Ready to start giving but don’t really know where to even start? Author Kim King is back with her experienced advice on carefully being a good steward of what God has blessed you with so you can be a blessing to others, too.
The Christmas season reminds us of the generosity of our Heavenly Father. Nothing we give can compare to His gift to us: His son Jesus. This inexpressible gift to us is our principle reason for giving generously.
This time of year also provides additional reasons to consider giving. We may want to be sure we take full advantage of the tax deduction for charitable giving. At this point in the year, we can estimate of our total yearly income and from that total the maximum charitable deduction we may take on our federal tax returns. In addition, many of us receive a bonus from our employer this time of year. For these reasons, this time of year is a good time to evaluate our giving during the year.
We receive many requests for giving during this season. In the busyness of this time of year and the barrage of giving requests, we could easily make a decision out of line with the Holy Spirit’s direction.
I keep in mind a couple of valuable principles when deciding how best to give:
- All I have belongs to God and I am the steward.
- Faithful stewardship requires wisdom and guidance from God.
- Money is a tool that has impact, both good and bad. A gift given inconsistent with God’s desire can harm God’s plan for the organization we give to, as well as that recipient God desired.
I begin my end-of-year giving decisions with a review of my giving plan and whether I met my goals. I create a plan in January of each year and try to stick to it but also hold it loosely because God does bring new opportunities along during the year. Telling others I have an annual Giving Plan that governs my giving helps me to say “no” to other requests.
In my plan, I list the ministries I feel led to give to and how much I plan to give. I also use the plan to remind me of how much I gave last year, and whether I have a multi-year commitment to a ministry or I want to restrict my donation to a specific use. This plan can also include thoughts on giving time or possessions that are no longer needed. We can give our experience, our skills, and our influence.
The plan also notes whether I need to update my due diligence on a ministry. Are they being good stewards, are they efficient and effective, and having the desired impact? Do they have a strong board and a strategic plan? I even do a Google search! Imagine my surprise when I found a news article about one ministry that revealed it had been misleading donors on the use of their money.
I also look at the percentage of my financial blessings during the year that I have given. Sadly, most people only give 1-2%. I make any additional gift into my account at a donor advised fund, such as the National Christian Foundation or Signatry. I am able to enjoy that deduction in the year I make that gift. The money remains in the account until I can make decisions on giving to specific charities when I can carefully and prayerfully consider a gift.
We are all hard-wired to experience joy when we give. In much the same way, God experiences joy as He gives us good things. Living generously is one of the ways we are made in the image of God. Giving generously is one way for us to fulfill our God-given purpose. So what is your next step?