Maximizing Generosity Through Alignment

From God’s perspective, giving is a spiritual act. Giv­ing is a reflection of Christ’s generosity, a means of participating in the work of God. But we can easily be distracted in asking others to support our ministries, particularly in a depressed economy when so many are struggling financially. We often become so focused on monetary goals that we miss the work God is doing. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that the ideal environment to maximize generosity is the alignment of three callings:

  1. the call of the asker to the ministry asking for funds,

  2. the call of the organization to the mission and purpose it is fulfilling, and
  3. the call of ministry partners (givers) to distribute God’s resources to facilitate the ministry’s mission.

In the ideal world of God’s economy, these three callings are aligned, God is glorified and generosity is maximized. The goal of those who ask is first to be sensitive and discern these callings, and second to match the callings of the organization and giver, effectively drawing together what and who God has provided.

Everyone has a calling. God calls individuals and groups of individuals to particular tasks. God works both supernaturally and naturally though His people, using their particular gifts and activities to further the work of His Kingdom. For some, God’s call is very specific; for others it is a more general path. Either way, God’s call directs His people toward what He wants them to do.

God calls us through our gifts, talents, and life circumstances. God guides us through every circumstance of our lives, sometimes dramatically, sometimes quietly. In his book The Call, Os Guinness writes, “Giftedness does not stand alone in helping us discern our callings. It lines up in response to God’s call alongside other factors, such as family heritage, our own life opportunities, God’s guidance, and our unquestioning readiness to do what He shows.” God’s call isn’t always manifested in the same manner, but when we receive it, our best option is to follow it.

  • The asker: called to ask. The primary role of a Christian fundraiser is to advance and facilitate a believer’s faith in and worship of God, which results in generosity. When fundraising is understood this way, it is no longer merely a job or a duty, but an extension of God’ eternal kingdom work and a ministry to which God calls those who ask.

After receiving this call to ask, the asker is responsible to communicate the God-given vision to God’s people and invite them to be involved. Often askers rely on their ability to persuade or even manipulate givers into supporting a vision. But when askers instead rely on God to call givers, the results are enduring. Instead of persuasion, their job becomes one of recognizing the alignment between God’s calling an organization to an eternal kingdom purpose, and God’s similar calling a giver to support that purpose. The asker relies upon the Holy Spirit’s work, rather than his or her own charisma, charm, and shiny bro­chures. The asker communicates the vision and purpose, and the Holy Spirit transforms people’s hearts to grow rich toward God, guiding them to invest generously in alignment with God’s calling.

  • The organization: called to serve specifically. God calls Chris­tian organizations to fulfill specific ministry needs in the world. Often this calling is expressed in the organization’s mission, vision, and values statements. Not every Chris­tian organization is called to minister to the same group of people. Paul describes this in Galatians 2:7: “I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised.” The book The Prospering Parachurch contains a taxonomy showing the wide range of ministry opportunities. This variety of callings results in a plethora of opportunities for God’s people.

It is important to remember that God does not make value judgments based on the different callings of organizations. When the focus of fundraising efforts is on raising up stewards who are rich toward God and called to a particular ministry, then there is no fear of competition in aligning stewards with ministries other than your own. What is important is discerning God’s call, and then following Him. The primary goal becomes aligning givers with the ministry giving opportunities to which they are called rather than merely gaining donors for your own organization.

  • The giver: called to support aspects of God’s work. Though His personal relationship with them, God places burdens on givers’ hearts, sparks their interest in a vision and gives them the opportunity to invest strategically in His kingdom. Os Guinness defines calling as something that God initiates “so that everything we are, everything we do, everything we have is invested in response to His summons and service.”  

The investments we make in light of our gifting and calling will continue right into eternity, into life beyond our existence on earth. To both the person asking and the person giving to an organization’s ministry, this gives a feeling of destiny.

The reality of God’s calling answers the ultimate question of “Why?”  For those asking, calling plugs them into the eternal purposes of God. For those giving, calling gives a sense of investment in God’s kingdom. They do not give of their own volition, but in response to the call of God—and in this act of obedience, we can hear the voice of the Master saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).

In writing to the Philippians regarding their gift to him, Paul says, “not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit” (Phil. 4:17). Paul is not worried about a monetary transaction for his support; he has “learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:12). Rather, he is concerned with the good of the Philippians; he desires blessing for those who have given to him. It is these eternal rewards that he desires for the Philippians. This is the attitude of a person God has called to ask. When givers, askers, and organizations submit to God’s call, generosity is maximized. Then great things are accomplished individually and corporately in the present world that result in eternal rewards.  

Lauren Libby is international president of Trans World Radio and has served as an ECFA board member.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.