We believe… in transformational giving.

Psalm 24:1 tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” 

Last month we looked back on the Fifth Credo of the Stewardship Foundation — belief in the sanctity of human life, marriage between one man and one woman, sexual morality, religious freedom, and the rights of conscience. Our June message focused on the moral liberalism rampant in today’s society and in the press’s coverage of events. If you missed it, read it here.

This month we return to our First Credo, transformational giving. The one guiding question that permeates our thinking at the Stewardship Foundation is “where is your heart?” Within this question several others beg to be asked, such as, “what is the treasure you seek?”; “how much wealth is enough for you and your family?” and, “what does God expect of you?”

We encourage our clients to examine their giving motives, to more deeply explore where their hearts are leading them. It’s been said that what motivates us is revealed when we examine how we spend our time, and where we spend our money. Our purpose is to help connect our clients with the worthy charities and nonprofits that advance these passions and individual motivations.

Stewardship is a theological belief that humans are responsible for the world and should take care and look after it; to use and manage the resources given by God for His glory and the betterments of His creation. So how does it work?

We believe that Stewardship works when you identify where your hearts and passions lead you; when they are willing to seek, and share the treasure God desires for you. Stewardship works when you realistically define what is necessary to provide for your family now and in the future, and, most importantly, stewardship works when you honor what God expects of you.

This journey of financial stewardship involves a process of understanding, acknowledging, accepting, and acting. We embrace the opportunity to partner with you on this journey. Please share this message with like-minded friends and family, and call us at (614) 800-7985.

Stewardship vs Fiduciary

Where money and investments are concerned, a fiduciary is a person or organization that owes you good faith and trust and who promises to act in your best interest. The Stewardship Foundation has fiduciary responsibility to our clients. But we boldly do more—we are financial stewards.

Our first priority is to apply our passion and discipline to protect your long-term interests, not merely to demonstrate that we act in your best interest. Our work has a higher sense of purpose.

As financial stewards, we are committed to being a point of inspiration for moral, ethical and prudent decision-making. An investment fiduciary can ignore morality and ethics, and still serve as a fiduciary.

brainA financial steward must be able to judge wisely and objectively, while a fiduciary needs only to confirm to a uniform fiduciary standard. We believe that there’s a wide gap between being qualified to guide a client toward good decisions, and being competent to stand up for and speak out about unethical or illegal behavior.

Financial stewardship is a voluntary standard that is not subject to legal or regulatory oversight. Unlike a fiduciary, we don’t have to wait for regulators to define the standard of care for a financial steward.

The concept of fiduciary responsibility is processed in the neo-cortex portion of the brain involved in sensory perception, cognition, motor commands, reasoning and language. Stewards operate there too, but prioritize their thinking in the emotions of love, passion, trust and security, the limbic portion of the brain.

Our clients tend not to define their wealth in terms of cash, securities, real estate, business, cars or jewelry. While they may possess these things, they are not what makes their lives truly satisfying or happy. Victor Frankl, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning presents a theory that our primary drive in life is not toward pleasure and power, but toward the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. As good stewards, we help our clients identify the personal aspect of their wealth and to help them make a difference within the institutions and causes they care about.

The Joy of Stewardship

After taking a look at the financial state of Americans, we were moved to reflect on the biblical passage that was literally the foundation of the Stewardship Foundation—the story of the good and faithful servant in Matthew’s Parable of the Talents.

money-card-business-credit-card-50987The average American gross income is currently $71,258. That seems like good news until we realize that the average American household with a mortgage and other loans is $132,539 in debt, including an average $16,061 on credit cards.

According to IRS data for 2015, only 30% of Americans claim a charitable contribution deduction on their taxes. We might assume that some who didn’t itemize their deductions also gave, simply because Americans are generous to those less fortunate.

It’s good to remind our younger generation that they should carefully choose how they give. For example, only donations to qualified charitable organizations are deductible. If you’re not sure, we can verify this for you, or you can search for a charity on a site like Charity Navigator.

While handouts to the homeless or contributions to GoFundMe are worthy acts of charity, these are considered “personal gifts” and are not deductible. You may remember the 2015 news story about Casey Charf. While being treated in the hospital for a car accident, Casey’s doctors found she had a rare, seemingly incurable cancer requiring immediate treatment. The $50,000 she and her sister raised on GoFundMe triggered a $19,000 bill from the IRS.

When you give, keep receipts, even for cash. The same applies for payroll deductions should your employer run a charitable giving campaign. Remember too that if you receive something in exchange for your donation, whether a basket of goodies at a silent auction or a t-shirt, you have to deduct the fair market value of the incentive gift.

One of the most important charitable avenues often overlooked is giving appreciated assets. Donating property that has appreciated in value, like stock, can be highly beneficial. Call us if you want to explore how to receive a double benefit from donations of appreciated assets.

Do either our giving patterns or our own money problems, real or perceived, prevent us from remembering whose resources we’re managing? Are not our time, talents, skills, and health all tools to help us share with others, do good for others, and use them to glorify God? We exist to help others find the joy in stewardship in practical, financially beneficial ways, but also because it’s our credo and commitment to God.