Yesterday, Tuesday Nov. 30th, was #GivingTuesday. I participated in a panel discussion for my alma mater, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (i.e. The Mothership). You can watch it here,
What does this have to do with biking and pastoring? Well, it's quite easy. You see, because we only have one car, we do not have the extra expenses of $9,282.35 if you own a new car or $3,483 if you have your car paid off. (I have an entire chapter on this in my book). Therefore, even though we have two kids in college and modest salaries, we do have some capacity to give to organizations we care deeply about.
I would like to be able to give more, but that is not possible at the moment. If not for a plea by Rev. Clay Smith at the Hinton Center a number of years ago I might have not started giving at the level I do. Clay urged us to give to the Hinton Center and if we were short on cash then give just $1. He said a $1 pledge is a big gift because when non-profits apply for grants or loans or participate in projects the more "pledge/giving units" they have, the better their chances. So I started giving $1 to many organizations.
What surprised me the most, however, was how many organizations never followed up with my gift. Not only did they never acknowledge my gift, they never thanked me, and never asked me to give more.
So I, largely, stopped giving beyond the church and the mothership. Then I had coffee with J. Ron Byler (former Executive Director of the Mennonite Central Committee), he told me about an experiment he conducted one November, to withdraw $50 bills on Nov. 1 and give them away to everyone who asked until Nov. 30. I thought it was an amazing experiment. I tried it too, only not with $50.
Three years ago I said I would give $20 to any organization that sent me a request for funding. To my surprise I did not receive that many requests. But I thought for sure the second year I would be inundated with requests. I thought for sure I would be put on some "this sucker will give you money list." Nope. The second year only three organizations asked for repeat giving. Third year, only two organization asked for a repeat gift.
This baffles my mind, but I should've seen it coming. I have served on the boards of several non-profits. And fund raising/development is always a part of my work as a board member. And I have sat in meetings where development officers say, "Only follow up with those who give $100 or above. If you spend time and resources on those who give less than $100, you are wasting your time and resources."
The one organization who goes against this line of thinking: Habitat for Humanity. I receive a mailing every other month from them: some ask for money, others tell the story of how my gift is transforming lives. It's quite a remarkable scheme. Each year I have increased my gift to them.
If you are able, ride a bike, save your money, pay off your debt, then start investing in your community.