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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Enough and no more?

I would just love to see if we can get some healthy discussion going around this topic of Faith and Money and Stuff and Things. Jesus, at one point has this to say: ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ [Matthew 6.33] And people have quoted that hugely out of context for years in terms of trying to show how “all these things” might refer to mansions and boats and trips to Hawaii but if you read it in the context of the passage it is a part of, it becomes very clear that He was talking about basic needs then. If you seek God and His kingdom, then God will take care of your basic needs. I guess one question could be around basic needs because many of us today would include ‘Cellphone, car, personal computer and the internet’ as things we cannot do without. Would Jesus if He were walking around in the flesh today? Secondly, and this is the main question I would love to see some wrestling about [so please come and wrestle with us, but please play nice!] Jesus has this to say: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal....

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Strings-free cash for the poor?

A charity handing out money to the poor, no strings attached? The idea sounds ridiculous. But that is exactly what ‘Give Directly’ is doing in Africa with some surprising results: ‘The 25-year-old carpenter knew nothing of this until he came home one day to find that strangers had given his wife a mobile phone linked to a bank account. Next came a $1,000 windfall, which they were free to spend on whatever they liked. The idea sounds as extraordinary as throwing money out of helicopters. But this programme, and others like it, are part of a shift in thinking about how best to use aid to help the poorest. For decades, it was thought that the poor needed almost everything done for them and that experts knew best what this was.’ But then, from around 2000, a different idea started to emerge and take shape as governments started handing out small stipends to families to spend in whichever way they chose… This article titled, Pennies from Heaven, found in the Economist, details the rest of this journey as well as looking at some of the differences in result between money given with strings attached and that without. What do you think? Is it possible that in our desire to help the poor we have decided that we need to...

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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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of Bono and how Generosity kicks Karma in the butt

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. [Proverbs 11.24-225] The Proverbs speak of the benefits of generosity. Some people will be able to look a this as a bit of a Karma-esque type behaviour – the idea that the good or the bad that you put out comes back to you in some other form later on. This video clip and story that i shared on my personal blog indicate that. But in the well known interview that took place between U2 frontman and all round rock star Bono and journalist Michka Assayas [from the book, ‘Bono: In conversation with Michka Assayas’, a great read] he has this to say, firstly about the importance of love: Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is....

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