When is faith-based giving smart? According to Gray Keller, a self-described thinker, author and philanthropist, “It can be the beginning of a journey of a lifetime.” He recently wrote about what he describes as “SMART Giving for the Community of Faith.” I’ve used the SMART acronym for strategic planning many times: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. But I also love how he uses it in the context of faith-based philanthropy.
For Keller it means Spirit-inspired, Meaningful, Actionable, Relational and Transformational. If you read Keller’s blog you’ll get a sense of how he further defines each of these words in the realm of faith-based giving. While I like much of what he says, my experience tells me it is difficult to make all giving fit into this acronym. Honestly, there’s not enough time in my days to make it so, but there is something special, even indescribable, when some of my gifts are SMART.
He describes “Spirit-inspired” as a “heart tug on your soul.” How could that be said any better? “Meaningful” giving must touch you (the giver) and the recipient in a way that matters to both. “Actionable” is getting involved – sharing time, treasures and talent – it’s more than a bank draft or a credit card charge. The act of being “Actionable” surely leads to being “Relational” – giving to something or someone that’s a need you can almost touch face to face. Finally, by being “Relational” you are there to share in the “Transformation.”
Gray says that transformational giving “transforms you, the giver, into a better, more humble, more grateful and gracious giver, while opening your eyes and hearts to the many realities that others face.”
I know your mailbox, like mine, is beginning to fill with year-end requests from many organizations and causes about which you care. As you begin to sort through the many letters, ask yourself if you can be a SMART faith-based giver with at least one of your gifts. What would a SMART gift look like to you?