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Shift Ministry Models

How Much Should I Give?

Mission, meaning, and multiplication
by Michelle Edgerton | July 11, 2022

We are presented with many opportunities each day that require decisions.  Some are small and do not have significant consequences.  However, many of our choices, especially the financial ones, can have a huge impact on many things.  How we spend our money is perhaps one of the most paramount decisions that we contemplate.  Paul reminds us in Acts 20:35 that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  With that knowledge, I warmly embrace my Christian role as a giver.  I give my time, talent, and tithe freely.  However, while the concept of giving is accepted by most Christians, it is sometimes a challenge to decide how much and where to give.  As a fundraiser and founding director of The Edgerton Group, I solicit gifts and encourage donors to support various missions.  Just as I ask funders to invest strategically guided by mission, I have guidelines that govern my choices about how much and who to give to.  My giving is determined by mission, meaning and multiplication.    

Mission

When the mission of an organization, or a ministry’s call aligns with my personal mission and what I discern as God’s mission, I am motivated to support the work with my resources.  I believe in the idea of communities utilizing all available resources and working together to meet the community’s needs.  When ministries and organizations influence this type of collaboration and partnership, I enthusiastically join them and give.  Additionally, I seek giving opportunities with clear strategic plans, goals, actions, and impact.  I appreciate institutions that can articulate these through storytelling and with supportive data.  When missions align, the decision to give is made with ease.

Meaning

A meaningful gift as one that is significant in amount based on the donor’s capacity.  As a fundraiser, I ask donors to give meaningful gifts. Some people have the financial ability to give large gifts, and they are greatly appreciated. However, when donors give gifts that stretch them because of their belief in an organization’s purpose or ministerial call, the gift is monumental. This gift says that I’m invested in the success of the institution. When I give, I stretch myself beyond my comfort level and enter the realm of motivational giving. I choose an amount that requires something greater of me, something beyond the money. I ask God to instruct me about how much and to whom I give.  This decision is a spiritual experience requiring faith. I usually know how much I will contribute before attending a fundraiser or motivational giving service because I want to give a gift based on my discernment and not as a reaction to a program or ask. The ask is important; however, personal meaning and sacrifice determine my giving.  

Multiplication

My giving is also guided by my belief in multiplication and reciprocity. I expect my gift to expand, thus rendering greater returns for the organization and for me. The yield that I expect is not always money, although money is returned to me when I give.  I invest in organizations and trust that my gift will increase their ability to fulfill their mission and produce greater impact.  My contribution combined with others will bring tremendous outcomes.  I also receive great financial harvest because of the seeds that I sow.  Luke 6:38 (NRSVUE) states, “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”  My decision about how much to give is predicated by the  impact I wish to see.  I was taught, “you give little, you receive little.”  I expect great impact and returns when I give.  So, when you’re deciding how much to give, I encourage you to ask yourself, “how big of an impact do you want?”  This should make the decision easier.

Giving is not a chore, it is our responsibility, and can be a joyful experience.  I hope that by applying the principles of mission, meaning, and multiplication when you are discerning how much and to whom to give, your discernment process is smoother and produces a great reward for you and the community. 

About the Author

Michelle Edgerton

Michelle T. Edgerton is an experienced professional with nearly two decades of proven success as a fundraiser and senior executive leader. Michelle’s strength is building strong, successful fundraising programs and helping organizations obtain greater clarity and mission alignment through strategic investments. In 2019, she founded The Edgerton Group – an innovative, strategic fundraising and organizational development consulting firm. In addition to being the founding principal at The Edgerton Group, Michelle serves as the Chief Development Officer for United States of Care. Michelle lives in the Twin Cities of Minnesota with her husband, David Edgerton Jr. They have two sons, a daughter, and an amazing daughter in law.

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