5 Keys to Unlocking Your Giving Potential

I read an article recently that stated that charitable giving is on the rise. Good news, right? The fact remains, however, that the average family in America gives only about 2-2.5% of their income to charitable causes. There are many reasons that contribute to this extremely low number, most of which point back to an issue of the heart.

There are ways to overcome obstacles to giving and begin impacting the world around you for the better. Here are 5 things for you to think about:

1. Think like a manager

The Bible has a lot to say about how we manage our money and possessions. Acknowledging that “God owns it all” (Deut. 10:14, Psalm 50:10, Psalm 50:12, Haggai 2:8, 1 Chron. 29:11), and we are merely managers of the resources he has chosen to bless us with will make us rethink the way we handle our money. No manager will keep his job for long if he is self-serving and cannot be trusted to handle the resources of the owner the way the owner sees fit. By changing our mindset about ‘our wealth’, we can begin to seek God’s will for His wealth so one day we might hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:21)

2. Avoid the use of debt

One of the biggest obstacles to empowering people to give more freely is their obligation to repay the debt they’ve accumulated. The average household in America has over $10,000 of credit card debt. Also, many families are burdened with car loans, student loans and mortgages that can stretch their debt-to-income ratio to 40% or more! Eliminating this debt can free up an extraordinary amount of income to fund your long-term goals and allow you to make an impact through giving generously.

3. Define your passions

Think about the causes you really care about. If you had an undetermined amount of money that showed up on your doorstep, and you had to give it away, where would you send it? Perhaps you have a heart for the 143+ million orphaned children worldwide. Or maybe for you it’s the homeless individuals or inner-city youth in your own community who tug at your heartstrings. There are now over 1.5 million non-profit organizations which are striving to make a difference. Once you’ve defined your passions and know where you would like to make an impact, you can seek out the right organizations to partner with to further their mission. Defining your passions helps to create meaning and purpose for your giving and inspires future giving.

4. Have a plan

Take the time to develop a financial plan, either on your own or with the help of a financial professional. Your financial plan will address your family’s financial situation and give you clarity on what it will take to accomplish your goals for the future. It also becomes a roadmap for how to utilize your financial resources. Many families choose not to give because they feel they simply cannot afford to. Your financial plan will address these issues and free you from worry of the unknown. Once you know that your family is taken care of, you can focus on making a positive impact in the world around you without fear of short-changing your own future.

5. Be intentional

this, to me, is probably the most important key to unlocking your giving potential. Without intentionality, we are likely never to implement the practice of giving generously. To be intentional about your giving is to have a clear understanding of why you are giving and what impact you are hoping to achieve with your giving. Getting involved with the charities you have decided to support financially, and witnessing the positive difference your partnership with them is making, can be an inspiring and life-changing experience. It is difficult to describe the impact of seeing your donated resources at work in the kingdom.

These are just a few ideas to help you along your giving journey. Feel free to post in the comment section below if you have any other thoughts that might help others take the next step toward giving generously.

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