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Giving Gone Wrong

by Connie Hougland  |  September 14, 2017

For someone who is a huge proponent of giving and actually even makes a living based on it—it probably seems a little weird that I would be writing about ‘giving gone wrong.’

We all have those golden rules that we operate from. I’m not talking about the 10 Commandments—those are a given. But those personal rules we set in place for ourselves to make sure we don’t make a fool of ourselves—like don’t answer your phone in the bathroom. It’s funny, when we break those rules it reminds us why we have those rules to begin with. (Yes, I have a bathroom story, but that’s a blog for a different day!)

One of my giving golden rules when giving to organizations is not to give to desperation or in isolation.

As someone who meets with a lot of ministries, I’ve learned that I have to set boundaries. When I feel personally drawn to a ministry from a giving standpoint, I take the information home and share it with my family. From there we pray over it and decide as a family if/how much we want to give from our family Giving Fund.

Some time back I broke that golden rule. I met with a ministry leader who told me the drastic desperation their ministry was in. Literally, they were looking at not making payroll that week. After the meeting I went straight to my desk, logged in to our family Giving Fund and requested a grant be sent to the ministry.

I sat back, patted myself on the back and exhaled great feelings of personal pride. I was literally smug with delight. I envisioned how the leader would receive this gift—they would open the envelope in great anticipation, proceed to do a little thanksgiving dance and then relish in the feeling of “Wow, what a great person that Connie is—what a star!”

As I reflect on it now, I realize my motives were not what they should have been. I was in hero mode. I wanted to be the hero of the story, the one who saved the day with my gift. I didn’t pray about it. I didn’t share it with my family. I didn’t give because I greatly cared about the cause. I gave because I wanted to be, dare I say, the savior. I wanted the accolades and praise.

Honestly, I don’t even know if my giving made a difference to the ministry. I never heard one word from the ministry. Nothing, nada, zero. I am reminded that giving is not designed to make me the hero of the story but an opportunity for God to engage my heart in a cause. He wants my giving to be about my transformation, my spiritual growth and my dependency in Him.

How about you? When it comes to your fundraising, what’s your message? Are you presenting a a message of desperation that says ‘save me, save me’? Or are you presenting a compelling vision and an invitation to be a part of something bigger, something that will bring transformation for all involved?

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