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

Turned 70-1/2 last year?

Charities are still reeling from the economic downturn of the few years. Frankly, many of them are hurting. But if you are at least 6 months over 70 years old and you’re required to take more from your IRA than you need, then you can make one of these charities’ life a bit brighter. But you have to hurry.

IRS deadline loomsThe Feds recently enacted tax legislation to allow a distribution to charity from any traditional or Roth IRA up to a maximum of $100,000 per donor. The distribution has to be made directly from your IRA to the charity, so you won’t have that warm fuzzy from penning the paper, but you’ll still be doing a world of good.

There’s some fine print in this deal that ends February 1, 2013, so if you want to take advantage of this distribution to charity we can advise how to do it correctly and help you contact your IRA custodian or representative to arrange for the proper transfer of funds.

If you qualify, and want to make a move now, we encourage you to learn more about the charities that uphold the values shared by the Stewardship Foundation – those that are catalysts for positive, life-affirming change in our communities.

We will work with your tax advisor, attorney and financial advisor to determine if this is the right financial move for you now – but time is running out. Contact Joe Finneran or Patrick Finneran to start the conversation today.

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.