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Answering the Call: Ben Bell’s Passion for Serving Ministries

1 year ago By Ben Bell

Prior to joining The Signatry, I was never in a full-time vocational ministry role, although I could consider full-time vocational ministry as “the family business.” My dad’s parents were medical missionaries in China, my dad was a pastor, one uncle was an evangelist, and another aunt and uncle were Korean missionaries. I have several cousins and second cousins who have founded and operate ministries on a full-time basis. Despite several opportunities over the years to move into a full-time vocational ministry role, usually as their COO or CFO, since that was my training and skillset, I never felt called to full-time ministry. I considered myself “in ministry,” but not in a vocational way. I knew my calling was in the secular business world as a Christian witness, and I have always thought being a Christian witness in the secular business world was and is a very noble calling. How were you introduced to The Signatry? In 2018, I got the call to full-time vocational ministry at The Signatry. It followed a long period of soul-searching, reaching out to friends, and seeking the Lord’s guidance before I had ever heard about The Signatry. This period of seeking the Lord extended through my discernment process. I was not seeking to leave the business world. In terms of analyzing the opportunity at The Signatry, I wondered whether I’d enjoy it and if I would be any good at it. It was entirely different from my daily routine, experience, and skillset, so naturally, I had questions. But then the Lord told me to join The Signatry in the clearest way possible – that is all I needed, and all my analysis stopped. I joined the team three weeks later.

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The Uncertain Future of Giving

2 years ago By Bill High

What do you think of the future of charitable giving? The July 2018 Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on the Giving USA annual report for 2017. There, they noted the rise to $410 billion of charitable giving. But their headline speaks of the doubt behind those numbers: Giving Grows for the Fourth Straight Year, but is the Future of Philanthropy Bright? While there is much to celebrate, the Chronicle notes: “…the data reveals some worrying trends.” The article itself didn’t go out of its way to point out those trends in a dramatic way. But here’s the point. Giving by individuals grew modestly. Giving by individuals grew just 3% and bequests by only 1%. To draw out the point, the decline in giving by the War Generations is a reality. At one point, those generations were the backbone of giving, and while the Boomer Generation appears to be following with a similar giving pattern, subsequent generations don’t seem to hold the same promise. The Millennials, for instance, are the least churched generation our country has had. Typically, church attendance is the biggest single predictor of giving. Many of these points were drawn out in Charity Shock: Ten Critical Trends Revolutionizing the Fundraising Industry (2018). Layer on tax law changes, economic and market uncertainty and global trade wars and the situation is ripe for a significant giving downturn. The Chronicle aptly notes: “Pursuing wealthy donors is a matter of survival in a time when fewer people are giving. And big donations seem to be driving growth at many nonprofits…” Additionally, the Chronicle notes “Charities should get serious about seeking planned gifts, given that a huge transfer of wealth is projected over the next decade.” Stated differently, I believe we’ll see a decline of the middle market giver. The middle market giver has often made up the backbone of the budget for many nonprofits. On the other hand, there will be an increasing reliance on the major donor and upon planned gifts. For those ministries who don’t play well in those spaces, they may well face serious declines.

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