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?
Great article Dawn. I received an email from a friend a few days ago that really inspired me to make a “SMART” gift. I was immediately moved by the story of a young 11-year-old boy who wanted to give up his Christmas wish list after he read about those in underdeveloped countries who survive on very little. He was himself inspired to help provide a gift of farm animals like pigs, chickens, cows and goats for those in need so they would have a more sustainable food source for their families. He told his mom, “You know that Christmas list I gave you mom? Well, don’t get me any of that stuff. Let’s spend the money on farm animals for these families instead! I’ll even take money out of my savings.” Wow, I didn’t just feel a “heart tug” it was more like a “heart rip”. It was meaningful because I know this boy and his family. They don’t have a lot. They live very simple with two of their five children with Type 1 Diabetes and all the expenses and hardship that goes along with that. They have a heavy load to carry but they are one of the most kind and generous families I know. It didn’t take me long to take action after his mom made JC’s NEW Christmas Wish List for farm animals known on Facebook. She launched a GoFundMe campaign to let others participate in the giving. He is also earning money doing various jobs. I already love this family but our relationship went a step beyond our original connection of diabetes. My life truly has been transformed watching this young man grow and give. I hope he earns and raises every cent and more in his campaign. I’m tempted to give him the entire amount but I know that isn’t always the best. There are many others who would miss out being blessed and inspired making a SMART gift to this young man and his NEW Christmas Wish List.