I have always enjoyed giving and believe in tithing as an act of obedience and to help me keep money in proper perspective. It was not until a few years ago that my wife and I created a plan for our giving. Our plan allows us to be more intentional about our giving.
There are many ways to give:
- Take your family to help serve the homeless in a local shelter;
- Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity;
- Go on a missions trip to another country;
- Teach your child to do something;
- Give an encouraging word to someone in need; or
- Give money to a worthy cause.
We faced a few challenges with our giving and serving: when do we have the time and where should we give? Our time was limited between work, a family of six, homeschool, church, friends…and more. As we broke free from debt, we started to have more money available to give above our tithes. Our time was still limited, but we were not sure where to give. We wondered what we could do to be the best stewards possible with our time and money.
The solution for us: be intentional. That has made the difference for us. We ask ourselves four questions related to giving:
- How much now?
- How much later?
We start with where we want to give time and resources. This begins with identifying what is important to us. What are our values? What organizations hold the same values? Do we want to help individuals? With the answers in mind, we search for organizations, causes and people we want to support.
Our giving starts with tithing to our local church. From there, we identify other organizations and causes we like and trust.
A word about due diligence… If you are giving money to an organization, take steps to investigate them to make sure they will steward well any funds you send their way. Ask friends and family. Pray. Check out the media to learn more about their work and what others are saying. If you are considering non-profit ministries, you could check out a site like ministrywatch.com.
Once we know where we want to give. We think about how we want to give. Will we give our time to help a non-profit? Do we want to give anonymously? Do we want to give automatically? Do we want to establish a foundation or donor advised fund?
Here are some ideas from our plan:
- We give anonymously and occasionally help families directly with needs.
- We build money into our monthly spending plan to buy food for a food pantry.
- We serve in our church and participate in missions trips.
- We give to clean water, education and economic development projects.
- We sponsor children in another country.
How Much Now
Whether giving time or resources, we set goals for how much we can give now. We consider our income, expenses and savings goals. Since we have a spending plan, we know how much we have available to give. With that information, we set our goals and decide how much we will give to each area we defined as part of where we give. We build giving into our spending plan and we track our giving to ensure we are on target.
How Much Later
The final element of our financial giving plan is to think about how much we want to give during our lifetime and beyond. This is where we dream BIG and look beyond ourselves. Some of our goals will not happen unless God shows up. We are still working on our vision in this area, but we keep it in view.
- We believe God owns everything (Psalm 24:1) so why shouldn’t we be generous, He is.
- Paying off debts, frees more money to give. Do You Want to be Debt Free?
- We all have more to give than just money.
- Hold the money in your life with an open hand; that is the only way it can come and go freely.
Other Useful Resources
- Do You Like To Give?
- My Strategy For Giving Away Millions, christianpf.com
- Building Generosity Into Your Monthly Budget, by Jason Topp
- How To Create a Charitable Giving Plan, by Jerry Robinson
- Putting The Lord First in Your Finances, by Bob Russell
This is a continuation of the series outlining key elements of our financial plan. Check out the other articles:
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