Charity at its heart is a gift of love.
There has been much publicity recently about people raising huge sums for Charity, Captain Tom Moore among them. However, at the same time many established charities are struggling because their usual sources are drying up. Kids Out is a local example. Christian Aid Week in May has been the major way in which that Charity has raised the bulk of its funds for many years until recently. Door to door collections was the normal method, though it has proved more and more challenging recently and during the Coronavirus lockdown is not possible.
Churches and all faith groups are also feeling the pinch of reduced income because normal activities have been prohibited. Many rely on a weekly collection – the offertory – during worship. Sometimes this is called ‘free-will’ offerings. It is an expression of thankfulness, a ‘love-gift’. Although there can be an element of duty when it is regarded as a necessary part of believing, as when a tithe (tenth) is expected, or when almsgiving is a pillar of faith.
Many people have their favourite Charity, which they support regularly, which could be anything from a hospice (which is likely to be really struggling at the moment) to a refuge for ill-treated animals. National fund-raising events such as Children in Need raise millions each years by appealing to our sympathy for the plight of the most vulnerable. Sponsored sports events such as the London marathon give benefits to the runners as well as to the charities they support.
All of this money-raising effort for Charity enables good work to be done. However, there is a question as to whether some needs should be met by Government funding, which is raised though taxation, rather than by charitable giving. Should we need to rely on money raised through charitable giving for the National Health Service or should it be fully funded as part of our national infrastructure? Often the work of charities is to do extra and supplementary work over and beyond the basic care we offer. But it could also be seen as merely papering over the cracks, rather than dealing with the underlying issue. Proper funding requires Government action.
Another issue about charitable or faith based giving is whether it is spontaneous, ‘from the heart’, or pre-determined. Is one better than the other? Many worshippers now contribute by direct debit or by other regular payments, and this enables greater confidence in making plans for further action and service. But there are some who view this as duty and regard a second gift or a thank-offering as a more genuine expression of faith.
Charitable giving is not just about giving our ‘tithe’ or our duty, it is about offering our whole selves, everything we have in service. If love is our motive, then it requires our all, not just the little extra we think we can afford. Our whole life is a love gift, received and given!