Why Do People Give?

12:07 pm giving

     J. Clif Christopher in his book, Not Your Parent’s Offering Plate, reveals the reasons people give.  Christopher cites the landmark work of Jerold Panas, Mega Gifts, which was one of the first attempts to do in-depth research into the area of what motivates people to give.  Panas discovered that for major donors three factors ranked extremely high.  They are: (1) belief in the mission of the institution, (2) a high regard for staff leadership, and (3) the fiscal responsibility of the institution (Christopher, Not Your Parent’s Offering Plate, 13).
     The mission is what non-profit organizations offer to do.  Donors want to be a part of something that changes lives.  In America today, there are over 1.8 million nonprofit organizations, and over one million of these are 501 (c)(3)s.  There are about 370,000 churches.  Just ten years ago, in 1995, there were 600,000 501 (c)(3)s and about 370,000 churches (Christopher, 1).  What these numbers show is that in ten years the competition has nearly doubled.  Churches must define their mission in a positive way that demonstrates that they are helping people change their lives in wonderful ways.
     Christopher emphasizes the importance of the regard donors have for the leadership of the organization.  Potential givers desire to know the leadership and they want to have meaningful contact with them.
     “People do not give to sinking ships” (Christopher, 28).  People invest in success.  They want the money that they donate to be used wisely.  “The church is the only nonprofit I know of that seems to believe that the more you cry that you are sinking, the more people will give to you.  The exact opposite is true” (Christopher, 28).  Churches need to be good stewards.  They must demonstrate responsibility and accountability with the funds given to them.  
     If we can understand why people give, we can do a better job of staying on mission, providing good leadership and being good stewards of the funds entrusted to us.

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