How do I judge my Charity?

In a world with so much suffering, so much pain, and so much grief, it is easy to become overwhelmed. But some folks push through.  They push through the paralysis of panic, and look for ways to help their fellow man.  You’ve been tempted with this phenomena.  You may not realize it, but you have been.  How do I know?  Because you’ve seen the panhandler with outstretched fist asking for spare change.  You’ve seen the TV ad explaining how you can feed a child for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.  You’ve watched someone you know, or heard the story of a friend of a friend that was in need of money. This post is not about the reality of whether you ‘gave’ or not.  (Personally, I hope you were compelled to ‘give’). But rather this post is about the more metaphysical question of whether you ‘should give’ or not. Did you know that giving can hurt?  Have you ever read the stories of individuals and communities who suffered greatly because of good intentions, but misdirected actions?  If you haven’t, I’d suggest that you check out either: (1) When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert or (2) Toxic Charity by Lupton.  Both should be available from your neighborhood Christian bookstore. Surprised to hear that ‘Christian’ authors...

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Girls Giving Grants demonstrates the viability of a Common Change type system…

  It is so exciting to go online and discover an article like this one which highlights the group Girls Giving Grants, who,  as the name implies, are a group of girls [52 to be precise] who pool their money [$100] and then offer a selection of grants to ‘an organization [that] must be a tax-exempt charity with a program improving the lives of young people in Travis, Hays, Bastrop or Williamson counties.’   The idea is based on the premise that: One girl with $100 may not make much of a difference. But 52 girls with $5,200 can. Which is an exact modeling of what our non-profit organisation, Common Change, does in terms of creating the platform for you and a group of friends [whether girls or not]. The realisation that we can achieve more [and affect more] together than we can do on our own. And also the idea that it feel so much more life-giving to do this kind of thing with a group of people than by myself. Earlier this year, the girls selected Easter Seals Central Texas as their 2013 grant award recipient. The money helped provide speech, occupational and physical therapies as well as audiology services for eight disabled children. It is really that simple – gather a group of friends, start donating...

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Buying your audience into your faith community.

So this is a bit of a different type of article than what we normally share here. And I am not even going to be referencing the whole article that Shane Blackshear crafted under the topic of ‘3 Ways to know that you might have made Evangelism an Idol’ although it is specifically his first of the three points that I am wanting us to dig a bit deeper into:   1. Evangelism is the end that justify the means. Shane writes, ‘Once while at a collegiate conference the worship session began and with that came lasers and smoke. My friend standing next to me leaned over and said “How did the early church worship without lasers and smoke?!” Good question. If you ask people from churches with this type worship model about why they spend money on things like lasers, fog machines, and state of the art stage lighting, many will point to evangelism and one way or another. Many have mission statements that they can point to that say they exist to attract people to Christ, therefor if a professional rock show is what it takes, so be it. Evangelistic opportunities have become the spiritual tax write off of evangelicals. Have an event, any event, present “the Gospel” at said event, and turn any trip to Six Flags...

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Put your money where your mouth, um vision, is.

Mark Scandrette is a good friend of ours at Common Change, so much so that he added a link to our non-profit collaborative giving tool at the end of his latest book ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on What Matters Most’ as what we help people do falls in line with a lot of what he is suggesting. In this article by Tony Jones, Tony compares him to an emergent version of Dave Ramsey, starting with a nail-on-the-head description of Mark: ‘Mark is an uncommonly honest person. In fact, chances are that within 5 minutes of a conversation, Mark will ask you something rather intimate about one of two little-discussed topics: sex or money. And he won’t break eye contact until you answer him.’ And continuing with a description of how Mark is open and candid about both of those topics in his own life. I had a walk through part of San Francisco with Mark just the other day and the majority of our conversation focused on money and how we can use it in our lives rather than the other way around. It is something he has lived out and so he definitely has a lot to offer in terms of speaking wisdom into other peoples’ lives. The article is a simple overview look at the book...

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The McBudget, and our distance from poverty

As you have quite well already heard, in response to the recent protests by their workers in favor of a higher wage McDonald’s released a “Practical Money Skills: Budget Journal” for use by their employees. The budget journal has the intended purpose of educating their employees on how to live within the means provided by a normal fast food worker’s wage, and no doubt was also intended to dampen support for the protests by showing that doing so was possible. Despite what side of the political spectrum commentators have been on regarding the protests, one reaction to the budget has been nearly unanimous: it is ridiculously unrealistic. As just some examples – the income side of the equation assumes two jobs that either a) earn significantly more than fast food workers make or b) requires a 70 hour work week, while the expenses side assumes a $20 a month health insurance plan and doesn’t even contain categories for food, clothing, childcare and others. Numerous groups and individuals have pointed out the problem with the budget, from Time magazine to Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald, with the latter calling the sample budget “an insult to those living in poverty.” As I reflect on the issues of poverty, one thing that I am constantly reminded of is the distance...

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