Generosity coaches are necessary because giving is learned, not latent in donors

Interesting that shortly after I posted a general affirming review of Kathy LeMay’s The Generosity Plan, especially with regard to its democratization of philanthropy, I would run across a generally demeaning review of Kathy LeMay’s The Generosity Plan, a review that presupposes that philanthropy of course refers to folks with money and primarily has to do with their money rather than their morals.

In a post entitled Do the Wealthy Really Need Generosity Coaches?, Robert Frank not only answers in the negative but makes sport of the very idea:

Three years ago, the world was inundated with philanthropy advisers.

Their job: help the rich give away their money.

Then the recession caused a drop not just in philanthropy but also in the business of philanthropic advice. After all, the rich didn’t need to pay as many people to help give away their money if they had less money to give.

Now some philanthropy advisers are rebranding themselves as “generosity coaches,” making the whole business seem more a matter of good morals than big money.

But  Frank should know and acknowledge that income and generosity have always been inversely proportional in this country. As we’re fond of noting on this blog, the most generous people in the US by percentage of income are those with incomes below $30,000 a year. As income rises beyond that, the percentage given to charity inexorably declines.

Therefore, Kathy LeMay recognizes the need to help people–perhaps especially the wealthy, who understand this bit of good morals less well than their far more impoverished counterparts–learn to give generously.

And that’s the thought behind Transformational Giving principle #9: Giving is learned, not latent.

Without coaching and accountability, all of us–wealthy or no–tend towards stinginess and self-centeredness. Now, Frank will get no argument from me that some “generosity coaching” hardly counts as coaching at all. So let’s be very precise when we talk about what a coach can–and should–help a champion accomplish.

To that end, check out my previous post that outlines the role from a Christian perspective:

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’.

Ergo, we all need generosity coaches, not just the wealthy but certainly including them.

Last I checked, the Bible accorded that role to Christian leaders even more than to financial specialists (seeing that it is about more than money, as Frank rightly notes). But these days I suspect that Christian leaders need generosity coaching at least as much as the wealthy, so I am delighted simply to see help rising up from any quarter…including Kathy LeMay’s.

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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