How business owners are making generosity part of the deal

“Who is this NCF guy? I keep seeing him on these business deals I’m working on.” 

By Jeff Haanen

That was the question my friend Tom Heule, partner at Denver-based Denargo Capital, asked as he and I were sitting down for breakfast outside on a sunny, September morning. Between sips of coffee and bits of our fruit and oatmeal, he shared about his work in investing – and how many of the business owners he knew who had included NCF when they formed their businesses.

When he asked me who NCF was, I explained what I knew. “This NCF guy” is National Christian Foundation, a team of professionals around the country helping generous Christians to be more generous with what they have. NCF doesn’t just represent a donor-advised fund, but givers taking part in the healing of our communities through generosity everywhere.  

A lot of people do their charitable giving from their personal salaries, but more and more business owners are prioritizing generosity and giving business equity to charity, I explained. And NCF is helping them. That’s why NCF’s name kept being mentioned in Tom’s deals.

Jack Kim, principal of commercial real estate firm, KORE Investments (Kingdom Oriented Real Estate), says he sees many people integrate their faith and work at a personal level. “But what about the entity level?” he asks. “What if more Christian business owners gave equity from the deal as almost a minimum standard for living out their faith and their work?”

Kim practices what he preaches. In a recent real estate acquisition in the suburbs of Chicago, the investors gave 10 percent equity to an inner-city youth ministry, resulting in more than $500,000 for the charity each year. Kim strongly encourages investors in his deals to donate a minimum 10-percent tithe on the ROI of each deal to the charity of their choice or into a Giving Fund.

“I can take home $50,000 or $100,000 and tithe from that, but what about profits from the business or entity I own?” asks Kim. “Why aren’t we tithing from the corporate entity?”

“It gets easier when I realize I don’t own anything,” Kim says. “I’m a steward, and that really changes things.”

Stories of owners giving 100 percent of their businesses to charity are inspiring. But, for many investors, this level is out of reach or flat-out impossible, as they only own a small fraction of the business. Yet a growing number of business owners are choosing to give from what they do have — ownership in a business.

“I can take home $50,000 or $100,000 and tithe from that, but what about profits from the business or entity I own?”

Because so much of the world’s wealth is tied up in non-cash assets, such as stock or real estate, Kim believes generosity could help us make a much bigger impact, especially if we think about giving our firstfruits of business ownership, and not just the salary we are paid (Proverbs 3:9-10). And giving equity can heal communities, from poverty alleviation in South Africa to ministry on the south side of Chicago. 

Tom’s firm, Denargo Capital, invests in niche manufacturing, real estate, and value-added distribution and service businesses where they can substantially increase shareholder value. Since our conversation, Tom’s learned more about “this NCF guy” and knows that giving equity to charity means that the causes he cares most about can be shareholders and partners in his business too. 

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