Giving Power

On March 28, 2019 a fire completely destroyed the apartments of 48 college students in Harrisonburg, VA, the home of James Madison University. Shortly after the fire, a student created a GoFundMe site asking for $48,000; within five days, the site received over $86,000. Here are some lessons churches can take away from this:

  • Power of small gifts-more than 3700 people gave an average gift of $23.24. The two biggest gifts were $500 each. While it is important to ask high capacity donors for gifts, do not underestimate the power of LOTS of smaller gifts. That also means that your message is shared among a wider audience and the ripple effect of that is immense. Everyone who gives feels good about being part of the solution.
  • Power of urgency-there was an immediate need and someone acted quickly. When there is a crisis, leaders must be proactive and not wait on a committee’s approval. When there is a need, address it immediately.
  • Power of community-this need was seen and met by tens of thousands of students, alumni, and friends all bound by one thing-their university. Leverage “the tie that binds” so people can unite behind one achievable goal.
  • Power of storytelling-this story has been shared on social media over 20,000 times. Churches need to share their stories of generosity as often as they can in as many ways as they can so that their community will know the ways they are engaged with their neighbors and city. Tell the stories!
  • Power of integrity-a student created this site but quickly released it to university administrator. Donors were able to see that a trusted institution would dole out the gifts in an impartial way.
  • Power of opportunity-people were asked to give and churches don’t do that enough. Every church has opportunities to be generous in their neighborhood and city-look for them and challenge everyone to join in.
  • Power of meeting other needs-money is the easiest way to give but there was also a request for clothing, school supplies, etc. for the students. This provides people a chance to give in other ways if they don’t have money to share. Look for creative ways for everyone to participate.

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