"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.
This past Tuesday, 3 December, was the second annual ‘Giving Tuesday.’ Bill and Melinda Gates sent out an e-mail that describes the day and their involvement: ‘Giving Tuesday, the idea is to take one day out of your holiday shopping and dedicate it to giving back.’
The Giving Tuesday website lists lots of great organizations that need your support, and although Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, you can donate any time. Remarkably, the first campaign in 2012 demonstrated a spike in online giving of up to 53%. This year’s numbers are not in yet. Except for Charlotte.
Charlotte, a four year old in the UK, made her donation before Giving Tuesday. Like Bill and Melinda, Charlotte sent out an invitation to friends and family. But here’s the difference: Charlotte wanted to give on her birthday. She had never even heard of ‘Giving Tuesday.’ Charlotte invited her loved ones to come to her birthday party bringing not gifts for her, but donations to and her Mum’s favorite charity, charity: water .
How did she get so inspired to give to others? Charlotte watched a video with her mum, Claire. That’s how she started thinking about giving generously on her birthday to others. Together, mum and daughter made birthday party invitations with the request: ‘Instead of presents, please visit Charlotte’s charity’s page.’
Claire used give.net to set up a fundraising page and asked people to donate in her name in lieu of birthday presents to charity: water. How did it turn out?
Her friends, classmates and family loved the idea and donated almost £200. (She also got some small personal presents, like a mermaid cup.) Charlotte’s goal was £100. But the best bit: a little girl from her class brought an envelope with £10 in it to the party. Claire said to Charlotte, ‘Honey, you met your goal. Why don’t you keep this bit for yourself?’
‘No, mummy, those children need clean water. I want to help give it to them.’
How can you be like a generous child this season?
A resource: I have a friend who on Boxing Day-after the business, excesses, and joys of Christmas-sits down with his three children and plans what to give from a special Christmas present: stewardship vouchers. Each child gets a voucher and chooses to give the voucher to designated charity. Why? Part of understanding generosity is in being generous. How can your family give in a planned and thoughtful manner after Christmas? Here are some simple steps:
Order charity gift vouchers and pass on the gift of giving this Christmas...
To request your gift vouchers (available in £10s or £20s), gift cards and envelopes:
2. Click the Donate button and choose 'charity gift vouchers' from your recipient list
3. Enter the total amount
4. Enter your order details in the 'Reference' box (e.g. no. of vouchers & cards)
5. Orders will be posted to your account address within 2 working days.
Please order by 13th December to guarantee delivery before Christmas.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Official U.S. Navy
As part of the improvements to our IT systems we will be making some significant changes later on this week.
This includes relocating our systems to a new data centre; enhancing the performance, availability and security of our systems, while also ensuring they are ready to meet the demands of the future.
These improvements mean that, this Friday 6th December:
Our office will be closed on Friday 6th & Monday 9th December while we make these important upgrades.
We are very sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause and your patience is appreciated at this time. Our team will be working hard throughout the day on Friday to bring our systems back online as quickly as possible.
Some GASDS banana skins when converting from charitable trust to CIO.
As churches and charities get accustomed to claiming top up payments under the new Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS), some banana skins are emerging where the church or charity converts from a charitable trust to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) or other form of incorporated charity, such as a charitable company limited by guarantee. At the time of writing, these banana skins are not apparent within HMRC Guidance and can only be found by studying the finer print of the Small Charitable Donations Act and the regulations supporting the Act.
The key traps to avoid are:
- Very specific and short time limits for applying for an HMRC certificate to enable the new charity to continue to claim under the GASDS;
- Getting the application for a certificate right, first time;
- Ensuring that the application conditions are fully complied with;
- Planning to maximise the GASDS claims in the tax year of the conversion.
Our new Briefing Note “Beware! GASDS banana skins when converting from charitable trust to CIO” is available from our website here.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Richard North
Yes. It’s that time of the year again! The weeks (now months) during which we are bombarded by the media with images of the ‘perfect Christmas’. As we inevitably give in to pressure, we empty out our already light wallets. Personally, I’m trying to turn a blind eye to it all this Christmas. With our wedding coming up in April, I can’t really stretch to buying extravagant Christmas presents for anyone this time around.
But maybe I’m not the only one cutting back…
According to moneyfacts.co.uk, shoppers are planning to spend an average of £488 on Christmas this year. That’s 7% down on 2012's figure of £526, according to research from HSBC.
Are many of us feeling the pinch with this current economic climate? Are we tired of being sold the idea that in order to enjoy Christmas, we have to spend a bucket load of money? The inevitable result is that many get into debt, followed by the January blues and months of trying to pay it all back.
