IT IS BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE. So the old slogan goes.
True, is it not? There is something special about giving, special in terms of emotions, feelings, gratitude and even return. For a gift to someone is something that person does not have, and they very much want or more importantly, need. It is good to give.
There are indeed many ways to give. One can give of course money and so many do, a good thing. One can also give a product, or a service and both are good. One can also give time and perhaps the giving of time, special time is the best of all gifts. One can also give expertise, advice, counseling, educating, like a lawyer with a heart defending a fellow human being with no money. Or Sunday school teachers teaching Scripture and the right way of life. Teachers tutoring on their own time. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters working pro bono for entities like Habitat for Humanity, building homes for the homeless. Most of us give money, whether large or small and so many of us, people of faith, tithe, whether 10% more or less. Money seems to be the basic means of giving and all are good.
A gift comes from the heart. A gift comes with loving intentions. Like at Christmas, God came down in the form of Jesus Christ and gave humanity THE SUPREME GIFT, the BABE OF BETHLEHEM. Small wonder then in return that the divine admonition was that:
WE SHOULD LOVE THE LORD OUR GOD WITH ALL OF HEART, STRENGTH AND MIND AND OUR NEIGHBORS AS OURSELVES.
Love begets love, love from the giver and love from the receiver.
Tis the season not just to be jolly but to give. So many give at yearend, perhaps for two primary reasons. First, the donor knows where he or she stands financially at yearend and what amount can be given. That seems prudent, well planned and wise in the making. But another reason for yearend giving is tax-driven. We can determine how much and to whom we give and chart the tax consequences, the benefits of the gift as a tax deduction. It seems as though the charitable giver can make the gift and take the tax deduction without tarnishing the motivation for the gift for it allows the civil side, governments at all levels to participate by contributing tax considerations as a result of the gift itself, therefore participating in the gift, compounding it as such. No matter the posture of his administration, it is good for Obama and company to allow IRS-driven deductions for gifts to Christian and conservative organizations, don’t you think? A Lois Lerner IRS has made that much more difficult but it is done no matter.
2,000 years ago wise men came bearing gifts, the best of the times. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, incredibly expensive in those times to honor the Babe of Bethlehem. Nothing, these wise men thought, nothing but the very best for this Son of God. Giving is interesting for the more we give, the better we give, the more we get. Giving done right is its own reward. Those who receive can be grateful and thankful but that is not necessary. The reward to the donor is in the act of giving itself, especially when that giving is in abundance, well beyond the minimum, well beyond the 10% requirement.
Many believe that a tithe, a 10% requirement is a minimum. More than that should be given to others, charitable works, Christian works and to the Lord of Glory, the Babe of Bethlehem. More and much more. In fact, for people of faith, there is the Biblical admonition that one in faith, hope and love should be ready at all times to give all, to lay all on the altar. All possessions, all things, even life itself. For that is the ultimate gift that one should lay down his life for another as occurred for all mankind in 33 AD. The accumulation of worldly goods ACCOMPLISHES little. To be a wise investor, one should lay up treasures in heaven where moth does not corrupt nor thieves steal. Giving with heaven in mind produces eternal returns here and now and forevermore.
Recall if you will the widow’s mite. Others in the process gave more, one at a time, waiting for acknowledgement. None came for it was all about the amount and not the heart. Then came the widow offering a mere mite, worth very little but it was all, ALL she had. That gift was acknowledged, that gift had eternal ramifications for those who read Scripture remember her story of giving forevermore. We get more, more satisfaction, more spiritual reward when we give from our necessity rather than from our abundance. It is so much easier to give when one has much and so hard when one has little.
There are those who do well financially, prosper greatly and accumulate enormous sums of wealth. There are men like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who have amassed fortunes no ordinary human being can understand, fortunes in the tens of billions of dollars. They have tremendous opportunities to GIVE-BACK. Hence, the Gates foundation which does excellent things for humanity, including vaccinations and inoculations, so desperately needed to prevent plagues in third world countries, considerable research in HIV and AIDS and food for the hungry just to name some. There are excellent charitable works like Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, MD Anderson Cancer Society, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, a wonderful organization which gives 100% of all donations to fund medical aid and research for children with cancer who have no insurance and can not afford to pay for any treatment, God bless them, and so many others. There are indeed those men and women who really want to make money work and do the right thing. They the people want to run the charities, make the decisions and accomplish the results. Most if not all of those charities want no part of government. Government decision making can in so many cases be wasteful, preferential, biased and ineffective. Get government out of the way and do the right thing, the moral thing, the spiritual thing, the human thing which government can never do. So many give up their time and ask you and me to give of our money, and even our very own time with theirs. We can do so again with the aid of government which, federal and state, allows us to pay less taxes as we do more for humanity with our time and money.
