Re-gifting abundance

America’s nonprofits are in full ask mode as the clock runs down on 2012, and everyone, it seems, is feeling a little shaky. Nonstop talk of a looming fiscal cliff, along with hints that the charitable giving deduction could be on the chopping block, have even the most optimistic of fundraisers biting their nails.

As for the giving public, it seems they’ve gotten the message that spending, not giving, is their patriotic duty. Per a World Vision Holiday Giving Survey, “fewer Americans plan to spend less money on holiday gifts this year as a result of the current economic climate, but at the same time, many are less likely to give a charitable gift as a holiday present.”

The news coming out of Charity Navigator points to a slightly better outcome. The organization’s year-end survey shows that 85% of respondents donated during the 2011 year-end giving season, and even more – 88 percent – plan to give this time around. Of those generous folks, 56% expect to give the same amount as last year, 29% will give more, and 15% will give less. In other words, the sky may not be falling, but the clouds are hanging low over the nonprofit sector.

There’s a lot of gloomy this December. It’s not easy getting past the scarcity headlines.

Yet we know that when generous hearts are touched by a compelling message, by the possibility of being part of transformational ministry, amazing gifts can and do follow. Panic works as a fundraising strategy in the short-term, but an invitation into the promise of the organization is the surer route to sustained, significant support.

If ever there was a time for those of us who serve from the faith-based side of the house to pass along — to re-gift, if you well — the promise of God’s abundance, it’s now.

SPEAKING OF ABUNDANCE

As Thom Jeavons and I wrote in Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry, Christian fundraisers and organizations can, indeed must, talk about giving in the following terms:

We can talk about how giving can be an act of trust in the beneficence of God, in the abundance of God’s grace, and in the possibilities for making a better world when we cooperate in that grace. We can talk about how taking the risk of making a ‘stretch gift’ (when that is the right thing to do) can become the occasion to learn about how God sustains the faith. Henri Nouwen once said, ‘Every time I take a step in the direction of generosity, I know I am moving from fear to love.’ Christian fundraisers can offer people a chance to take that step.

As fundraisers for faith-based causes invite donors into a celebration of God’s abundance and faithfulness, hearts grow bigger, braver, and more generous. When that happens, scarcity doesn’t have a chance.

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