Three reasons for focusing on givers’ hearts

About a year ago, my friend Mark Vincent, then serving as interim CEO for the Christian Leadership Alliance, invited a group of writers (yours truly included) to “boil down the key aspects of what you’ve been bringing to field into its powerful and focused essentials” into a book chapter.

The resulting volume, Becoming a Steward Leader, goes on sale in mid-April, and I hope you’ll add it to your reading list. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from my chapter, “Growing the Heart of the Giver.”

WHY ATTENTION TO GIVERS’ HEARTS MATTERS

Back in the late 1990s, when I first began talking and writing about the importance of giving attention to God at work in donors’ hearts, there wasn’t a lot of interest in the topic. But what a difference a decade and half has made.

Today, there are books, blogs (including Generous Matters), websites, workshops, degree programs, and entire organizations focused on encouraging and equipping fundraisers of faith to approach their work as ministry. The focus  on donor hearts has even taken hold in secular circles where researchers and consultants tout the advantages that fundraising programs derive from what’s frequently labeled as “mission-centered” fundraising.

NAMING THE GREATER GOODS

For all the greater attention to the topic,  I continue to encounter skeptics who consider talk about growing givers’ hearts as much ado about not much of importance. In response, let me suggest (again) three reasons why focusing on heart growth matters.

  • First, seeking to grow generous hearts is good for individuals. Generosity is a spiritual issue of the heart. A person cannot move toward spiritual maturity until he or she understands that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
  • Second, seeking to grow generous hearts is good for Christ-centered organizations. The most vital resource that communities of faith have to do God’s work in the world is faithful people. The ministry organization that vividly tells its story and challenges individuals to live beyond themselves, attracts financial resources – in good economic times and bad.
  • Third, seeking to grow generous hearts is good for the wider society. According to Giving USA, religious households give 87.5 percent of all charitable contributions, averaging over $2,100 in annual contributions to all causes. In fact, persons of faith are 25 percentage points more likely to donate money and 23 points more likely to volunteer time than the general populations. Religious practice by itself is associated with $1,388 more in an individual’s giving per year.

A gift of just a few dollars can be the entry point into a lifetime of Spirit-inspired generosity. Add passion for a cause to the mix and it is amazing the outcome – for individuals, for Christ-centered organizations, and for the world at large.

In other words, generous matters all around.

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