“It Is Better to Give Than to Receive”: 6 Scientific & Biblical Reasons Why
Is it better to give than to receive? Here are six biblical and scientific reasons why giving is better than receiving.
December 10, 2019
Brad Formsma, author of "I Like Giving," talks about the transformative power of living your life as a gift.
December 3, 2018
Do you wake up every morning excited about a new day?
Do you live each day with anticipation, expectation, and energy?
Do you go to bed at night feeling satisfied, happy, and glad to be alive?
Do you have a sense that you make the world a better place and that you are the only person in the world who could be you and do what you do?
If so, you’ve probably discovered the transforming power of a generous life.
If not, your life is about to change.
We’re not made to serve ourselves.
Have you noticed that if you have only enough time and energy to focus on yourself, life just isn’t that great? Have you experienced that amazing feeling of realizing that someone just did something for you without even being asked? Have you tasted the joy that comes from doing the same thing for others?
When generosity becomes your lifestyle, your life will take on a new glow. You will feel appreciated. You will feel worthy. You will feel celebrated, and you will get that deep sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing you enrich other people’s lives. When giving moves from being an occasional activity to the very essence of your life, you start experiencing the fullness of life at a whole different level.
When your goal is to live your life as a gift, you move from asking how you can get ahead to how you can serve others to the best of your ability. The question is not “What am I good at?” but “How can I best give my life away to others?” The University of Rochester professors found that people with life goals that focused on giving to others became happier as they met those goals, while people with self-focused goals got, if anything, less happy even if they were very successful.
What would becoming a gift in every area of your life look like? If you ask yourself that question and begin living your life as a gift, you will discover satisfaction beyond anything you have known before.
You don’t have to make massive life changes, move to another city, or start your own nonprofit to become a gift to other people. You can start with who you are, right where you are, right now. In fact, you probably are already a gift to many people in many ways, but you might not always be aware of it.
Perhaps a few small changes in your routine are enough to revolutionize your life.
Take a minute to think about it.
How do you view your job?
Do you see it as a way to earn a paycheck, or do you take pride in knowing that your company serves its customers well and that you, in turn, serve your company well? Do you ask yourself how your unique gifts and abilities could serve others better? Do you find yourself getting happier as you reach your goals, or do you live with a sense of dissatisfaction?
What about your personal life?
Do you see yourself as a gift to your family, your friends, your community? Do you feel frustrated that life isn’t what you want it to be, or do you take joy in finding new ways to contribute and give?
What about your leisure time?
How could you make that more generous? Would teaching your kids to fish be more satisfying than going fishing by yourself? Could volunteering at a local charity be more life giving than sitting on your couch watching television?
Remember—there is no obligation here. These questions should not make you feel bad about how you currently live. See them as presenting opportunities to live an even better life than you already do while improving the lives of those around you. Refocusing any aspect of your life through the lens of generosity can be an exceptionally powerful way to do both.
Once you start asking the right questions, those questions can lead to the right answers.
Perhaps you are not well suited for your job; maybe moving to a different career would free you up to become a better gift to others. If that is the case, moving will benefit everyone. Finding your place in the world and becoming the gift that only you can become is a good thing to want to do—it’s best for everyone.
So take a moment, wherever you are, whatever your life circumstances are, and ask yourself, “How can my life become a gift?”
Think it through. Ask your friends. Make a list of the ways you give and how you can grow in generosity. Add to your list little by little. You don’t have to be a millionaire to give, and you don’t have to have a lot of money to be rich.
All you have to do is start living to give.
Adapted from I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life. Copyright © 2014 by Brad Formsma. Used by permission of WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.
Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.
Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:
A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.
Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.
With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.
To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.
The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.
Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving. So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.
Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.
Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.
Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.
Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.
Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:
There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.
Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.
How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.