries and non-profits they want to remember before the end of the year.

One of the many benefits to your Hope donor advised fund is that you are not limited by time to direct grants from your fund to a ministry.  If you do desire to get a grant to a ministry before the end of the year, we will cutoff grant requests on Friday, December 26th at Noon in order to cut checks and mail them out by year end.

We do accept gifts into your donor advised funds through December 31st at Midnight.  Complex gifts, such as stock transfers, must be received into our account by the end of 2008.  Please be mindful that many stock transfers take an average of three to five days to process.

Grant Requests Deadline to Ministries by Year End: Friday, December 26, Noon

The Panic of 2008

Given the unprecedented financial crisis of the last several weeks, we felt a few comments of its impact on the Foundation and its wider impact on Christian ministries in the City are appropriate.

Of greatest concern is the impact of this turmoil on the approximate 75 Christian ministries serving the City of Memphis.  With annual budgets of approximately $40 million and hundreds of dedicated employees sacrificially serving the under-resourced, these ministries are almost totally dependent on contributions from individuals, churches and foundations.  Reports of budget shortfalls were widespread prior to September.  Such concerns will worsen as year end approaches and when most ministries raise a large portion of their annual budgets. We ask that donors prayerfully continue their support of these ministries that faithfully serve our City.  With the current state of the economy, there has never been a greater opportunity to make an impact on the ministries you love.  As the financial need has grown, so has the opportunity for significant impact.

Financially, the Hope Christian Community Foundation remains strong with assets at the end of September slightly below the April 30th (our most recent fiscal year end) level of $70 million.  While a declining stock market has reduced assets by about $10 million, this has been more than offset by contributions to donor advised funds.  Grants made from donor advised funds for the first five months of the current fiscal year were a record $14 million or 70% higher than last year during the same period.  The Lord is truly working through Hope to impact His Kingdom in the City and around the World.

We recently announced the curtailment of plans for the Servant Leader Awards Luncheon in order to save this expense.  We will, however, make the Servant Leader Awards totaling $15,000 to three ministries but without the large crowd and fanfare.

We thank you for your confidence and generosity as we help you serve the Lord.

Happy 10th Birthday Hope!

Servant Leader Awards Lunch to be Held November 6th
November is a busy month at the Hope Christian Community Foundation.  As the staff prepares for end of the year giving and celebrating our tenth anniversary, Hope will kick off the fall with our annual Servant Leader Awards Lunch.  This year the lunch will be held November 6 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  at the Holiday Inn located at the University of Memphis campus. Bryan Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Church of Memphis, is the featured speaker.

Hope Christian Community Foundation will present six Servant Leader Awards to individuals for their contributions as volunteers to Christian charitable organizations in the Mid-South.  We will give three awards of $5,000 to the organizations which nominated their winning volunteer.  In addition, we will award three scholarships of $2,000 to students who have been nominated for their service in the community. The qualifications used to evaluate the nominees included how they contributed to the organization, the impact they had on the ministry and how they exemplified Christ-like servant leader qualities.

This year’s ministry award winners are Lisa Langley, Palmer Home for Children; Matthew Gandy, Eikon Ministries; and John Humphreys, Jacob’s Ladder Community Development Corporation.  The scholarship award winners are Delvin Tubbs, Streets Ministries; Brandon Privett, Crichton College; and Norma Lester, Neighborhood Christian Centers.

2007 Servant Leader Award Winners

  • Lisa Langley
    Palmer Home for Children; Robert Farris – Executive Director
    Palmer Home’s mission is to reflect the hope and love of Christ by providing a stable, long-term Christ-centered home for children who lack an adequate family structure.
  • Matthew Gandy
    Eikon Ministries; Soup Campbell – Executive Director
    Eikon Ministries’ mission is to build urban leaders who will change their community from the inside out.
  • John Humphreys
    Jacob’s Ladder; William Marler – Executive Director
    Jacob’s Ladder’s mission is to revitalize the inner-city neighborhoods through community partnerships.
  • Delvin Tubbs
    Streets Ministries; Ken Bennett – Executive Director
    Streets Ministries is an inner-city youth ministry with the purpose of unconditionally representing the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed in Memphis Housing developments.
  • Brandon Privett
    Crichton College; Larry Lloyd – President
    Crichton College educates students in a Christ-centered, liberal arts community to think critically, grow spiritually, and change the world.  Brandon’s service is a part of Crichton’s CREW program.
  • Norma Lester
    Neighborhood Christian Center; Ephie Johnson – Executive Director
    The mission of Neighborhood Christian Centers is to provide compassionate and Christ centered ministry to the practical and spiritual needs of the city’s poor.

We are excited to partner with these servant leaders to benefit the ministries involved.  If you have yet to make reservations for the Servant Leader Awards Lunch please contact Brenda Brazley as soon as possible at 901.682.6201.