Therefore, those like the Salvation Army ask aggressively and courageously for your money so that you can join with them in their humanitarian purposes, participate by giving. Then comes the spiritual soldier at Christmas, ringing the bell standing at the guard over the pot which contains the gifts, asking for yours. It is good to give to them and all like them. It is good to give-back, knowing that a gift will help some less fortunate than us meeting need and spreading joy, especially at Christmastime. Even as the wise men gave the very best and most expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, so should we give the very best, give back to others. Nothing brings more joy at Christmas, or for that matter, all year long. Nothing.
It is never the amount or the value of the gift, never. It is not what one gives, but why one gives. The heart directs a gift not the head. The loving heart perfects the give. The more the love in the heart of the donor, the more the love on the part of the donee in return, a sort of SPIRITUAL QUID PRO QUO. No return can match cheerful appreciation, joyful recognition of a gift from the one receiving. That feeling of joy and gratitude can last a lifetime.
And then comes the church and the synagogue, where so much giving occurs. We tithe and we should at a 10% benchmark, more or less. But for those with a Christian heart and the spreading of the Gospel, it is often more and sometimes much more for special causes and purposes in which we wish to participate to be part of something special, beyond ourselves. There is generous even extraordinary philanthropy in Judaism and fundraising for worthy purposes is legendary. Many entire nations fund state sponsored religion like Islam on the part of Saudi Arabia. Even oppressive regimes like Iran demand the faithful obedience to and worship by Islamic principles. Give and do whether you want to or not. In many cases, the individual heart seems not to matter and it seems the giving becomes the taking. Whenever the heart is missing, the so-called gift, the money is corrupted and used for purposes not humanitarian or loving.
But a giver, a donor should be careful when giving. There are those individuals and entities ready and willing to corrupt a gift, abuse it and misuse it for selfish purposes. There are those who take advantage of the gift, making false representations, finding ways to manipulate and use the monies for selfish purposes or ways unintended. There are organizations which have large salaries, considerable benefits and expenses though perhaps legal which may be excessive. The American Red Cross, for example, pays its President and CEO some $651,000 annually in salary and compensation and offers an extremely large expense account in addition. That seems excessive, very much so, don’t you think? I wonder what those who give so readily and generously to the American Red Cross would think of that organization if the donors knew that fact. Would a donor give as much, or at all?
And then there is the March of Dimes. One pundit indicated that the organization is called the March of Dimes because for every $1.00 given, only approximately 10 cents is given to the needy. That fact is determined by their publicly released financial statements. That is a tragedy and even though that can be accomplished without legal ramifications, it is a clear misuse and abuse of monies given, don’t you think? One should know the organization and the end results, the true results from the funds raised and the benefit to humanity before giving. The head at work directs the heart.
And then there is the United Way which pays its President $375,000 annually plus benefits, considerable benefits and expenses. Does that seem excessive to you? Or perhaps a real eye-popping example on the part of non-profit UNICEF. That organization pays its CEO $1,200,000 per year. The UNICEF CEO earns $100,000 per month, paid by your money, your gifts and in addition considerable benefits and all expenses, and get this, the use of a Rolls Royce, A ROLLS ROYCE NO LESS as the CEO goes about her business. Recent reports well analyzed indicate that UNICEF donates less than 5 cents of every dollar to the purposes of its cause. Facts and figures may vary year to year, but the trend, the pattern, the process of misuse of funds goes on, and unfortunately without accountability. What a tragedy that gifts from well-meaning givers, loving givers are redirected, misused and never find their ultimate purpose.
Every gift has a quid quo pro component. That is, there is benefit to the donor, the joy and fulfillment of the gift given, but more. The recipient, the donee must get the gift as the giver intended so that the gift can be used for the purpose intended. So often that does not happen. Gifts given even with purpose, even with condition are often redirected, misdirected and misused. Those who do so have little accountability and can get away with so much. And then there are so-called non-profit organizations like the Clinton Foundation, an entity which many think corrupt top to bottom. This Clinton organization pays enormous salaries, indulges in excessive expenses and otherwise uses funds as it sees fit with so little monies delegated to its stated purposes. Those who give to the Clinton Foundation, wealthy individuals, corporations, international entities and even nations-countries themselves do so with an expectation of consideration and return:
POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL FAVORS FROM THE CLINTONS
Nothing is more corrupt and nothing is a greater abuse of the non-profit giving process. In fact, at its extreme, such non-profit procedure is in fact illegal and many think criminal. But you may be certain that the Clinton Foundation, like so many others self-serving will never be really held accountable for such potential and actual illegal activities, much less the general misuse and abuse of monies given.
But there are so many good, legitimate and well run non-profit entities. Like the Salvation Army. The Commissioner, the head man of the Salvation Army receives an annual salary of, are you ready for this:
$13,000 PER YEAR
And a housing allowance. That is the total compensation of Commissioner Todd Bassett who in return runs a $2 billion organization. That sounds like a man working for and paid as a result of a loving heart and a willingness to give back to humanity, does it not?
