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Four steps to cultivate a generosity mindset

Matt Holderness portrait Matt Holderness
4 min

The Stewardship Generosity Report 2024 highlights that counteracting cultural norms is a key factor in nurturing a generosity mindset. 

While personal factors like depth of faith and emotional connections to causes can play a positive role in cultivating generosity, the research also suggests that certain prevailing cultural norms can inhibit and negatively impact levels of generosity. Addressing these norms constructively can create an environment conducive to greater generosity. We believe that four aspects in particular can be shifted through positive promotion:

1. Self-sacrifice over self-centeredness

The foremost reason why people restricted their giving was their perceived capacity to meet their own financial needs. This often results in an inward focus, but can also sometimes be related to caring for the needs of immediate family and friends.

With balance in mind, a gentle encouragement to adopt a more self-sacrificial perspective could counteract the self-centred mindset. Focussing on the wider needs of others, especially those not known personally, can often generate a positive response. Promoting self-sacrificial values could involve highlighting examples of how one's generosity can positively impact the lives of those in need

Some of the donors interviewed already demonstrated an outward looking orientation and how their giving went beyond just monetary generosity. In these instances, their focus was often on volunteering their time and giving physical resources to causes. This is something that could also be leaned into when offering alternatives to giving of oneself for the needs of others.

Putting it into action - Think about generating direct social proofs or specific value driven requests as these can be helpful for givers to more deeply connect their gift to the impact it can have. Storytelling can also play a role in fostering an others-oriented mindset by sharing real-life accounts of how generosity has transformed lives. You could create blog content that focusses on the benefit of showing compassion, empathy and considering the needs of others.

2. Giving over hoarding

The cultural landscape in the UK often encourages a mindset of materialism and overconsumption. Spending can often be elevated as a form of self-expression and borrowing is regularly incentivised over saving or giving.

To nurture generosity that runs counter to this, it is necessary to uplift the values of careful stewardship, delayed gratification, and redistributing one's resources through giving. Some of the generous givers interviewed who resisted the cultural urge to overconsume cited budgeting for giving as an intentional practice that allowed them to positively control their giving.

Putting it into action - Think about promoting giving over overconsumption. This could include content that highlights biblical teachings and ethical arguments for living within one's means, avoiding excessive borrowing, and purposefully allocating funds towards charitable causes. Practical money management guidance that incorporates giving as a financial goal could also help reframe cultural narratives around spending.

3. Abundance over scarcity

While the research acknowledges the real economic pressures many face amidst the rising costs of living, it also identifies a broader cultural sense of scarcity and a desire to build one's own security at all costs.

To foster generosity, it is vital to counteract this scarcity mindset by empathically helping people identify areas of abundance, whether material resources or non-material forms of wealth like faith, community and purpose. The generous givers who demonstrated a mindset of sufficiency and trust that their needs would be provided for, allowed them to share from what they had rather than hoarding out of a sense of scarcity.

Putting it into action - Think about creative ways that you could remind people of bible passages that encourage gratitude, contentment and faith in God's provision. Personal testimonies of those who have experienced the rewards of generous giving despite modest means could also inspire a mindset of abundance over scarcity.

4. Trust over cynicism

In a cultural climate of self-interest and frequent exposés of corruption, it is easy for people to become cynical and suspicious of the motives of others, this includes charitable organisations.

For generous givers to choose to have faith in the good intentions of the majority, while accepting that some may fall short of ethical standards, it is necessary to build trust and counter undue cynicism. Ultimately, promoting a spirit of trust over excessive cynicism can create an environment where people feel their generosity will be well-stewarded.

Putting it into action - think about how your organisation can foster trust through robust financial transparency, governance and accountability along with clear communication of how funds are administered and the outcomes that are achieved. It would also be helpful to create content that reminds people of biblical teachings on maintaining pure motives while extending grace when people or institutions fail to live up to ideals.


More about the generosity mindset and charitable giving

For further insights and detailed findings, read the Stewardship Generosity Report 2024, and take a look at our recommendations and resources blog.

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Written by

Matt Holderness

Matt joined Stewardship in 2022 with over twenty years of marketing experience from roles at Kendal College and Capernwray Bible School. He has degrees in Business and Marketing, Theology, Management and most recently a Masters in Hermeneutics. 

Through raising awareness of Stewardship’s services, Matt helps people explore the impact their generosity can have on the church and Christian charities. He’s passionate about supporting Evangelism and Bible causes, and has a particular interest in charities that are helping people in Poverty and Debt in the UK.