This is a story about anonymity … which makes it a little difficult to tell. You’ll see.
Some people are suspicious of anonymous grants from donor-advised funds, because they don’t know people who make stories like the one we’re about to tell you happen. We know a lot of them. For these people, it’s not about hiding; it’s about deep humility, and people with wealth who are quietly using their resources to do good, because they love God and seek to obey and glorify him … not themselves.
So, here’s the story.
There was a couple, (we cannot tell you their names) who lived in a large city (we cannot tell you which one) and cared deeply about a ministry that houses people who have serious unmet physical and spiritual needs.
The ministry was doing great things in their city, and God gave them a vision that their program could reach a more diverse group, enabling them to help even more people. Their fundraising goal was way out of their reach, but they set it anyway. For months, this ministry sought to meet their goal and expand their reach, but it really looked like they might not make it.
“Have faith,” one of the ministry’s leaders said, asking the group to hang on and not give up. The words of the encouragement may not sound powerful, but they were rooted in a belief that the God who had begun a good work in their city, through their ministry, was faithful to complete it.
No one at the ministry knew that, at that same time, God was tapping a couple on the shoulder, a couple who had substantial resources and could help make the ministry’s vision a reality. When they felt that tap, they were sure they were called to give. But they also recognized the gift wasn’t about them. It wasn’t about the fundraising goal or even the vision of the ministry. It was about glorifying God, through obedience and through giving … anonymously.
No one at the ministry knew that, at that same time, God was tapping a couple on the shoulder.
So, our couple contacted their local NCF office to talk about the gift they felt God calling them to make and their desire to give without ostentation. Then they opened their Cornerstone Fund, a personalized donor-advised fund at NCF, and recommended we send a huge check to this ministry … ASAP. We knew this was an important check with a specific purpose, and because it had a few zeros with it, our team took extra care to make sure the check was handled with the utmost care … and with the requested anonymity.
A few days later, a FedEx truck arrived with the check that would allow the ministry to reach their goal and fulfill their God-given vision. But when the delivery man knocked on the door, no one answered. He reported that he would redeliver the package, and got back in his truck.
Here is where NCF comes in. We recognize that we stand at a holy intersection – between giver and gifts, between God’s work and the funding it takes to get it done – and we take our work quite seriously. In this case, we knew the desire of the giver and the time sensitivity of the gift arriving.
An NCF employee specifically tasked with monitoring these Cornerstone Fund transactions was watching the FedEx tracking. When she saw the package undelivered, she immediately called the ministry and FedEx. The FedEx employee on the phone generously agreed to contact their driver, told him there were people at the building to receive the check, and asked him to turn around.
So he did.
We recognize that we stand at a holy intersection – between giver and gifts, between God’s work and the funding it takes to get it done – and we take our work quite seriously.
The check was delivered. The goal was met. The funds contributed were enough to provide for the additional ministry, as well as a new space in which to serve more people. The landscape of the community surrounding this ministry is about to be changed forever.
The same ministry leader who encouraged his team to “have faith,” said this: “God provides according to his timing and plan,” another sentence which might seem trite if it weren’t about many people being given a new chance at life. But it is about that.
Just a couple years later, when we spoke with them, the ministry leaders were still rejoicing over the grant that was a game-changer for them. “It changed our ministry for generations to come,” they say. And they’re thankful it was anonymous because it didn’t shine a light on the giver. It didn’t shine a light anywhere, didn’t require them to manage the flow of conversation about it. It just quietly empowered the work they were doing and allowed them to keep moving forward in service to God and their community.
And although this story is about anonymity, we hope you agree it needed to be told … to God alone be the glory.
Photo: Zain Salim