Givers

The genesis of giving collaborations

Madagascar. Seattle. Tasmania. Dallas. The Czech Republic. There’s a similar work of God happening in each of these places – and many others! Givers are meeting to collaborate.

In each of these places, men and women who have been called by God as generous givers are gathering together, recognizing that giving as a community sparks the joy of fellowship while also sharpening their giving acumen. They share a passion for the gospel and generosity with peers while ensuring that they are deploying resources in the most intelligent, thoughtful, and God-honoring manner they can.

One of these kingdom giving collaborations in Europe, initiated by Adam Walach, is now known as “Seeds.” Adam founded a pharmaceutical company with his brothers with a plan to give. It grew to have 900 employees across nine countries.

He explains, “When we started our business … we decided to give away 50 percent of the profit. We didn’t keep that promise for a few years, and I drifted from God. But in 2006, I came back to God. I read Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, and then I wrote down the reasons why we are to be generous. That document keeps me faithful.”

After they sold the company a few years later, Adam began praying about getting more focused in his generosity – and creating a community focused on giving together. Both Generous Giving and Halftime played a part in this season of discernment.

I read Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, and then I wrote down the reasons why we are to be generous. That document keeps me faithful.

A strategic advantage

As a giver, Adam realized that he was alone. “I needed other givers, to sit around the table and talk to each other,” Adam says. He spent some time getting to know existing giving collaborations, and he liked the way that projects were presented. “In my business,” says Adam, “when we make investments, managers prepare business plans and strategic plans. Then our executive committee reviews them, offers feedback and makes investment decisions.”

Collaborative giving felt like the right intersection between that strategic discipline of the marketplace and the joyful impact of kingdom investing.

“What’s the biggest impact for the kingdom?” Adam asked when he saw projects. “I had this vetting and project presentation in my business, but not in my giving.”

Adam continued to participate in global collaboratives but felt something was missing. “We need something like this in Europe,” he thought, “and not just in Europe, but in the Czech Republic,” specifically.

Around that time, Adam met Dusan, who had left his successful career at T-Mobile to invest in the youth of the Czech Republic through a local ministry. Through Adam’s involvement with the ministry, the two became friends. As their friendship grew, Dusan thought Adam would like to meet some of other donors he knew. Adam invited some businessmen he knew, and the community he hoped to create began to take shape.

The joy of kingdom relationships

Six Czech donor families convened in 2013. Some were suspicious that others might have ulterior motives. Others feared the gathering would be filled with posh people bragging about their business success. The group – spouses included – spent two nights at a hotel, getting to know each other, receiving biblical teaching, and sharing how they became Christians. They talked about what they were giving to and what they thought their nation needed.

Adam reflects, “We were six couples, from all different Christian denominations, initially just sharing our journey to Jesus Christ and our passion for the gospel. It began with investing in relationships.”

They decided to meet again as the Christian Donors Forum, with more of a focus on strategic giving. They invited Lee Behar of the Maclellan Foundation to share about strategic giving. Then the group decided to meet twice a year: once to focus purely on their own fellowship and spiritual lives, and once to focus on Czech ministry projects. The group has now grown to more than 30 givers, who have also become a loving community of friends.

The group has now grown to more than 30 givers, who have also become a loving community of friends.

There are a few key principals they have embraced that guide their giving community. It is:

  • Donor-driven – The group serves givers and responds to givers’ needs (ministry leaders are not the audience).
  • Relational and trust-based – The group is focused on relationships and spiritual growth.
  • Safe – The group is not a fundraising environment. There is no solicitation.
  • Great-Commission focused – While there are many great efforts to support, Seeds narrows in on evangelism and discipleship (Mt 28: 19-20), with great flexibility as to how ministries achieve these goals.

One participant shared his experience of the group:

“First I was suspicious of this group. I thought it would be a group of wealthy snobs. My wife said she was afraid there would be people in Ferraris. But it actually turned out that these are just people who love to give. Others teased me and said that – actually – I might have the most expensive car here. Oops! But, in all seriousness, I found that this is a normal group of people with the same problems I have.”

This is one model that has worked well, but collaborative giving can take various forms. We see givers operating in community across the world, with the entrepreneurial leaders of each community crafting an approach that works well in their local context.

In Dallas, young professionals gather quarterly to discuss best practices in generosity, co-fund local projects, and build deep and lasting friendships. In Seattle, givers have banded together to tackle the local issue of human trafficking in a strategic, coordinated way. In Tasmania, a group of Christian business leaders were tired of hearing that there was insufficient funding to accomplish kingdom goals, so they started a group to solve that problem together and provide needed funding to worthy causes. And there are dozens more!

If you feel a prompting from the Holy Spirit to explore collaborative giving further, send the authors a quick note at info@generoustogether.org. They will share with you about how successful giving collaborations are launched and sustained. They’d be delighted to brainstorm how you might launch your own collaboration in partnership with your local NCF team.

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