‘Tis the (Giving) Season

There is no shortage of giving opportunities in December.  The hard part is saying “no.”  Yesterday I received a request for a donation from a friend of 40 years for a wonderful cause.  I believe it is very worthy of support and hope the organization meets its goal; but I’ve got to decide how to tell my friend “no.”  I imagine you face the same problem – especially this month.  Every store has a red kettle, every charity has a year-end goal to meet, every kid has some gift wrap or popcorn to sell, and every Sunday brings a new backpack or box to fill.  (I guess it wouldn’t be the “giving” season if it wasn’t also the “asking” season.)  As I considered the latest “ask” I thought of these tips that might help us with the hard part.

Tip 1: We can’t say yes to everything.  Nobody can.  I suppose Bill Gates and Warren Buffett can do a lot more than you or I, but even they have to say “no” a lot.  Many of us are reactive givers.  We give when someone asks, maybe just to be nice.  We buy the cookie dough or pledge $10 to a bowl-a-thon for charity and probably never miss those dollars.  That’s OK if you’ve got enough spare change, but even those gifts add up.  It is perfectly all right to say “no” sometimes.

Tip 2:  Instead of reactive giving, consider thoughtful and proactive giving.  Pick one particular cause (or more) that you really have an interest in and learn more about what they really do.  Understand what your money is doing.  Get involved, volunteer, see first-hand what good is being done.  At Northside we have two major giving opportunities each year beyond our regular budgeted needs.  Each Spring the Missions Oversight Team explains exactly where the funds for missions are used, and each Fall we are updated on the work of our Know Your Bible television ministry.  The more you know about any cause, the better you understand why you can say “yes” to this one.  (This tip is how I can tell my friend “no” more easily.  “While it’s a worthy cause, Cindy and I have four others that we are involved in and have built our giving plan around.”)  Be a proactive giver.

Tip 3:  Consider the long-term effects of your giving.  Matthew 6:19-21 (that “treasures in heaven” verse) seems to indicate that Kingdom giving would be better than Earthly giving.  I like dogs.  But when I see an obituary with the memorials designated to the Humane Society I shake my head for a while.  We all have different interests, but a Christian ought to follow Jesus’ investment advice.  Giving to political, humanitarian, or educational causes is fine, but a Christian should ask, “Is this putting any treasures in heaven?”

There is no shortage of giving opportunities.  While we ought to want to say “yes” as often as possible, these three tips make it prudent and easier to say “no” also.