Year-End Giving- Some Reflections about Faith and Finances

A post by Timothy Siburg, Communications Associate for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. 

giftstocharityIn the United States many persons view December 31 as not only the end of the calendar year, but also their fiscal year due to income tax laws and other financial considerations.  It’s a common and accepted practice for people to give one more year end gift to organizations and causes they value. Some organizations and non-profits depend heavily upon these gifts to budget and plan for the year ahead. Some giving gifts look for tax benefits by giving to a cause or organization they want to financially support.

As a person of faith, my year-end gifts are part of my offering and thanks to God and a way of stewarding some of my resources to help others and to make a positive contribution and difference in the world. I usually think about three possibilities for my gifts, in no particular order.

Alma Maters

This may seem strange to consider as a place for year-end giving for young adults, especially given the high amount of student loan debt carried by the average young adult. That said, if you received scholarships to attend a college, university or graduate school, and feel like it is important to support others in their learning and development, giving to an alma mater can be an important thing. My wife and I do not yet give to all of our alma maters; we just don’t feel like we have the financial capacity to do so. However, we have made it a point to give to the institution where we met and fell in love with each other. In a few years, we hope to add the ability to financially support the other institutions where we have studied.

Faith Communities

Are you part of a congregation or faith community? If so, and you have a bit more to give at the year’s end, you might consider an extra year-end gift for your faith community. This can be as part of your offering or in addition to it. Year-end giving can help your congregation just as much as any other non-profit or organization in setting or helping make its budget, but it also can help your faith community give and respond to needs in the larger world in an even more significant way.

Who Does Your Heart Break For?

One of my favorite pastors likes to ask this question to those who are discerning their vocations and callings in life. Put another way it could be asked, “For whom (or what) does your heart break for?” For example, it might be: young students; the hungry; the homeless; the environment, etc. Your answer or answers to this question are good areas for focusing your year-end giving in as well. If you are unfamiliar with effective organizations or groups that are responding to particular areas where your heart yearns or aches, I recommend checking a few sources like Consumer Reports and Charity Navigator to find organizations whose mission matches your passion, and to see how others rate their work and use of funds.

For those of you contemplating potential year-end gifts, what questions or ideas are on your mind? What areas are you considering contributing to?

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook. Want to support the mission and ministry of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center (ESC) and COMPASS initiative with a year-end gift? Visit

Image Credits: Gifts for Charity