What the World’s Religions Say About Charity

world religions collageThe Stewardship Foundation’s very existence is attributed to the founders’ calling to provide principled investors a pathway to charitable planning that is in sync with the teachings of Jesus Christ. But if there is one thing ALL the world’s major religions agree on is charity and helping others. This time of year we thought it might be good to reflect on this and gain some insight into this globally generous place we call Earth.


Confucius, the teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of Chinese history, when asked to express his ambition, said

Exemplary people understand matters of justice;
small people understand matters of profit.

The ancient 3rd book of the Jewish Pentateuch, the Book of Leviticus, cautions the wealthy:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Likewise, you shall not pick your vineyard bare, nor gather up the grapes that have fallen. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien.

A few centuries later, it was recorded in the Psalms

Blessed is he that considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

And Luke 12:33-34, whose insight so clearly carves our path at the Foundation (and whose quote is on the home page of our website) warns us not to store up things for ourselves, but sell our belongings and give alms…

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

The Book of Mormon, the sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, teaches…

And behold, I tell you these things that you may learn wisdom; that you may learn that when you are in the service of the your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God. Mosiah 2:17

The Dhammapada, for those unfamiliar with it, is a collection of 423 verses attributed to the Buddha as a framework for the traditions, beliefs, and practices of Buddhism, pages 83 and 98.

Do as you would want done to you.

Fools are not generous: the world of the gods is not for the stingy. Wise men are generous; they find happiness in the next birth. 

The Koran (or Quran, meaning literally “the recitation”) is the central religious text of Islam which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God:

God loves those who do good. The Table 5:13

Give generously for the cause of God…Be Charitable; God loves the charitable. The Cow 2:195

Tanakh (the larger work of the Jewish people which includes the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings) says it beautifully in Deuteronomy 15:7-11:

Give to him readily and have no regrets when you do so, for in return the LORD your God will bless you in all your efforts and in all your undertakings. For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you: open your hand to the poor and needy kinsman in your land.

Tao Te Ching is the teachings of Lao Tsu of China and the basis of the Taoist faith, thought, and culture:

Before receiving, there must be giving. – Thirty-Six

The sage never tries to store things up. The more he does for others the  more he has. The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance. – Eighty-One

Upanisads, part of the epic teachings of Hindu literature of India, gets right to the point:

There are three branches of the law. Sacrifice, study, and charity are the first. – Chandogy Upanisad, 2nd Prapataka, 23rd Khanda:1.

Let him never turn away (a stranger) from his house, that is the rule. Therefore a man should by all means acquire much food… If he gives food amply, food is given to him amply. If he gives food fairly, food is given to him fairly. If he gives food meanly, food is given to him meanly. – Taittirīyaka Upaniṣad, 3rd Vallī, 10th Anuvāka: 1

Our message is hopeful, but our reach is small. In the spirit of giving, please consider re-gifting this blog. Perhaps it will inspire someone else to better understand these insights on charity and helping others as seen through the lens of the world’s great religions. You can share by forwarding this blog to a friend or “Like” it on Facebook.

On behalf of the Staff, Board of Directors, Advisors, and volunteers at the Stewardship Foundation, we wish you a love-filled and blessed Christmas. We’ll talk to you again in the New Year!

Peace to all,

Joe, Jim, and Patrick

The Great Gatsby

green lightRecently I saw the new release of the movie The Great Gatsby, which is based on the novel written by my favorite literary author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Many literary critics believe that Fitzgerald best captured the spirit of the roaring twenties and defining the hopes associated with the American Dream.

In the last line of the book, narrator Nick says: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter— tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… and one fine morning… so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Did you notice how Fitzgerald leaves Nick’s thoughts unfinished? Perhaps because his narrator knew that Gatsby would have remained ceaselessly engaged in being carried back to the past – so what was the use of looking forward and planning for the future?

The non-profits and charities that we support can’t survive in a world of Gatsbys – they need supporters who believe wholeheartedly in their cause to “run faster” and “stretch their arms farther” with volunteerism and charitable donations. These supporters live the true American Dream, they make America a better place. Knowing that it’s not beyond their reach to make a difference, they give of themselves and their money and are happy to do it.

Gatsby had a romantic idea of happiness that ceaselessly brought him back to the past. Research in psychology has examined how giving affects people’s emotional well-being and determined that helping others leads to positive emotions such as warmth and happiness. If only Gatsby had known that the elusive Daisy (represented by the green light) would never have brought him the happiness that helping others could have. If only Gatsby had spent less time with a room full of interesting people, and more time with the Stewardship Foundation.

Admittedly, we too at the Stewardship Foundation have romantic ideas. We want to help make the world a better place by supporting transformational giving based on a set of moral values set out in the Manhattan Declaration. But unlike Gatsby, we stretch out our arms everyday and run harder to help our clients discover true happiness that comes from helping causes that are aligned with a moral compass.

If you have non-cash assets like property or valuables and would like to learn how you can use those assets to do good in your lifetime, please contact us. No beating against the current here – just moving forward to what defines us as Americans. Call us at (614) 800-7985.

Who are Joe Finneran and Jim Kebe?

Joe Finneran and I have known each other for almost twenty years during which times we have discussed, prayed about, and challenged each other and our families to live the principles that have come to guide the Stewardship Foundation.  Joe is a certified financial planner with almost thirty years of experience in planned giving practices.  Joe has always been intrigued by the motivations behind one’s investing practices while simultaneously has been challenged by the directive of Jesus to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s”.

Too often that directive has been completely ignored, or muted enough that people have no clear sense of how much of what they have actually belongs to God.  Therefore, Joe believes the Stewardship Foundation is responsible to ask those who have how much should they give back to God. Joe further understands that fear is one factor that hinders some from giving God his just due.

Consequently, Joe’s philosophy in managing his clients’ money is to enlighten them about their charge to give back to God, and to educate them on the most beneficial way they can manage their assets.  Joe believes one’s first responsibility is to his or her family and, when Joe addresses this concern, he finds one more willing and able to give back to God that which rightly belongs to Him.

I have been working with church ministries and non-profits since 2000 and I am continually inspired by those who work in these areas.  Those who work in charities and non-profits usually have an unparalleled passion and zeal for their ministries and the people they serve.

Most of these executive directors and staff works are motivated by service rather than financial rewards, but their services a dependent upon donations.  Characteristically, however, their ability to serve and further their respective ministries is not matched in their fundraising efforts.  Most non-profit directors and workers do not like to fund raise and they find their ministries struggling to meet their needs month to month.

The Stewardship Foundation wants to assist ministries and non-profits in their fundraising endeavors. A reality not often understood by non-profit fundraisers is that 80-90% of their potential donor’s assets are not in cash. Yet, most fundraising efforts by non-profits focus on cash assets only.  As a result, non-profits limit themselves to only 10-20% of their donor’s potential giving pool.

The Stewardship Foundation enables non-profits to explore receiving from a greater donor resource.  And donors appreciate knowing how they might utilize their assets better thus making more money available to their favorite non-profits.