And then there is the American Legion and its national commander who receives ZERO SALARY, nothing, no compensation for running this good organization. God bless that person. Or the veterans of foreign wars, its national commander who receives ZERO SALARY. What an act of charitable love.
Or the Disabled American Veterans and its national commander who receives ZERO SALARY. A beautiful human being at work.
And, ZERO SALARY for the national commander of the Military Order of Purple Hearts, the Vietnam Veterans Association, Make a Wish Foundation and St. Jude Research Hospital. ZERO SALARY! God bless the leaders of these good organizations who mean what they say and say what they mean. Honest to the core and their financial statements verify that.
Contrast that with our federal government as it doles out its entitlements, its so-called giving which results so often in billions of dollars of waste, fraud and misuse. There really is no ultimate accountability for federal and state government giving (entitlements) and we the people come to expect that, even accept that all the while there are different standards of accountability for non-profit organizations public and private, especially those with causes CHRISTIAN OR CONSERVATIVE. There are certain types and kinds of giving and gifts which are not deductible or only partially so. The federal government is intent upon controlling the gift and the deductibility as much as possible. When working for a non-profit corporation, only certain expenses can be deducted. Gifts of property in kind, like art or automobiles have very strict guidelines and regulations with respect to giving and deductibility. Some are necessary and good but all find themselves under the control of federal or state governments. Giving then becomes a head game and not from the heart. One has to research and investigate, even seek the advice of an accountant or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in order to make certain that the gift is accurate, efficient and legal. It is as though giving becomes more like investment controlled and regulated which can do harm to the heart. Giving can become so complicated that it seems no longer like giving.
Any individual entity which accepts gifts should be held fully accountable. Mailboxes are full of direct mail asking for money. Emails and texts do the same, asking for money. The marketing is elaborate, the requests well done and written by those who know how to motivate giving. They tug on the heartstrings, using all emotions, including concern and fear, love and empathy and so much else. They ask for your monies and state the ultimate use of those monies in generalities. But in so many cases, there is no accountability, no follow-up, no report to the donor of the net effect, the bottom line of the gift and results it produced. We allow that to happen time and again. We give to political organizations without accountability. We participate in surveys but only as we give, hardly ever knowing the results of surveys or being assured of follow-up after the fact. We give to large non-profit entities like the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and so many others never knowing how our gift was applied or the results achieved from our hard-earned money. Business as usual for the entity when the gift is given. We seem to give in generalities with the hope sometimes not even the expectation, that our gift will be used as intended and result in benefit for mankind. But so often we never really know for sure. We never get the results.
Every charity, public or private must be registered with the federal government and approved by the IRS. The appropriate tax code section is:
Non-profit entities must abide by the terms and conditions of that tax code provision or the public charter, the right to accept gifts and consequently the deductibility of those gifts would be revoked. Non-profit organizations are required to file tax forms and otherwise in many cases publish financial statements available to the giving public. The prudent giver should know that and in so many cases should ask-require that an organization produce a financial statement which done right accounts for every dollar and otherwise complies with IRS requirements. The giver can then at least know much more about the credibility of the organization, how it applies its funds and whether or not the gift as intended was used accordingly. At this Christmas season, and yearend, we the givers should demand that kind of accountability, transparency and financial accountability in every way. A gift given without proper vetting, given to an individual or entity who will misuse is a gift incomplete and robbed of its charitable intention. Direct your gift, my fellow Americans and follow that gift to the end result, the objective you intended. Money given is precious and make sure it is used right.
And then there are those who despair of government and its entitlements on the one hand and large public charities on the other, believing that they are inefficient, wasteful, often misusing or abusing funding and gifting and these charitable-philanthropic individuals want to do things differently. THEY START THEIR OWN:
PRIVATE NON-PROFIT FOUNDATION
Entertainers and actors do that. Wealthy businesspersons so the same. Athletes, incredibly wealthy and well-intended start their own foundations and non-profit organizations. They adopt causes and attempt to do charitable things right. They, with their hand-picked Board of Directors make the decisions and direct the use of the funds. So many take no compensation and any funds as given are used as represented. That is such a very good thing and necessary in a day and age gilded, corrupted and often immoral. Some few perhaps are operated illegally, immorally or even criminally but for the most part, the vast majority are good for America and adopt purposes and objectives which would otherwise not be accomplished.
Many specialize in very specific causes. For example, rather than cancer generally. Some such good private non-profit organizations will focus on a cancer, such as lymphoma, or myeloma, or pancreatic cancer and fund research for the cure. Good organizations, purposeful and directed.
