Today we start a month-long series on philanthropy. The word “philanthropy” comes from two Greek words meaning love and human beings. So, philanthropy is a way we show our love for our fellow human beings by sharing our material resources for the common good.
Philanthropy is related to stewardship. As Christian stewards, we receive everything we have with gratitude, as the gift of a loving God. In gratitude, we then care for and nurture these gifts, giving generously to support those in need.
Being a good steward isn’t just about using money wisely. We are called to steward our time, treasure, and talents, receiving them gratefully and sharing them generously. What you are able to share will depend on your present condition. For example, if you are providing care for small children or sick family members, you may not be able to offer much time or money, but you may be able to offer the fruits of your talents (maybe doubling a recipe to offer dinner to someone in need or sending cookies for the bake sale). Your work may require last-minute travel, making monetary donations your best option. Only you can decide what will work for you.
But you should decide how you will share you time, treasure, and talent – and how much of each. The traditional tithe is 10% of income. That may be beyond your means. But you can set a target for how much you’d like to contribute and set that money aside during the year. You can do the same with contributions of time and talent. For example, you may decide to offer your assistance to two community or church groups or to dedicate five hours a month to volunteer activity.
Giving yourself a goal doesn’t mean that you can’t do more (if time or money becomes available) or less (if your circumstances change). What it does is make your giving an intentional part of your life rather than something you do when you think of it or when someone asks. Intentionality increases the likelihood that you will do what you set out to do.
The rest of this month’s blogs will focus primarily on the mechanics of planning financial contributions, but I wanted to set the table by looking at the big picture.