Philanthropy

After almost two years of quiet “pandemic worthy” Christmases, we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and (knock on wood) it’s not a train.

Even Pope Francis is getting into the Christmas spirit with a contest that inspires young people to create new songs inspired by Christmas and its values. When asked what he hoped to achieve, the Pope said that music is “not alienating; it is neither superficial nor escapist. It broadens the heart, opens it to gratuitousness…” 

Fifty-six years ago, Pope St. Paul VI offered a similar message:

“This world in which we live needs beauty so as not to fall into despair.”

This Christmas, we wish you the beauty of giving back. We encourage ourselves, our families, our friends, colleagues and clients to set your sights on social causes that are in tune your own values, and to encourage others to do so as well.

A great way to give back is through philanthropy. If you think philanthropy is only for the rich and powerful, you’d be wrong. Philanthropy is something that anyone can do. All it takes is having the desire to promote the welfare of others and then achieving it by generously donating money to a good cause. 

There’s a difference between philanthropy and charity. For example, an act of charity is when you spot a homeless person on the street and give him five dollars. Philanthropy focuses on helping that homeless person solve the problems that required them to ask for a handout in the first place. Both are good. 

Philanthropy is long-term and strategic; it often involves making multiple gifts to help people over a number of years. As someone once said:

Delivering bottled water to a drought-stricken village in East Africa is charity, but philanthropy is building a well.

Our job at the Stewardship Foundation is to be good stewards with our donors’ money, and our skills as charitable gift consultants in a public foundation is proven. Please pass this along to a friend that may be interested in our services, and have a beautiful, quiet, spirit-filled, rich-in-spirit Christmas!

How the Pandemic Changed Charitable Giving

An elderly gentleman friend of mine is a faithful churchgoer. I happened to run into him recently (not literally of course, we were both out walking and wearing our face masks). He mentioned that he was feeling a bit guilty because he was not placing an offering in the basket at church each week. In fact, he hadn’t attended church since before Easter due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

I mentioned that his church may have an online platform to receive donations. He replied that he not only didn’t know whether it did — he didn’t even know whether his church had a website! “Let’s see,” I said, taking my cellphone from my pocket. His church did have a website, and did take donations online. 

“Oh my,” he continued. “I’ll have to have my grandson come over and help me make my usual donation. I might not be going to church, but the work of the church continues even with this virus. In fact, they may need my stewardship now more than ever!” 

We parted ways, but it left me thinking. What about our church families who may have lost their jobs, or have had extra medical expenses? Who is helping them? How many individuals and families quit giving because they quit going? Who is making the excuse that giving online is too difficult or not safe? 

What I found was heartening. It says a lot about Americans that, according to a study by Fidelity Charitable, most donors are maintaining — or even increasing — charitable giving during Covid.

According to the survey:

  • Volunteer hours decreased as people were urged to to stay home.
  • Most donors are worried about nonprofits’ ability to operate during these times.
  • Donors are likely to continue giving, especially to the same organizations.

The same study mentions that Donor-Advised Fund donors are taking COVID-19 into account in their giving, and most are staying the course and trusting their fund managers to make good choices during this pandemic period.

We find that people long for ways to connect with others during the pandemic. It’s a human motivation that is serving our national interests while making us feel better about ourselves. God “is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow” [Heb 13:8] and His work is never-ending. And it seems that both donors and DAF managers are walking in His footsteps.