Unpacking the definition of Transformational Giving

At the start of the month, I fired my initial shot over the bow in preparation for the Transformational Giving seminars I’ll be teaching across the western U.S. in May, Lord permitting. That initial shot took the form of a definition of Transformational Giving:

Transformational Giving is a collaboration between you and God in which He infuses your corporate and personal assets with His grace as you offer them in the way He asks to the people and purposes that He directs.

Today, Mission Increase Foundation Colorado Giving and Training Officer Suzanne Dubois asked me to unpack this a bit more.

I recommend breaking the definition up into five pieces:

1. Transformational giving is a collaboration between you and God

 Most of the time we think of giving as something we do. But the Bible shows us that when God is on the scene, giving is not something we do. It’s a collaboration between us and God that occurs at God’s invitation. There’s no such thing as an act of authentic giving that God’s not on in. Giving can’t start with us. It can’t be done just by us. It’s not us initiating anything, and it’s not even us responding to anything. It’s something that can only be done with God. Simultaneously. Giving is a dance with God. (That dance looks nothing like this.)


2. in which He infuses your corporate and personal assets with His grace

 To infuse means to fill something in such a way that it completely saturates it. Personal assets are all the valuable things we have personally—our money, our possessions, our time, our emotions, our passions, our creativity. Corporate assets are the valuable things we have through our associations with other people—our friendships, our networks, our influence. In TG, God fills those assets to the point of saturating them. What does He fill them with? His grace. So our money becomes something more than money (and not just more money). Our time becomes something more than time. Consider the boy with the fishes and the loaves: his lunch becomes something more than lunch. This happens in the actual act of giving—hence the word “simultaneously” above.


3. as you offer them

 Transformational Giving is always an offering to God. It may happen through a nonprofit (or it may not), but it is always an offering to the Lord. So it is offered reverently, humbly, expectantly, worshipfully, without thought of return, and without preconception of what God will do with it. The moment it becomes rote, it becames as refreshing as stale, warm Mountain Dew left in the car. We don’t look to the nonprofit to transform the gift. We look to God to do that.


4. in the way He asks

 If we listen carefully, God will always give us directives about our giving, and those directives extend far beyond ‘when’, ‘to whom’, ‘how much’, and ‘for what’. God will often give us detailed instructions as to how. ‘Throw the net on the other side of the boat’, ‘Go catch a fish and open its mouth’, ‘Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come and follow me’ are the words of a God who pays exquisite attention to detail. How we give is at least as important to God as what, when, and why, yet this is the dimension of giving that draws the least attention in contemporary practice.


5. to the people and purposes that He directs.

 God calls us to give in ways that directly connect us with the recipients of our giving and with the cause. In TG, we don’t give to charity; we give through charity. That is to say, organizations are not the recipient of our donations; they are the means by which we are extended to encounter the recipient and the cause directly. That’s God’s way. He came Himself to give Himself. He didn’t send an intermediary. He doesn’t want us to utilize nonprofits as intermediaries, because He is at least as concerned that we be changed through our giving as that the recipient of our gift be blessed.


Much more to come in our Transformational Giving seminars in May, but I trust this will furrow Suzanne’s brow sufficiently for now.

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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1 Response to Unpacking the definition of Transformational Giving

  1. Karla Roe says:

    Love the thought that “giving is a dance with God.” [And love the dance video too!]
    Great to read your insight as I prepare for more seminar calls! Thanks-

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