Why People Give More at Christmas

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According to a recent story in USA Today over 1/3 of all charitable giving occurs in the month of December.

WHY?

As a Christian and a church leader, I truly believe it is because it’s the time of year where many people remember the gift that God gave us of His only Son.  Of course, I know there are many mundane reasons also…

  • It’s the end of the year and people are looking for tax write-offs
  • People receive end of the year bonuses and so have available money
  • People are spending so much on gifts for family that a few bucks to charity seem well…less.

Ask someone for $50.00 in July they’ll say they can’t afford it but after they just spent $500 on a bike and a gaming system for their kid, giving $50 to charity become reasonable.

The bottom line is this church leader, your members want to give.

It’s your job to give them a compelling reason to give.

Reasons People Choose Their Church for Christmas Giving:

1. A Clear Vision

People want to understand how their giving makes a difference.  When I sponsor a child through World Vision, I receive a letter that tells me about the child including what benefits my money is purchasing. (Education, new clothes, food etc.)

Why should I give to your church?

2. Special Projects

Are their special projects happening people would be interested in?  Everything from remodeling the children’s wing to drilling a well in Africa can peak someone’s interest.  Your job becomes communication.  Get the information out there. One way is in an end of the year special campaign.

In my church leader coaching network I teach pastors how to organize an effective end-of-the-year giving campaign.  What I can tell you in this short blog is, do a campaign and communicate clearly what they will be giving to.

3. It’s Easy

I know, not the most exciting reason people give but let’s face reality.  Most people abstain from anything confusing or too difficult.

We’ve already established that people want to give more readily in December.  They are already sitting in your church building.  Make it easy to give.  Talk about the giving campaign on Sunday.  Give special envelopes to everyone.  Make it simple (3 steps or less) to give online to this campaign.

In summary, if you’re a church member, I challenge you to give as much to Christian charities this Christmas as you spend on one family member.  

If you’re a church leader, your challenge is to give them a compelling reason to choose to give to your ministry and an easy way to do it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Giving.

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Lessons on Charity from a Child

In Isaiah 11:6 there is a prophesy about the birth of Jesus, “a little child shall lead them.”  A humble baby was the form God used to teach the world the way of salvation.  I believe God often uses children to teach us His lessons today also.

So it is with the story of Rachel Beckwith. Her life can teach us the ways of Christ. Rachel was a giving child from and early age. At 5 years old, she heard about an organization called Locks of Love, a charity that takes donations of human hair from donors and creates wigs for people who have lost their own hair because of cancer or other diseases. Rachel unselfishly had her own hair cut off and sent to Locks of Love. Learning how it added dignity to a suffering person’s life, she grew her hair out for a few years and donated it again!

Then when she was 8 years old, her church began raising money to build wells in Africa through an organization called charity:water. Rachel couldn’t believe it when she learned that many children in Africa had no clean water. She didn’t just feel bad, she acted. She acted by giving up her ninth birthday party.  She gave friends and family a special request.  Instead of giving her presents, would they donate $9 each to charity:_water for water projects in Africa.  She sent up a birthday page for donations at the charity:water website.  In her own words recorded on the page, she let’s us know she hoped to raise $300.

I first heard of this type of campaign at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. I thought, “What an idea!”  A kid giving up their birthday presents to give a drink of water to a child.  It sound like Jesus to me. (Mark 9:41).

Rachel’s 9th birthday was June 12, 2011.  She had her donation site set up and told her friends.  Unfortunately she only raised $220.  She was a little disappointed but the story doesn’t end there.

ON July 20, Rachel was with her family riding in a car when two trucks collided to create a 13-car pileup. Their car was hit and Rachel was left in critically condition.  The rest of her family was unhurt.

Church members and friends, seeking some way of showing support, began donating on Rachel’s birthday page — charitywater.org/Rachel.

Her family and friends told Rachel at her bedside—not knowing whether she could hear them — that she had exceeded the $47,544 that the singer Justin Bieber had raised for charity:water on his 17th birthday.

When it was clear that Rachel would never regain consciousness, the family decided to remove life support. Her parents donated her hair one final time to Locks of Love, and her organs to other children.

After her passing, news began to spread about Rachel’s last fund-raiser. Donations poured in, often in $9 increments, from all over the world.  So far her website has raised over $1 Million dollars for clean water in Africa! This outpouring is explained this way:

Scott Harrison, the founder of charity:water said,
“Adults are humbled by the unselfishness of this little girl.”

Rachel’s mom is planning a trip on the anniversary of her daughter’s death next year to see some of the wells being drilled in Africa in her daughter’s name. She said.