This weekend marks the significant time for retail in the U.S.A. ‘Black Friday’ as it’s known, is when shoppers go crazy over big reductions in stores across the country (‘Walmart massacres’ as described by my American colleague, Charlie). This is followed by a relatively new event called ‘Cyber Monday’ where the same applies for consumers at a range of online shopping sites. This shopping frenzy is known to bring many retailers ‘back into the black’ before the end of the year.
I must hold my hands up and say I’m guilty of having been quite extravagant with Christmas presents in the past (especially for my family), and with the UK seemingly adopting the Cyber Monday craze, it is tempting to spend. I really do get a buzz out of seeing a loved one unwrap something I’ve thoughtfully splashed out on and spent ages planning to get them.
However, do I need to repent of this form of generosity? Wouldn’t my money have gone further by being given to Salvation Army to help the homeless, or to Samaritan’s Purse for their Operation Christmas Child campaign? There are so many options out there to be generous in a different way.
On the flip side of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Giving Tuesday. This is a campaign in its second year, which advocates a national day of giving. People are encouraged give to support non-profit organisations and the United Nations Foundation is one of the major partners. In its first year, it is reported that some organisations processing donations in the U.S. saw the numbers rise by as much as 50% compared to the previous year.*
Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Does my sacrifice of generosity involve the revelation that my family and friends could probably live without that iTunes voucher or bottle of fancy perfume and that actually, would they be that bothered without it? And does it also involve the realisation that there is a real world out there full of people in need and crying out for someone to help them?
Could my generosity extend to those people instead? Instead of splashing out on presents, could I invite a struggling family for Christmas lunch? Could I volunteer in a soup kitchen for a couple of hours instead of spending five hours trawling the internet for deals on Cyber Monday?
In the end, as they say, actions speak louder than words. Maybe we could appreciate the loved ones in our lives all year round, without getting caught up in the tangled web of consumerism this Christmas.
In the end, it is what our Lord has told us to do.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by CJ Isherwood
“It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. . . The only basis for which God can forgive me is the Cross of Christ.” – Oswald Chambers
This quote had a massive impact on our CEO, Mike, who said:
‘The Cross is messy. Bloody. Painful. Humiliating. Torturous. It is by this Cross we are saved. By this we come to faith. Not because of love. Not because of generosity. Anyone can love. Anyone can be generous.'
Our God is a generous God who lavishes us with his love. However, as Mike pointed out, anyone can be generous. Our God redeemed us because of the cross.
The cross takes a higher place than our generosity, even God’s generosity. It’s the very reason for our salvation and the reason that we can say:
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
The cross is the life force of our generosity because He has removed all our baggage. The guilt, the shame, the unworthiness.
Without the cross, generosity is empty.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Keoni Cabral
Since September 2013, the Charity Commission has been opening statutory inquiries into charities that are late in filing their accounts for two or more years. There were three Christian charities named in the first twelve enquiries and a church PCC in the second list.
Not only is it a criminal offence to file a charity’s accounts late but the Commission regard it as a signal of mismanagement / misconduct in administration and governance, often associated with the misapplication or abuse of charitable funds.
Being subject to a very public Charity Commission inquiry can have a major negative impact, especially if the local press pick up on the matter. Therefore, charities should make sure that they have procedures in place to file your accounts on time. This includes making a timely start to gathering the information needed to prepare the accounts, as well as giving time for the drafting of the accounts and trustees report, for the independent examination or audit of those accounts and for dealing with any queries arising. Most charities accounts need to be filed with the Charity Commission within ten months of the charity’s financial year end.
If you would like to discuss any particular concerns with us, please contact Stephen Mathews, Head of our Independent Examinations Team on 020 8502 8588.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Ken Teegardin
‘No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent…’
On Friday 15 November, Mr. Richard Pulga, 27, died — essentially of a broken leg. He was alone on an island. He lived in the Philippines.
Just a week before, his piece of the continent was ripped apart by the strongest typhoon in the world this year, and now thought to be the most powerful ever to hit land.
The inhabitants of the Philippines are no strangers to typhoons, in fact this was the 25th tropical storm to hit the islands this year, but this one was like no other and its designation as a ’super typhoon’ only hints at the catastrophic results of its visit. Super Typhoon Haiyan brought heavy torrential rains to 33 provinces in Visayas, Bicol and northern Mindanao. Meteorologists had predicted that it was capable of causing the greatest wind damage from a tropical storm endured by any place on Earth in the past century. Millions indeed fell victim to it. Mr. Pulga’s story is one of theirs and should be part of ours. His leg was shattered by a coconut which the storm-force winds hurled at him like a cannonball. The father of two small children was taken to a local hospital, Eastern Visayas Regional. He lay there for days. The New York Times reported the details of his treatment from interviews with doctors at the two hospitals, Eastern Visayas Regional and St. Paul’s. Left unattended at Eastern Visayas Regional, his transfer to St. Paul’s for emergency care came too late to save him.
