Why I Donate to People, Not Charities
People are always asking me how they should distribute their tithe. It’s a pretty natural question: do I give everything to my church or do I distribute it among a couple different organizations? This is a question I love to hear because it means the person is already committed to tithing. It also means something has stirred in their spirit and they sense a specific purpose in their giving.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but there is one particular model that I personally employ with great satisfaction. The simple model goes something like this: give to your church and then invest in problems.
The giving to your church part is pretty straightforward. I tithe 10% of my income to my church. It’s a variable number because I have a variety of income sources, so I just give 10% through an online portal any time I get paid for something. I love giving to my church (Destiny Church in St Louis) because I know they are doing everything they can to mobilize resources for the Gospel. If you aren’t comfortable giving to your church over doubts about how the money is allocated; give anyway or change churches. Your responsibility is simply to give, not to judge what is done with that gift.
Investing in problems is in addition to my standard 10%. It’s also where I find the most satisfaction and direct impact. I don’t give to big organizations with the exception of Prison Fellowship at Christmas. It’s not that big organizations are evil. They need the money and most of them do great things for the world. But my couple bucks aren’t really going to make an impact because Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are donating hundreds of billions of dollars to some pretty important issues.
Instead, I invest in little problems. Real problems experienced by real people right in my own backyard. Problems where a little bit of money can make a significant impact right away. I follow the local news and donate directly to unfortunate situations; maybe a house burned down and a family needs a place to stay, a parent dies and the family is left without a breadwinner, or someone can’t pay their medical bills. Even more I’ll pay for someone’s gas at the gas station, pick up a grocery tab, or pay for a young couple’s haircut when their screaming child is making a scene at Cost Cutters.
It’s the really little things that consistently prove to have the biggest impact. A couple bucks in the gas tank or a few groceries always leave people completely humbled and blessed, far more than I could ever accomplish in any other ministry. It is a direct re-presentation of the Gospel that brings people love and hope. Today I’m challenging you to do something small. Invest in a little problem: buy someone’s meal, fill up a gas tank, or drop off some groceries to a single mother.
Let Bill Gates save the world. You can save a life. – James Altucher
Photo Credit: Hamed Saber (via Flickr)