So often, we talk about having a Giving Strategy. We talk about planning your giving and looking for impact. But there will be times when the Holy Spirit leads you to something you hadn’t thought of before. What should you do then?
We want you to be strategic, to plan your giving and make sure you’re doing it in the wisest ways. We hope you’re looking for charities that are making progress for the causes you care about. These things are important. But we all know that there are other times, times when God has a different plan for our giving that has nothing to do with impact or tax breaks.
So many people are feeling invisible in this season. Have you seen them – the under appreciated, exhausted, people who are just feeling down? So many have worked tirelessly for months on end, and maybe with little thanks. Is there a public servant who needs to know God sees him, a medical professional you can show his love to? A teacher who is barely getting by and needs to know God as her provider? A neighbor who is lonely and would love to be invited over for a meal?
You can plan for this type of giving too, by setting aside some money that isn’t yet earmarked for a ministry and by praying that God will make you aware of the needs right in front of you this season. Here are a few stories of others who gave spontaneously and found joy. We hope they’ll inspire you to be on the lookout for needs too.
5 stories of spontaneous generosity
- From a giver from California
I was driving down the highway and saw a man by the side of the road. I don’t usually carry cash, but a few days before, I’d been given a some cash that I didn’t expect to receive. It was sitting in a card inside the glove box of my car. I usually don’t give cash to people on the side of the road, but I saw the man’s sign as I sat at the stoplight. All it said was, “I’m hungry.”
I opened up the card and grabbed $100. There was nothing smaller in the envelope. I laughed, then worried for a second about what he might spend it on. Then I prayed God would handle the details and pulled over into the lane beside him. “Quick, take this before someone honks at me.” Not the most Christ-like statement I could’ve made. If I’d had time to think, I ought to have mentioned it was because of Jesus. I prayed God would let him know. I looked in my rearview mirror. He looked like someone who had just won something on a game show. And I could hear him as I was driving away. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”
- From a giver in Georgia
Recently, I wanted to volunteer at a large, local homeless mission, but due to COVID concerns, I was not allowed to serve in person. Instead, the mission asked if I could provide the ingredients for a meal for 600! I took it as a challenge and enlisted the help of my children. We drove from store to store looking for huge quantities from the list: 101 8 oz cans of green beans, boxes of pasta, pounds of ground beef, gallons of iced tea, 600 breadsticks! We managed to get everything they needed for a warm meal on a cold winter night.
It was an adventure. My family turned it into a game, and it was so joyful. This didn’t just provide a meal – it taught my family what being a cheerful giver really means.
- From NCF’s Southwest team
One morning last year, right before Christmas, we gathered with some very generous people together for breakfast. We met at a local eatery and were served by a single mom named Tara. When Tara brought our food, we said we would be praying for the meal and wondered if she had anything she’d like us to pray for. She immediately said her two kids. She was going to pick them up after her shift, so she could spend Christmas with them. She was emotional in telling us. As we asked a couple follow-up questions, we found out her ex-husband had dropped the ball, and this was quite unexpected. She would now need to plan a complete Christmas for them.
Tara had no idea what was about to take place. The breakfast was delicious, and when the checks came for the meal, we each paid for our breakfast with cash. Then (we had prepared beforehand), each of us added a crisp new $100 bill to our check as a tip. Tara was stunned, in tears, and incredibly grateful! We ourselves were all crying, trying to say you are welcome!
- From a giver in New York City
What do you do when you want to use your DAF to help an old friend of the family? Well, as a rule, a DAF cannot be used to give money to individuals, but there are some exceptions when the individual is suffering financial hardship (such as medical bills, disability or unemployment). NCF has a wonderful relationship with Helping Hands, a ministry established by friends of NCF that, among other things, has a specialty in serving individuals facing financial difficulties.
Recently, we were able to work alongside Helping Hands. Someone who had served our family decades ago was now much older and in need of nursing home care. And she couldn’t afford the fees. Within a day of finding out about this need, we were able to prove eligibility and produce the needed documentation. The gift was approved in an hour! It is a blessing to be able to serve on a good day. But on those rare days when NCF’s entrepreneurial DNA finds creative solutions that make deep impact on the lives of individuals, it is a very special day.
- From a proud parent from NCF’s national office
My daughter was telling me about how she was hanging out downtown with a friend this weekend when a very visibly pregnant woman with a 13-month-old toddler in a stroller approached her. The woman needed money for a hotel room. It was nighttime, and she and her baby were cold. A stranger had bought them a blanket but didn’t want to give her the $90 she needed for a hotel room, in case it was a scam. So my daughter sent her $70 by an app, on the spot, and her friend gave her all the cash he had in his wallet ($40).
My daughter told me she would rather be the kind of person who got scammed out of $70 than the kind of person who didn’t help a mama and her baby sleep in a warm place. My gosh, I love that girl with every ounce of my soul. Just when I think I can’t be more proud of my kids they do something new and wonderful. I feel discouraged about the world a lot. But then these Gen Z kids show us what they’re made of, and I realize they are going to save us.
Have you paused this season to ask yourself what needs are around you? There may be opportunities for joy that God is just waiting to drop in your lap, but you won’t see them unless your eyes are open to it and your heart is set on just this kind of adventure.
Prayer: God, please help me to keep my eyes open to those around me, to consider others as more important than myself, to step into the moments you’ve prepared for me ahead of time and give what you call me to give. Help me not to be self-centered but to keep my eyes open for your call to see someone and to help.
Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash