Wondering If Anyone Will Match My Two Cents

I have debated in my mind for quite some time whether I should post this or not.  Ultimately two points pushed me over the edge to do so.  First, every time I read the article I link to below I get find that my problems with it do not diminish.  Second, hardly anyone reads this blog so if I am wrong then my damage will be minimal.  Of course, if I am right, which I think I am, then any impact will be wimpy at best.

With that little introduction I want to give my two cents about the whole idea of matching gifts to charities.  It happens quite often and as best as I can figure someone has a chunk of money, let’s just say about $270,000 and they decide to donate it to some worthy cause.  Let’s just say that the cause is one that prints and distributes bibles. So they write a check, send it to the organization and moves on.  Their prayer is that the Lord uses this amount in a wonderful manner and that many who do not have the Word of God might finally own a copy.  Except that is not what happens.

Instead the person contacts the said bible organization and tells them that they desire to give up to $270,000 as a matching gift.  Cool!  Now, if a whole bunch of other people hear about this then they can send in their smaller amounts, hopefully to the total amount of $270,000 and the organization now has $540,000.  But implicit in this whole scenario is that if only $100,000 is brought in from others then that amount is matched and the group gets $200,000. Am I the only person who finds this remotely offensive?

Here is my point, if the person who is doing the matching gift offer is really going to give that whole amount, then why even bother with claiming that he/she is going to match any giving up to that amount? At what point does that become manipulation and even dishonesty?  Recently Crossway sent out a letter that exploded on several blogs related to a matching grant that, amazingly enough, matches the dollar amount I referenced above. Read carefully this quote (emphasis through bold is added):

We have been offered a matching grant in the amount of $270,000, if we are able to raise an additional $270,000 to match the grant.

The purpose of the grant is to help provide the Bible and Bible learning resources free to 1 million people globally—free via the Internet, and free globally, anywhere and everywhere, on every major tablet and smart phone device—particularly to people in great need in China, India, and Africa.

Now I know I am not the brightest nor the greatest mind trotting around blogdom, but this is wrong in my book. We have people with great need and the ability to provide them the Bible free.  But all of this is only if this donor can manipulate others to have the same passion he has to donate money to Crossway. And that is what I see happening.  If the donor has this burden, then he should give.  But he should not use his burden to manipulate others to have a similar (though with less money) burden.

Well, the plan worked and the money was raised.  They praise God who did more than they thought they could ask or think. But I don’t get the sense it was God as much as it was manipulation.  Was this intentional?  I highly doubt it.  But it is manipulation still.  Why not simply send the letter out and say, “Hey, we received a very gracious gift of X amount. It helps us reach halfway to the amount needed to do Y task.  We want you to know about this and would like you to consider giving something toward it as well.”

I have personally made the decision that I will not give to a need when it is marketed in the manner of a matching grant.  I just want organizations to ask. No gimmicks at all.

Well, that is my two cents.  I wonder now if someone might match that and help me understand why this is a proper way to do business for the Kingdom.

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Church and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I guess I don’t find it that offensive. It generates interest where it may have otherwise been nominal and motivates people to give who otherwise probably wouldn’t. Both the big giver and the little giver compound the investment.

    There was the potential that no one would get bibles. But the offer generated the potential of doubling what the big giver could have done on his own – so it goes both ways. I would argue the psychology behind “Big Giver just gave us $270K – how about giving something yourself” would actually result in a drop in donations because it is now a comparison and comparatively your little donation is not longer critical or important.

  2. I got that from Crossway too probably because I have 1/2 dozen ESV’s. I had exactly the same thought you did, but like you doubt it’s manipulation, more like, heh, be part of the team, let’s see if we can do this. I would hope the guy gives the full amount whether or not enough people ante up. I think there are some limited circumstance where a matching grant is okay, but by and large think it’s lame.

  3. Cindy and I attended a church that was involved in a Building Program and the Fund Raiser/Builders (same church expansion outfit) set up a Dog and Pony Show in the Foyer for several weeks with games and a Carnival thing that when a building bond was sold with a return of 7%, someone would whack the thing with a mallet and ring this huge gong. During the Circus, I was in a Mens Bible Study in an adjoining room.
    The topic of discussion in the Study was about all the things wrong with the Roman Cathoilic Church depending on money raised from their Summer festivals and Beer tents and Liquor raffles to fund their Schools and needs. I saw little difference between that and our promise of the 7% return rewarding our “generous hearts”, so I asked the question. If you have that kind of money in the bank and you’re commited to the Church, why not just write the check? I was provided with several instant answers, all couched in Stewardship and Wisdom language. One of us missed the point. I didn’t buy the argument then, and I don’t buy it now. Then again, maybe the Biblical return on investments in Heaven is less than the 7% promised by the developers……

  4. I have no doubt that there are probably 3 people less than before who will read your Blog….No worries, I’ll read it 4 times myself. You’re up by one.

  5. If we’re in, you’re in……………Us

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