Joy In Giving
Joy In Giving

By Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®

Give and it will be given to you.
Luke 6:38

It’s that time of year when giving is on our hearts. Year end is typically when most people finalize their charitable giving. This year the Holy Spirit has moved me to explore giving and understand the many nuances associated with it. What I have confirmed is that generosity is the key to happiness.

A lot is changing in the landscape of philanthropy and charitable giving. Below are some highlights from the recently released Giving USA 2018: Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year of 2017*.

  • Total estimated charitable giving in the U.S. increased 5.2% in 2017
  • Individual giving rose to an all time high in 2017, up ~5.2%
  • Number of individuals giving is declining
  • Giving by foundations increased 6%, corporations 8% and bequests 2.3%
  • Gifts to religious causes still the highest ranked category at 31%
  • Education gifts next at 14%

* USA Foundation, in partnership with IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

We are in the midst of a multi-trillion-dollar intergenerational transfer of wealth. Gen Xers and Millennials will be inheriting this wealth at the same time they are reaching their peak earning years; building even more wealth. Women in the U.S. now control more than half of the total personal wealth in the country. In addition women are now the primary breadwinner in nearly 40% of US households.

The wealthy not only want to give more they want to be knowledgeable about who and what they are supporting. Many give anonymously but others are very public with their giving. They are building brands, spending time, energy and money on issues they care about. With that comes high expectations. Many newly wealthy enjoy the celebrity of championing causes.

Givers want to feel that they are a part of something, part of a larger community. We are drawn to causes that have clarity of mission, transparency, community and tell a great story. Mission and vision are important. Tools are improving as well. Planned giving is becoming a real thing. Growth of donor-advised funds (DAF) is a gamechanger enabling people to give, when the timing is right for them. It’s like your own personal giving fund.

We live in a culture of stuff, more stuff, bigger, better, fancier, newer … you get the picture. As we are looking to downsize in order to make Rockport our forever home I am becoming all too familiar with stuff. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. In our 20s, 30s, and 40s it’s all about stuff, accumulating stuff. Our 50s are more about living life and creating experiences. Our 60s become about offloading stuff and simplifying our life. We say hindsight is 20 / 20 and if I had it to do all over again I would give more and accumulate less.

Is one of your legacy goals to leave something to the next generation or generations? Have you ever thought that they might not be properly prepared to receive it? Check out my Podcast Christian Financial Perspectives, Episode 4, Estate Planning: The Wrong Way, The Right Way at or on iTunes, GooglePlay or Stitcher. You just might find guidance to answer some of those questions.

Recently I heard an interview with David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby. In his words…

“God has led him on a lifelong journey toward generosity, humility, and family unity in the midst of great business success.”

He shared that his company belongs to God and they don’t own it, they are simply stewards of what God has provided. He had a great fear that his heirs might not be properly prepared to deal with inheriting significant wealth and they should not receive anything they didn’t work for.

If you are a giver and interested in celebrating generosity ask me about hosting a Journey of Generosity. This is an overnight experience with your peers, your friends or even your family discussing the generous life. The host is someone who wants to encourage a conversation about generosity amongst friends and the event is guided by a Generous Giving facilitator. It’s an opportunity to explore the life-changing message of generosity and the power it has to bring, joy, freedom and purpose to your giving.

If you are looking for help setting a giving goal, creating a personal giving plan or just want to learn more I am here to help.

Say “Yes” to God. When our giving glorifies God it’s a win win, a win for you and for the Kingdom.

For God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7


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