“It’ll be overwhelming to see Rachel’s wells, to see what my 9-year-old daughter has done for people all over the world, to meet the people she has touched.”

Lord may we all learn the lesson of unselfish activism from this one child’s sacrifice.

If you’d like to give to Rachel’s last birthday wish go to: http://mycharitywater.org/Rachel/

Sand Dollars

One of the areas that is thought about the least yet impacted the most during a person’s last 30 Days on this planet is their finances.  In their last month most people stop thinking about paying their bills, saving their money or earning that first million.  Their thoughts instead turn to their relationships, their regrets or their eternal home. If they do think about money, those thoughts are usually motivated by concern for a loved one.  There is either a desire not to leave a financial burden to their families or instructions on how to obtain inheritance carefully set aside for those they love.

No, with 30 Days to live there is no longer a hustle and bustle to earn but an urgency to give.  People become generous, even frivolous at times with money.  No longer looking at money as the goal but as a tool to bring some pleasure to themselves and others with their fleeting few days.  When we think about it, isn’t that the true purpose of money?  It is at best a temporary tool to make life better while we’re here.

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27

We shouldn’t build our lives on money or around obtaining it because it’s temporary.  Sand Dollars is what they are.  (No, not the kind on the beach I’m cleverly using the same wording.) The money we have is made of sand, here a little while then washed away.  Ask anyone who has build their life on the pursuit of money…they will tell you in the last 30 days of life it’s meaningless.  To be wise and build on the rock we must look at what God says about money.

How, begin by tithing.  By giving God back the first portion of all He has given us, we are in fact acknowledging that He is the giver of all we have.

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! – Malachi 3:8-10

The tithe doesn’t belong to us.  It is the Lord’s.  He doesn’t tell us to give it but to bring it because it belongs to Him.  After that, ask God what else to give and be generous.  It isn’t always money He wants but a giving attitude, open your home, give rides or serve in church.  A great way is to give even AFTER you have gone.  People with 30 Days to Live often think of that also.

Remember held money is temporary money. Money given is a seed. A seed that can sprout endlessly all the way into eternity.

Some ways to build God’s Kingdom after you depart this planet are:

  • Take out a low-cost, term life insurance policy with the your local church as the beneficiary. (Please do this after providing one for your family, not before.)
  • Set your estate up to tithe to your local church as your assets are distributed.
  • Name the charity of your choice with a lump sum in your will. (Please see your attorney to set up these last two.)

By doing any of these your finances will actually be building the Kingdom of God on the earth even after you’ve gone on to glory!

Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for every good thing you’ve given me in my life.  My home, job all the money I have come from you.  Help me to always acknowledge you as my Lord through tithing then help me to be generous with what remains.  I don’t want to be controlled by money but use it as a tool for your Kingdom.

Thoughts for Today

  • How often do I think about money?  Is my life dominated by the need for more money, the pressure to pay bills or the desire to have certain lifestyle?
  • Do I put God first in my finances?

Action List

  • If you’re not tithing, start now..
  • If you area tither, pray about ways you can be more generous.
  • Set up a plan to give to work of God (such as your local church) after your death.

President Obama Targets Charitable Giving

President Obama’s recently released budget includes a proposal for a cap on charitable contribution deductions. He says this cap is being proposed to equalize the value of a contribution deduction among taxpayers in different tax brackets.

Will President Obama’s proposals spell disaster for churches and other charities? It’s hard to tell but we certainly know that churches wouldn’t benefit from it.

Here’s an example of the effect of the President’s proposed limit on itemized deductions, if enacted by Congress. A wealthy taxpayer in the 39.6 percent bracket makes a $100,000 contribution to his church. This contribution will result in tax savings of $28,000. Without the President’s limit on itemized deductions, the same contribution would result in tax savings of $39,600. In other words, the same contribution would be $11,500 more costly under the President’s proposal.

You may say “Well who cares if rich people don’t get their tax deductions?” but should a wealthy American be penalized simply because they’ve earned well? Consider Pastor Rick Warren who earns millions a year but gives 90% to his church and lives on the remaining 10%.   He would be liable for a huge tax burden that would decrease the amount given to church to pay the tax.

What about average Americans who may give sacrificially?  Twice in my life I’ve given away more than 50% of my income to my local church. I would not have been able to pay the taxes on the total amount.

Our tax laws are structured to encourage people to donate to charities.  In these tough econmic times Mr. President we don’t need the government to take money out of our churc offering plates.  Leave our donation incentives alone!!

Please write your congressman and tell them to not hurt our churches by taking away charitable giving tax incentives.