Thursday, May 08, 2008
Just to illustrate Russ' point, when disaster strikes, my congregation is known to take a special offering for assistance. Usually we raise between five and ten thousand dollars. Given the size of the congregation, that is quite significant. However, after Katrina we got over twenty thousand in a single Sunday.
But that story also illustrates where the zero sum perception comes from. I know in my own life there are two kinds of giving - obligatory and passionate. Of course, we get hit for donations from every direction, and out of a sense of obligation I often throw $20 the way of whoever is asking. In one sense that is zero sum. You call me, you don't tick me off, you're involved in a cause I vaguely agree with, you are going to get $20. But, when the calls come in 6 or 7 a night, there is a fatigue factor that sets in and I shut it off - limiting the size of the pie. In essence, there is a budget for obligatory giving and all those people that call know they are competing with each other.
But then there is passionate giving - those things that I care about and am willing to give to sacrificially. My church, churches staffed by friends, anything for the soldiers overseas, the Lutheran school that educated my father - it's a short list.
To me, the important question is "Are you engaged in passionate giving?" There are any number of non-profits in this nation because just about everybody engages in obligatory giving. For some this strikes them as an easier way to make a living than earning it, so they start a cause for whatever.
But passionate giving is a whole different world. I believe we are called, by God, to give passionately. This is not a legalism thing, it is a question of placing God, and others, before ourselves. See Philippians 2.
And if you are running a non-profit, and you feel like you are competing for resources, that you lack a passionate base, ask yourself why. Why does your cause not move people sufficiently that they give passionately. If you are a church, and you do not have passionate givers, you have a problem, you are not making genuine disciples. In the end, isn't that the point?
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