The Five Biggest Misconceptions about Transformational Giving, Part I: ‘We don’t have to talk about money’

Today we begin a five-part series designed to dispel the most popular misconceptions that cling to Transformational Giving. We begin with the most common misconception of all, which goes something like this.

Wow! I’m so glad I came to this Transformational Giving seminar! It validates what I’ve always believed, which is that I don’t need to ask people for money.

It’s understandable how that misconception arises. After all, Transformational Giving principle 8 says:

Giving is not the process but rather one vital result of the process of a champion being comprehensively coached to share the cause effectively within his or her sphere of influence.

That almost sounds like, ‘Don’t worry about talking about money. People will give money if you talk about everything else.’ But that notion is dispelled by Transformational Giving principle 9, which says:

Giving is learned, not latent.

So let’s spend a few minutes talking about how and when and why we talk about money in Transformational Giving.

The place to begin is Ephesians 4:7-13, from whence Transformational Giving draws its charter. That passage shows a giving progression that goes as follows:

  • God gives leaders to His people
  • Those leaders prepare God’s people for works of service
  • The Body of Christ, having been built up by these leaders, attains the full maturity and measure of Christ and renders its full harvest to God

This is a complete inversion of traditional/transactional Christian fundraising, which has the arrows running in the opposite direction:

  • God gives gifts to His people
  • God’s people support leaders by giving those gifts to them
  • Leaders render the work unto God

In that latter scenario, the result is completed work. In the former scenario, the result is a completed church. Guess which one God is after? (Note that it’s possible to accomplish the first without the second, but it’s not possible to accomplish the second without also accomplishing the first in the process.)

That’s why TG  9 says that giving is not the process but is the result of the process. Giving–fundraising–is just not a big enough word to describe the process. The process is sanctification–growing in Christian maturity in relation to the cause. Generosity is one of the fruits of that process.

So if generosity is a fruit of the process, won’t it just happen automatically if we work on everything else?

Answer: No.


Sanctification is a Holy Spirit process. We can’t make it happen; however, there are a couple of things that we can do and that as Christian leaders we are called to do in support of and collaboration with the Holy Spirit:

  • We can help the individual we’re coaching search the Scriptures in order to understand what God has in mind for all Christians (and thus for them) in relation to the cause–the general will of God, or ‘What God has in mind for all Christians in relation to this cause’.
  • We can serve as a platform or gymnasium in which the individual carries out that general will of God in relation to the cause.
  • We can mentor the person in relation to the cause, encouraging them to imitate us as we carry out our calling related to the cause.
  • We can serve as mutual accountability partners in (1) helping each other know and carry out God’s general will for us in relation to the cause; and (2) discerning what God has for us specifically in relation to the cause–our ‘calling’.

So the question remains: Can all of the above be done–can the person be coached to full maturity in Christ in relation to the cause–without talking to the individual about his or her giving to the cause?

I would be absolutely flummoxed if anyone could straight-facedly answer that question in the affirmative.

It would be like saying, ‘I think an individual could grow to fullness in Christ in the cause in the area of prayer without us working through some specific prayer disciplines.’

Or, ‘I think an individual could grow to fullness in Christ in the cause in the area of their actions without us working through some specific projects or involvement opportunities.’

Giving, in other words, has to be an intentional area of growth in which we openly coach each champion. They don’t naturally become more giving people as we work on everything else. Giving isn’t latent inside them. And even though generosity is a fruit of Christian maturity, fruit grows from a seed, and that seed has to have a field where it can be planted.

In other words, the Holy Spirit brings the growth. Prayerfully and scripturally we seek to supply the opportunity and the coaching, not with our own needs at the forefront but with a clear sense of where the champion currently is and what giving opportunities are next steps the Holy Spirit can use.

That’s why talking to a champion about giving is different than simply asking them for money for what we need.

When we talk to them about giving we are helping them to understand the general will of God in relation to the cause and then discern the specific will of God related to their part in it. So we can (and need to) help them understand that they’re called to give in relation to the cause, but we can’t presume to know that they’re called to give to this specific project for which we’re raising funds. We can, however, say, ‘This project seems like a good fit based on the goals we set together. What do you think?’

Sum it up and say:

What drives the giving process in Transformational Giving is not our organization’s need or the champion’s comfort level, but what Scripture calls them to do generally and what the Holy Spirit is calling them to do specifically. As leaders, we’re called to help each champion walk in the works God has prepared for them. That requires open and honest conversation, even–and often especially–in the area of giving.

And, as God would have it, not infrequently an area of need for us turns out to be the perfect giving opportunity to challenge a champion and bring them growth in relation to the cause.

As with all things related to Transformational Giving, trust in God that this will be the case is what enables us to set aside concerns we have about whether He’ll supply. Scarcity concerns should never drive our conversations with champions. Instead, we should be driven by a commitment to help every champion grow to the fullness of Christ in relation to the cause we share. When we’re talking to them in this way, rather than out of self-interest–when we’re talking about God’s call for the champion to give rather than about our need to receive–it’s s amazing how our own need always gets met.

Tomorrow’s misconception: ‘Transformational Giving takes a long time to get results compared to traditional/transaction fundraising.’

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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3 Responses to The Five Biggest Misconceptions about Transformational Giving, Part I: ‘We don’t have to talk about money’

  1. Pingback: The Five Biggest Misconceptions About Transformational Giving, Part II: ‘It takes longer to see results’ « Transformational Giving

  2. Pingback: Generosity coaches are necessary because giving is learned, not latent in donors « Transformational Giving

  3. Pingback: We get letters: When is it OK for a nonprofit to ask for money to meet a need? « Transformational Giving

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