By the time Dr. Rodel Flores, a surgeon with a team of visiting doctors, found Mr. Pulga on Thursday, he had received no antibiotics or antiseptic and his leg was badly infected. The doctor ordered an emergency amputation to try to save his life. But the surgery was too late, and death soon followed. “In short,” Dr. Flores said, “it was preventable.”
Richard Pulga died at St. Paul’s Hospital. His wife, Marycris, was told by a security guard that her husband’s body would have to be buried in a mass grave if she could not remove it. She had no vehicle in which to transport it and sobbed for more than an hour, refusing to make a decision.
Mr Pulga’s story, and that of his surviving wife and family, is one of so many deeply affecting stories. Others’ stories will sadly remain unknown to us, but not to God. Each story, known or unknown, serves to remind us that we are all connected through our faith and through our humanity and we can all stand together in prayer.
Pray for the Philippines; pray for relief efforts and doctors and nurses and people on the ground as they labour in extremely difficult circumstances; pray for the governments and the peoples of our world to understand that all our actions and choices affect others. Pray for Mr. Pulga’s family; for his wife and two children. Pray for those who are in desperate need that they will experience God in the midst of their sufferings.
…Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.’ John Donne
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Something’s changing in the world of charity fundraising...
But to understand it, we need to go back in history. A long way back, to Germany in the murky days of the fifteenth century. In the barn of a young blacksmith/goldsmith/visionary sits the invention that will change not just the face of Christianity, but the entire course of human history.
Gutenburg’s invention of the moveable type printing press changed the way people shared knowledge. It signaled an end to the days when pupils learned by listening to, watching, and asking questions of their masters, a time that clever people with nice glasses now refer to as an Oral Culture. These were the days when we communicated our stories, our values and all the rest by word of mouth and face to face.
Stories were central to the process of education, and relationship was inextricably intertwined with understanding; getting to know something and someone were one and the same.
Then came the books. Thanks to the printing revolution, knowledge could be shared between a single author and an unlimited number of pupils, ushering the west towards what’s known as a Literate Culture. With the mass production of printed literature, the way that knowledge was communicated shifted. It became fixed, rigid, immovable, and gradually it changed the way we think. We evolved into something new: a culture that esteemed reason above all else.
But the world we live in today is not the same as it once was.
The days of Literate Culture have changed, thanks to the technological revolution that has been taking place over the last few decades. Thanks to the internet, the way we share knowledge today has far more in common with the days of the Oral Culture. We might not be communicating face to face – or, at least, not round some fireside with the stars lighting our gatherings – but we are connected to each other once more. Reason and rationalism have taken a back seat and the strengthening of relationship is once more twinned with the acquisition of knowledge.
Stories are back, only this time, we’re telling them about ourselves.
So what on earth has all this got to do with telethons? Quite a lot. Telethons – with their emotive appeals and one-hit, anonymous responses – belong to a time that is rapidly fading from memory.
Take a look at the way charities operate these days – especially the ones that are thriving – and you’ll see the various ways in which they appeal to the individual, inviting them to weave their own story into the wider narrative of the charity’s work. So instead of making a simple donation to a faceless organisation, we are invited to cycle across India, to turn our birthdays into fundraising opportunities and align our own personal brand with that of our chosen charity.
We give in ways that reflect our own personal passions, to causes that resonate with our own personal stories.
Do telethons make us more generous?
I doubt it. Then again, it’s hard to imagine that they really put anyone off who’s already committed to giving. But surely telethons will soon go the way of so many relics of the old order. Travel agents, bank managers and the days when school lessons consisted of copying out of a textbook will soon all be a distant memory.
The really important question to ask ourselves is this: will we let our stories merely revolve around us, or will we allow generosity to transform them into something truly God-inspired?
A few weeks ago we told you about The Christian New Media Awards for which we had been nominated for 2 awards:
Innovative Use of New Media in Outreach and People’s Choice Award.
We're pleased to say that we won both.
We are incredibly blessed and wish to thank every one of you that participated in the 40acts campaign by contributing ideas, taking part in the acts, and sharing with us on social media channels.
We are excited that acts of generosity can have a far reaching impact.
What would YOU like to see happen for 40acts 2014? Please comment below- all ideas are welcome!
Typhoon Haiyan is feared to have killed up to 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more in the Philippines.
The country’s president has declared a state of national calamity.
The Disaster’s Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched an appeal to help those affected by this disaster.
You can donate to this fund here*
Stewardship also supports a number of other recipients working in the Philippines, such as Tearfund(20021570)**, Christian Aid (20005801), British Red Cross (20033046), Save The Children (20021708), and many more. Please contact us if you would like further information on how you can donate.
At this time communication is impossible but we will add further updates to this page as news begins to come through.
* You can use this page to give with a debit or credit card, or from your giving account balance by logging in when prompted.
** Recipient's Stewardship account number
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.