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Myths of Generosity: I Can’t Control My Generosity Impact, So I Shouldn’t Give

Nicklaus Bartelli

Nicklaus Bartelli

May 20, 2022

You may have heard someone say, “I can’t give a gift to that person, they’ll just waste it on something frivolous.” When it comes to charitable organizations, many people have a similar attitude; they don’t want to put their money in a place where they may not see a return.

A 2021 study by the Better Business Bureau Wide Giving Alliance found that only 18% of Americans place high trust in charities. While you may not be alone in wondering whether your generosity will be effective, how might you overcome doubts and worries about efficient giving?

Intentional Giving

A third of Americans say they have given in the checkout line, and a fourth say they have given to a solicitor. While these are kind and generous acts, for most people they are probably not a good substitute for planned, intentional gifts. One fourth of Americans give $99 or less per year. That suggests there is a large group of people only experienced in casual generosity. Small, sporadic gifts are usually not the best way to feel confident that the receiving organization will use your donation effectively.

Source: 2019 study conducted by YouGovAmerica

When you decide to give, the Bible tells us that our heart should agree with our actions. We should not give under pressure, but cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). Giving to a nonprofit is starting a partnership with them to solve a problem. It is not a waste of valuable time to research and understand a nonprofit before you give. Do your homework, establish a relationship with a representative of the nonprofit, and monitor their impact reports.

Adapting a mindset that giving is a partnership and an investment to solve a problem helps build intentionality in generosity. This is sound stewardship of God’s blessings and provides a framework for answering many of the questions associated with giving to large nonprofits.

Eternal Generosity

Even with well-known, successful organizations, some are reluctant to part with their time, money, or resources at all. Giving can feel uncomfortable; keeping an eternal perspective can help. Ask yourself, “Is holding on to my money furthering the Kingdom of God?”

In Jesus’s parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the master praised the two servants who invested the talents he had entrusted to them and made a profit. But the servant who buried his talent, doing nothing to increase its value, was rewarded nothing. Jesus invites us to be participants in His ministry, not to sit back and wait idly for His return. A wise and faithful steward will invest in what their master gives them, holding to the promise of return. As Christians, we are called to care for the poor, the prisoner, and the sick and to spread the gospel so that others may experience God’s love.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
Hebrews 6:10, NIV

Use a DAF, Channel Intentional Giving

One way to practice intentional generosity is by opening a donor advised fund (DAF) at The Signatry. You can join a faith-based community committed to many of the same Kingdom-oriented causes that you care about. You can build a charitable fund in your family’s name, work with our team to identify grant recipients, grow the fund through biblically responsible investments, and keep track of your giving all in one place. To learn more about donor advised funds, visit our start page.

Challenge Yourself

When you join in a nonprofit’s mission and get to watch the impact of generosity in real-time, you begin to see all your resources as opportunities. Things like time, praise, and trust become tools of biblical generosity.

Whether you are giving to the solicitor in the parking lot because the Spirit compels you or writing a check to a nonprofit partner, pray over the resources you give and trust your investment in God’s Kingdom.

“Freely you have received; freely give.” — Matthew 10:8b, NIV

Visit other Myths of Generosity:

I Need All the Right Character Traits to be Generous

I am Not Wealthy Enough to Give

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About Nicklaus Bartelli

Nicklaus Bartelli

As the Marketing Engagement Specialist at The Signatry, Nicklaus serves donors and families to make their generosity journeys thrive through educational experiences. He is a documentary filmmaker and storyteller, sharing God’s love through global media.

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