I have been really blessed to work in philanthropy and elated to share my experiences in my new book, Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy. For years, I had been on the other side asking for money for nonprofits. As Vice President of Community Affairs at the State Fair of Texas and serving as co-founder of HERitage Giving Circle, these two experiences have been impactful and changed my perspective. I am proud to say that in the nearly six years I have been at the Fair, my team and I have been deliberate in changing the narrative of philanthropy. More than 70% of the organizations or programs funded have been led by people of color. This is typically not the case in philanthropy. HERitage is one of the first Black women giving circles in the state of Texas. It has been an honor co-laboring with Akilah Wallace, Dr. Halima Francis and the amazing Black women who donate their funds to help organizations led by Black women. .6% of funding in this country is donated to organizations led by Black women. For communities to thrive, it is going to be important that we do not expect the changes we expect to see to rest solely on nonprofits to solve. It is going to require a vastly different way of thinking that involves listening to those most proximate with the lived experience, collaboration, leveraging our gifts and talents, bringing our social networks to the table, and analyzing the way we give. Giving is not about having power or control—it is about the power of partnering.
As Christians, giving is not an option. We are required to give. Although our time and talent are so important, our treasure (Matthew 6:19-21) in the right context is also necessary. Many of us make a variety of excuses about why we do not give. We typically find fault or have doubts which allows us to absolve our responsibility by blaming others. It is important to make sure that you are sowing into good ground which requires you to do your due diligence if it is not a place that you have a personal relationship with. It is your job to be a good steward of your gift and that requires research and building relationships. Seek out organizations that are not necessarily on the radar or notable but the ones that really need the support, serving those who are marginalized, vulnerable, and are working in under resourced communities with a team and leadership that reflect those communities.
Secondly, it is important to recognize why we give as Believers. If our desire is recognition (Matthew 6:1-4) or a tax write off, we are missing the entire point of why God commands us to give. I think many of us fail to understand the power of giving and what God says about its importance:
· Giving should not be an obligation. It is what we are to do. God honors you when you honor others in your giving. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
· Your willingness to help others will impact your life. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25)
· God gives to us, and everything belongs to God. It is a matter of trusting God’s ability to honor your giving. “Everything in heaven and earth is Yours, O LORD. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. “God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:12-14)
· You cannot talk about God’s love and withhold from others when you see their need. “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)
Want more information on how you can be more effective in your congregation and community? I share many strategies, tools and tips in my latest book entitled, Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy published by Baylor University Press. Visit https://baylorpr.es/EmpChar for details.