Causes

5 gifts (that aren’t money) to help a charity thrive

When it comes to creating impact for your favorite charity, you may primarily think in terms of making a larger grant or writing a bigger check.

But there may be other gifts that matter just as much as your money, and those gifts can greatly enhance the impact of your financial support. Two ministry leaders told us about a giver who has made a world of difference by offering more than just funding.

To get a first-hand perspective, we spoke with those leaders – Jeff Stone of Calvary La Esperanza in Guatemala and Joe Novelo of Amazon Reach in Brazil – who have both been blessed to receive this kind of support from Paul Young, an NCF giver and South Florida entrepreneur. They shared five things you can give to help charities that may be just as valuable as your money.

1. Your friendship

Joe Novelo and his wife, Jill

Joe Novelo heads up Amazon Reach, a ministry which cares for unreached and isolated people, plants churches, arranges for medical services and trains other missionaries. Over time, Paul has built a close relationship with Joe that makes all the difference. 

“Paul is different from other donors,” Joe explains. “Even though I had a personal recommendation, Paul vetted me pretty good.” But once they were past the vetting, Paul and his wife invited Joe to his home for dessert and handed him a check that was more than the amount he’d committed.  

“We’re impressed and comfortable, and we want to get behind you,” Paul told Joe. Now, because Paul and Joe are friends, Paul has an intimate knowledge of the work of Amazon Reach in Brazil, and his financial gifts are strategic – just what the ministry needs, exactly when they need it.

2. Your business smarts

Jeff Stone, director of Calvary La Esperanza in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, pastors a growing church and runs a private school that has grown from 12 kids to 250 in just a few years. His church is creative about providing the support they need to minister in their area, which has led Jeff to becoming a bit of an entrepreneur too.

When Jeff began cultivating a donor relationship with Paul, he proposed a huge project that involved buying a $1.5M building. “Bro, that’s kind of crazy,” Paul said at first. But then he explained. “I don’t think your ministry is ready for an undertaking like this, and it may not be the wisest avenue for you to pursue.” As an experienced businessman, Paul could tell that leasing was a better option.

So, Jeff came back to Paul with a new proposal. He could lease a building where the owner would allow him to build out floors for the school, one at a time. 

Jeff Stone with his family

“It was a great business plan,” Paul says. So, Paul and his wife put up half the money for the buildout and helped Jeff raise the rest. “It’s far exceeded our expectations,” Paul says. “Even in the midst of COVID, the church and the school are thriving. Jeff’s done it better than what we put on paper.”

3. Your drive for sustainability

Joe was hosting Youth With a Mission ministry outreach teams in Brazil who paid him for their lodging, food, and logistics. But he wasn’t covering all his overhead, because he had to rent various homes for the teams to stay in. Paul encouraged Joe to buy a building for housing the teams so the ministry would have a sustainable income. Paul and his wife pledged gifts, and others matched it. With the new building, Amazon Reach can focus on ministry instead of fundraising. They can train more missionaries and host more teams than before.  

Working toward sustainability is a giving goal that the Lord has put on Paul’s heart for all the ministries that he supports. “I think it gets more and more challenging for overseas organizations to be constantly coming to the pot to raise support,” Paul says. Now, helping them avoid that is the driving force behind Paul’s giving. 

4. Your emotional connection

Paul has a personal stake in both of these ministries. “Paul feels responsible in part for the ministry, and he sticks around. It’s to the point that if something fails, it’s not the missionaries’ fault. It’s that WE tried together, and it just didn’t work.” Joe adds. It’s a constant spiritual battle that we face together.

“Paul’s in this,” Jeff says. “It feels like he’s part of this ministry. He has a personal connection and a voice in it. That’s the big win.” Both Jeff and Joe point out that they have a few donors who are supportive in similar ways. A handful of people like that frees ministry leaders to focus on ministry and reminds them they’re not alone.

“My wife and I were thinking about how to give more effectively,” Paul says. “We decided that if we did fewer projects but could be mentally and emotionally connected to a project, it would make for wiser giving and would be better for the ministry. I wanted to invest more than money but also my time and business knowledge and resources.”

Paul Young with his family

5. Your open lines of communication

Not all of Paul’s attempts to help a ministry have met people with such integrity, so he appreciates that these ministries keep in touch and always keep him informed. His gift to them is to be equally responsive. 

When COVID hit, Joe realized he wouldn’t be hosting the teams that keep his ministry sustainable. He asked Paul directly for a monthly gift until the pandemic passed. Paul agreed; but a few months in, Joe figured out how to do without it. Someone else could use the money more, he told Paul.

“They’re back to operating and self-sufficient again,” Paul says. “They’ve told us they don’t need our money anymore, and I greatly appreciate Joe’s integrity. It’s rare to come across that these days, even in ministry, and it lets me know I’ve invested in the right person and place.” 

Meanwhile, Jeff’s church thrived during pandemic shutdowns. “The hand of the Lord is on this ministry, there’s no doubt. But the tools God used were three wise men,” he says of Paul and two other men who came alongside when he needed them. “I can’t say enough!”

Jeff and Joe are delighted by and appreciate Paul’s involvement. And Paul can’t stop raving about these ministry leaders and the joy he’s experienced by investing in their ministries with gifts that go beyond just money. “I’ve enjoyed it so much, I can’t wait to find another ministry to come alongside so I can do it again.”

Sheila Dolinger contributed to this story.

Photos courtesy of Joe Novelo, Jeff Stone, and Paul Young.

Hero photo: Shutterstock

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