How often have you heard the question, “Will you sponsor me?” I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, from a family member, a colleague or someone in your church. For many charitable organizations, organizing events in which their supporters can actively participate is a wonderful way to raise funds, get people engaged and create awareness of their causes.
However, there are occasions when I feel bombarded by these requests for generosity. To ease this, I now set aside funds each year to support my adventurous family and friends who are willing to run a marathon, climb Kilimanjaro, grow a beard or pour a bucket of ice water over their heads for a cause that’s important to them.
I want to be generous. And, more importantly, I want to be a good steward of God’s gifts. Because God is generous, he invites us to share.
The invitation to give often causes me to reflect on the charities I support: Why did I choose them? What would I be willing to do for them or what do I know about them?
Ray, a family friend, started his locally run charity 30 years ago. Before starting it, he maintained a public image of a successful businessman, while privately his life was one of frustration and alcoholism. At the age of 35, Ray’s life was turned around when he decided to follow Jesus. He immediately began working with the homeless, prostitutes, those addicted to drugs and alcohol, and those struggling with mental illness. He opened a coffeehouse, which still operates today, and this led to opening care homes and a residential addiction treatment program.
I’ve supported Ray for many years because his personal story of transformation and helping others resonates with me. Although he is now retired and has passed the torch to new leaders, I remain connected and involved by consistently reviewing the effectiveness and impact of the charity. This is one of many reasons why people give; they want to see that their donations and support are effecting change.
Selecting which charity or cause to support ultimately boils down to this: What are you most passionate about? What matters to you? Your preferences may range from giving to your local church, a national or international cause, medical research, or even a centre for learning, a community group or local charity.
Perhaps you’re already giving to your local church or another charity, and you’re wondering how you could make a greater impact or be more strategic in your giving.
Rebecca Riccio, a university professor, developed an online course called Giving With Purpose. To help people donate more effectively, she invented the RISE framework. RISE stands for:
- Relevance: How well does the charity understand the needs it’s addressing and know what works in response to the need? How connected is it to the community it’s serving?
- Impact: Does the charity hold itself accountable? Will supporting this charity allow you to make a difference with your resources?
- Sustainability: Does the charity have reliable revenue sources, and how effectively does it manage its money?
- Excellence in management and operations: How well-qualified are the executive director and board members?
Whatever charities you choose to support, gathering relevant information about them will help you determine to what degree you want to get involved.
It is a personal journey to discover what causes you and your family are most passionate about.
Pamela Miles is the director of gift planning at Abundance Canada. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, call 1-800-772-3257 or visit abundance.ca