Who’s the richest of them all?

This just in from the Nonprofit Newswire –Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu is the new reigning king of the big money mountain. Long-time champ Bill Gates is a distant second on the 2011 Forbes list of world billionaires.    

But don’t cry for Bill, me amigos. Gates “didn’t lose the ‘richest man in the world’ title, which he’d held until 2010 for most of the previous 14 years. Instead, he gave it away by choosing to endow the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with one-third of his personal wealth.” Gates could have held on to his wealth – and the top spot on the Forbes list – but instead, he and his wife chose generosity. Philanthropy has become their vocation – their calling.

And in that, the Gates couple are not so different from the folks with whom I rub shoulders all the time in my work with faith-based nonprofits. Granted, we’re talking about a huge difference in scale of giving. But the wealthy aren’t the only ones who understand that being generous matters.  In fact, individuals (and in particular, persons of faith) of modest or moderate means are the backbone of charitable giving in North America. 

In our book Growing Givers’ Hearts, Thom Jeavons and I write about

the profoundly moving experience of talking with people for whom giving is a regular and conscious practice of their life in faith . . . They all spoke of their commitment to give regularly and generously as an effort to follow the teachings of the Bible more closely and as an expression of their gratitude for and trust in God’s grace. Many spoke of going through period when they struggled to meet their tithe, but in the end they always found they had enough to honor this commitment. And they told of how going through those experiences had greatly deepened their convictions about God’s unfailing love for them.

Whether it’s the wealthiest of the wealthy or the widow with her mite, when fundraisers present opportunities for donors to live God’s call to generosity, hearts grow bigger in faith and joy.

What's your take on this topic?

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