Friday afternoon reflections on another week of generous matters



To Will and Kate, with best wishes. Earlier today, I tore myself away from the telly just long enough to click over to the charitable gift fund that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Will and Kate) established soon after announcing their engagement to the world. I selected “children fulfilling their potential” and then chose a charity called Beatbullying  as the recipient of my gift in honor of the young couple.

Within minutes I received an email thank you, which is amazing considering how busy their royal highnesses are today. They must have had their smart phones with them in that golden carriage.

Do we see a trend in the making? Not likely, states Matt Bell of Matt about Money blog fame. He cites a recent American Express survey finding that only two percent of Americans would ask guests at their wedding to donate to a charity. Yet, as Matt notes, lessons can be learned from the royal example.

First is the importance of talking about charitable giving before getting married. What has been each person’s pattern to date?  How much do they give away each year?  Is the amount chosen based on a percentage of income or through some other process?  What organizations does each person support?  Which ones will they support once they are married?

The second point, which is applicable to all, not just couples, is whether you’d like to create a foundation or charitable gift fund (also known as a donor advised fund) at some point. It may not be realistic to create such a fund when you’re young, but wouldn’t it be a great goal to create a charitable giving mechanism that continues to make a difference long after you’re gone?

Here, here, Matt. Well said!

Not to rain on the wedding parade, but . . . On this joyous day for royal watchers worldwide, I hate to bring up some bad news. However, fundraisers in the US were caught short by the report in this week’s Chronicle of Philanthropy that giving during the recession fell more sharply than previously predicted.  We’re warned to “no longer believe that individual giving is very resilient, decreasing only minimally, or holding steady in times of crisis as severe as this recession,”

Yet we know that generous people continue to give to causes that touch their hearts.  Writing in Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry, Thom Jeavons and I urge fundraisers working with faith-based organizations to “plan and pursue the work of fundraising as ministry with a clear recognition of God’s abundance. It is that abundance upon which we must rely, and in which we can surely trust” — even when prognosticators warn of stormy days ahead.

MDS is on the way. I had a hunch the good folks at Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) would be on their way to communities hit hard by violent weather over the past week, and I was right. The MDS website reports that regional directors are en route to Alabama to assess the situation and trained Early Response Teams are on alert.

MDS volunteers are well-known for repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by disasters. But it takes more than the best efforts of volunteer carpenters to bring a community back to wholeness. MDS depends upon the financial support of people who believe that disaster response is God’s work too. If that’s you, go to the MDS website and donate now. Be part of restoring lives.


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