Christmas is the season when there is a focus on spreading good will toward men. Many ministries are hoping you will remember to send them a gift as you plan your Christmas giving. In fact, an analysis of the Digital Giving Index found that 31 percent of annual giving occurred in the month of December with 12 percent of annual giving taking place on the last three days of the year, according to Charity Navigator.
This is a huge time for many ministries,” said Melodie Stoligrosz, director of client relations for Ministry Ventures, a coaching organization that helps nonprofits develop the five best practices to be good stewards and run their organizations effectively.
She encourages people to find a way they can be engaged in giving back to nonprofits that are impacting the Kingdom. “Some have the gift of feeding the homeless; some serve as mentors, some commit to be prayer partners and others have the gift of giving,” said Stoligrosz.
Finding your cause
It’s up to you to do your homework and make sure your resources are going to credible good stewards of what God’s given you.
Not sure where to give? Ask yourself, what is the thing God put in your heart that you are passionate about?
“I’m passionate about adoption and foster care because my daughter was adopted,” said Stoligrosz. Others are passionate about getting the word out, so they support evangelical organizations. Or is there something you’ve experienced that you’re drawn to?
If you’ve struggled with a broken marriage, ministries like Living Water Christian Counseling or Live the Life may be of interest. It could be human trafficking, homelessness, the unborn — usually God will put something on your heart.
Who is in your front yard or backyard that you need to be engaged with? If it’s Haiti, you can give to recovery projects there. If it’s Cuba, perhaps it’s Echo Cuba.
Pray and ask for discernment. “I go to a lot of events, but I can’t give to all of them,” said Stoligrosz. She has gotten involved in a giving circle called Strikeforce 421, which pools the resources of a group of women so they can make a bigger impact together.
The bottom line is where has God called you to put your hand in and help? Here are three things you can do to help you determine that:
- Pray. Ask God to give you a passion for a particular thing.
- Determine what is my capacity to give? Then ask God to challenge you on that to go a step further.
- Do your homework. Find out what ministries are doing. Get to know them and who they are.
Some things to consider when supporting a ministry:
Have they completed the Ministry Ventures certification program to establish the five best practices to run a nonprofit? These include developing their ministry model, fundraising plans, board development, administrative freedom and prayer culture. Find out more at ministryventures.org.
Does the charity have a commitment to accountability and transparency? A good indicator of that is a nonprofit’s involvement with financial oversight organization such as the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) or Charity Navigator, which works to guide intelligent giving. Learn more at www.ecfa.org or www.charitynavigator.org.
Is the nonprofit focused on outcome based results? While this may be a little more difficult to evaluate, most reputable charities are prepared for a conversation about their accomplishments, goals and challenges.
“We no longer have a partner base that gives because of a friend who is involved. Now people want to know there are outcome-based results,” said Stoligrosz.
Don’t have time to do the research now, but still want to give? Consider setting aside some of your resources in a giving fund. A Giving Fund, also known as a donor-advised fund, works like a charitable savings account. You can give all types of assets — cash, stocks or real estate — receive an income tax deduction at the time of the donation, then prayerfully decide which charities you’d like to support the next year.
The National Christian Foundation (NCF) offers a donor-advised fund online, as well as other creative solutions at https://southflorida.ncfgiving.com/home.
Regardless of where God is leading you to give of your time, talent or resources, I pray that at Christmas time and always we would experience the joy that comes from giving. “For it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).