Saturday, December 01, 2007

Year-End Giving: Guidelines for Investing Wisely

A couple recent conversations have spurred my interest in considering how Christians should think about giving to Christian causes or ministries. This conversation assumes that we're giving faithfully, which I understand to mean sacrificially, regularly, and willingly, to the work of our own local church.

Here's what I've come up with so far:
  1. Theological health of the organization. Obviously, it's difficult for me to imagine giving a dime to an organization with which I don't have a pretty high level of theological affinity, and a similarly high level of agreement with the application of that theology.
  2. Proven record of wise stewardship of resources and productive use of them. Here I'm thinking of one particular organization, to which I've never yet donated myself, that consistently launches worthwhile initiatives and works to make resources available for free or at a very affordable cost.
  3. Stability of leadership. Is there constant turnover? Does the leadership model and implement within the organization the theology and philosophy of ministry the organization is seeking to advance?
  4. Strategic nature of the ministry. Is this organization doing something no one else is doing? Is its work hitting at core issues or symptoms of deeper problems? Is the ministry gospel-centered?
  5. Personal relationships. All other things being equal, I think there's value in giving to people you know to encourage their work and develop deeper opportunities for partnership.
This is just the product of maybe a half hour of thinking. I'm sure there are things I've missed. I'm really curious to hear how the rest of you have thought through these questions, and I suspect I'll benefit from your wisdom.


Jim Peet said...

While churches are not required (by law / IRS) to submit a 990 form, other non-profits are.

Sign up (free) for and check the 990 before you give.

One's local church (the first place to give), should provide detailed audited financial statements for its members!

Jim Peet said...

Other giving / investing ideas:
* One's local Christian crisis pregnancy center - serving to save babies from abortion and taking the gospel to women during a vulnerable time in their lives
* Local food bank / inter-city mission.
* Give your Pastor / Pastor's family a gift.
* Some to spare .... give it to a political campaign. Not tax deductible but some consider this worthy