Corporate Giving Lessons from the Widow's Offering
This month in my newsletter, I talked about the importance of integrity and how I deal with the challenging times when it seems easier to cut corners. (If you didn’t get it, sign up for next month’s here.) The current economic outlook gives us another challenge to tackle: if and how much we should be donating to charitable causes. If you’re like me, you desire to be generous as God has been to us. But what does that look like when finances are tight?
As always, we can find the answers in God’s Word.
The Widow’s Offering
The Bible has a lot to say about stewardship of money. 2 Corinthians 9:7 instructs us to give cheerfully and without reluctance. Gratitude and joy are the right attitudes to have when giving back!
And in the gospel of Mark, Jesus’s response to the widow’s offering tells us how God feels about giving, even when times are tough.
And He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.
And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41-44 ESV
Sacrificial gifts are most precious.
The crowd probably overlooked this poor woman. People may have even looked down on her because her gift was so small. However, Jesus saw it as the greatest offering of the day.
When times are tough, it’s tempting to put off giving by telling yourself, “I’ll give more as soon as I start making more.” We assume our income is too small and our little gift won’t do much anyway. However, God sees our hearts, and He is more concerned with our willingness to serve and obey than the amount we offer.
Even more – the widow gave all she had. She gave sacrificially. It’s in difficult times where our faith is tested – days like today when we’re facing inflation and poor market conditions – when God invites us to give anyway. Gifts are most precious when they require sacrifice.
This is true in our individual giving and our corporate donations.
Good stewardship must inform our corporate giving strategies.
We have developed a long-term financial and growth strategy, including our approach to giving. My wife, Tracy, and I decided long ago that, as Christ-followers, we would tithe consistently to our local church, regardless of our income, but that is only the beginning for me. As God blesses us financially, we believe that we must give above and beyond our tithe to help advance the Kingdom worldwide.
Because giving is always a part of our personal and business strategy, even when market conditions are tough, we must always have a giving plan in place.
As a business owner, I am the financial steward responsible for many people, including vendors and employees. My team and I create budgets, are careful to control expenses, and wisely manage all aspects of our finances. We don’t give carelessly without structure and planning. We have created a specific plan for corporate giving and have systems and processes to steward how we give a portion of our net profits.
Responsible giving means doing due diligence.
Once we have decided we have the financial resources to give responsibly, we run any potential recipient through a few filters before determining if and how much to donate.
First, we evaluate the organization's leadership, stability, and strategic plan. We want to know if they are in a place to maximize our gift to meet a specific need.
Secondly, we make sure that this cause is something we are passionate about. To further simplify things, we generally limit our donations to four areas:
○ Local church
○ Equipping the next generation
○ Word of God
○ Marketplace ministry
If we feel drawn toward a specific cause, but it doesn’t fit into one of these areas, we’ll pray about it and discuss it as a team to decide whether to move forward or not.
An essential mindset
There’s one principle that I continually remind myself and our team: everything belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). Consequently, we have a plan and strategy around our giving, and we continue to let the Holy Spirit guide us. Sometimes God will prompt us to give even when it doesn’t fit our strategy or seem responsible to human minds. When this happens, we pray as an executive team and give in agreement. We trust in the Lord, and He has always been faithful.
When we remember we are simply stewards because everything belongs to God, generosity comes more naturally in good times and bad. The widow’s gift wasn’t precious because of the size. It was because it was such a sacrifice and was given cheerfully.
● Do I remember to give thanks for all He has done for my company and me?
● Am I holding on to what is His?