Then there are those private non-profit organizations which may provide legal services for the poor, for causes, representation which is otherwise unavailable or unaffordable. Like Judicial Watch, ACLJ, Rocky Mountain Legal Associates and the like. Good works, purposeful and committed to specific causes often ignored by large non-profits. They are worthy of vetting and funding.
We the Crawford Broadcasting Company have started and funded our very own private non-profit corporations. The one Christian and spiritual in nature:
THE YOUNG PEOPLES CHURCH OF THE AIR
And the other secular in purpose:
THE PERCY FUND
Each organization is comprised of a Board of Directors and Officers, and functions with donations from private individuals and gives to well vetted Christian non-profit organizations on the one hand and conservative secular non-profit entities on the other. It is entirely rewarding knowing that any and all monies received and given out by both organizations will be used entirely as intended. Each such organization demands follow-up, reporting, results and the constant flow of information. Officers and Directors often travel at their expense to personally investigate the organization and its charitable activities. The Board of Directors of each of our organizations makes certain that we do everything humanly possible to make certain giving achieves its end purpose. We think of such giving as an investment rather than a mere gift. We are investing in mankind spiritually and physically. We intend the growth of the heart and the body. We hunt for cures spiritually and physically. We want, as the old saying goes, to make the world a better place in our own small way. The rewards of such giving are enormous.
Our two non-profit corporations pay no salaries, no benefits, no compensation of any kind. When legitimate expenses are incurred, they are fully reimbursed by one or more Directors so that each of our non-profit organizations can say with the fullest integrity that every dollar given is given out in return. EVERY DOLLAR! We are proud of that integrity at work and we rest comfortable with the full assurance that operating with standards high and demanding allows our giving to be as productive as humanly possible. You as you can should do the same. Think, vet, investigate before you give. That money you give is yours, so often hard-earned and it should be given with the very highest of assurances. Get from your gift not only the joy of giving but perhaps the greater joy of getting back the joy and gratitude of the recipient.
Now comes Politics 2016. Literally billions of dollars will be given to political parties, political causes and politicians. Billions upon billions even though all such gifts are not tax-deductible. And in fact, there are minimums applied for such giving but nonetheless billions will be raised. Such funds are called gifts, but in reality, they are not gifts. They are in investments with the expectation of return, full consideration as a result of the gift. Donors expect results, political results for the world at large, our very own nation and including and especially their own self-interests. Such funding-giving may be necessary but it lacks any spiritual or charitable motivation. That kind of political investment should never, ever replace true spiritual giving and giving from the heart. NEVER!
Then there is the ultimate, the final giving. There comes that time for all mankind when life is over and you and I are replaced by an estate. We will to others and especially our family what we have and as we can, that is whatever is left after federal, state and local government exacts their share of our estates enlarged inheritance taxes. Each of us should carefully think through how we give at death even as we do in life. We should use our wealth, our possessions for good. Many do everything possible to make certain the government gets as little as possible in taxes, creating estate plans for wealth management and carry-on after death as much as possible. We should do the very best we can to make certain that what we have worked for in life carries on after death. Inheritance should be for those well-deserving and right-thinking. No one is entitled including and especially family, or friends or any entity. We should do what is right as we are led but we should do it right. So many have poorly executed or no will at all. Many know little or care less about legal consequences at death. Tragically, so much money and so many assets are wasted because of such personal negligence. An estate, well-structured and well done with trusts, well-appointed executors and advisors is our last opportunity to give and give right. You should make sure you do that no matter how much or how little you have or leave. Make certain your final act of giving in this life, your will, is done right.
So now we come to this blessed season, yearend. We celebrate joyfully Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Babe of Bethlehem. We celebrate Hanukkah and all that it means, such a cherished several days of joy and giving on the part of Jewish brethren. There are other holidays and celebrations for other cultures and religions, all occurring at yearend with an opportunity for all to engage and be joyful. It is a wonderful season, December is, it is followed by the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations, resolutions and hopefully, the expectation of a New Year of all things better, preceded by the last year which prayerfully ends well. Giving is such an integral part of the season. There is Santa Claus, and presents for children, and for adults. Loving gifts as expression of our love for others. December and yearend provides a season for celebration, joy, loving and GIVING. Let us celebrate, and let us give joyfully and lovingly to others, and for the benefit of mankind. The more we give the more we receive. The more an open heart opens a wallet, the better the world and the better are we. Let us never miss the opportunity to grow spiritually through the incredible act of giving.
We the Christians celebrate what we view as the greatest gift of God to mankind, namely the Babe of Bethlehem, the Christ of Glory. We celebrate that gift every day of the year and especially on the blessed Christmas Day. That gift is the supreme act of divine love and it should motivate us to give back all we can in return. Do it with all joy.
Nothing beats giving. NOTHING. Nothing beats the joy received from giving. NOTHING. Give, and give again, and give always.
God bless you.