Donate away your stimulus check?

By Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspectives Ministry
Oregon based ministry

There are many Americans who are anticipating receiving their coronavirus stimulus check from the government because they truly need the money in order to pay bills and care for their families right now. But if you’re in a position where this money would just go into your savings account or to fund wants but not needs, I would like to make what might seem to be a radical suggestion. Would you prayerfully consider giving it away to God’s kingdom? That’s what we’re going to do. And if you can, please join us.


First, I am well aware that some people actually will need this money. I’m not assuming no one should spend it on themselves! Rather, I’m speaking to those who, like us, do not have such a need at this time.

Second, I’m not suggesting you donate the money to EPM! Here are some ideas:

1) Your local church has probably experienced reduced giving and needs your support to continue to pay staff salaries.

2) There are many ministries, including missions organizations doing Bible translation for unreached people groups, whose major donors (many of whom own businesses) are struggling financially due to the epidemic. To sustain these vital projects others are needed to step in as givers if they are able to do so. (See illumiNations.)

3) There are excellent Christ-centered, gospel-proclaiming ministries that are, at great expense and considerable risk, putting themselves on the frontlines by giving medical assistance in Italy, New York City, and other parts of the U.S. and the world. Samaritan’s Purse is among those.

(For more ideas where to give your check, check out EPM’s list of recommended organizations.)

A friend of our ministry sent this note:

When I heard we were getting a stimulus check of $1,200, I realized I was in a place that I did not “need” this money. Our income had not changed that much due to the COVID-19 virus. I asked God what He would want me to do with this and when I received a giving invitation from a ministry named Kizimani, I knew instantly that was where He wanted me to give. My husband was fully on board, of course. I immediately responded and pledged the money (knowing that my heart can change so quickly in a given moment).

I felt such joy! But I wondered, with all we have couldn’t we give more? I’m still wrestling with that. I wish I could say we emptied our bank account but I’m praying God would make us pliable and that we would listen to what He wants us to do.

I don’t want this to turn into “look what we’re doing.” But I can’t help wanting to let people know that this extra income is an opportunity to give to those in need.

In my book Giving Is the Good Life, I share how Jesus told His disciples a parable in which He described a “faithful and wise manager” as one who gave his servants food and other resources “at the proper time.” When the master returned and saw one servant faithfully managing his resources, he “put him in charge of all his possessions” (Luke 12:42-44, NIV). Jesus continued the parable by describing an unfaithful servant who forgot about his master and failed to manage his assets according to his principles. This servant got drunk and beat the other servants. Jesus promised the master would return when the servant didn’t expect it and bring harsh judgment on him (Luke 12:45-47).

In contrast to the faithful servant, the unfaithful servant mismanaged the master’s resources. Instead of carefully managing the owner’s possessions, he greedily squandered them on himself.

Jesus then summarized the point of the parable with these words: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48).

Make no mistake about it, you and I—who live in the most affluent society in human history, even in an economic downturn—have been entrusted with much. So in light of Jesus’ words, we need to ask ourselves, Am I a faithful servant or an unfaithful servant when it comes to what I do with my Lord’s resources?

God entrusts a fortune even to many who spend their lives wishing they made more. We will answer to Him for what we’ve done with what we have (Romans 14:12). Where did that money go? What needs did we meet with it, both inside and outside our families? What difference did it make for eternity? Did it pierce our lives with grief because we clung to it, or did it fill our lives with joy because we honored God with it?

Paul said that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV). What keeps us from giving cheerfully? We instinctively imagine that hoarding or spending on ourselves will make us happiest. But Jesus said our greatest joy comes when we give to others: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35, GNT). You might have heard that verse translated “It is more blessed to give than receive,” but the well-documented fact is that the Greek word makarios here, translated “blessed,” really means “happy” or “happy-making.”

Notice what Jesus did not say: “Naturally, we’re happier when we receive than when we give, but giving is a duty, so grit your teeth, make the sacrifice, and force yourself to give.”

Money won’t make us happy, but giving away money can make us profoundly happy! When we give out of love for Christ and others, we experience dramatic and lasting returns for the investments we’ve made—far more than if we’d kept or spent it. Therefore, it’s not only receivers who come out ahead—it’s givers, too.

In the novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury said, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies. . . . The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. . . . The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

As believers in Christ, we have the opportunity not just to tend flowers but to tend to people and leave an eternal impact, all for God’s glory. May we never settle for anything less.

A Note about Charitable Giving Incentives

Care Net, a prolife ministry EPM recommends, shared this information about how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides “significant tax incentives to stimulate increased charitable giving in the next few months to non-profit organizations”:

  • Charitable gifts up to $300 are now 100% deductible. Previously, you could only use the charitable giving deduction if you itemized your deductions. Now, the CARES Act allows you to deduct up to $300 of charitable gifts, given in cash, whether you itemize or not. Here is a helpful article on Yahoo! Finance.
  • The deduction for gifts over $300 has been raised to 100% of your Adjusted Gross Income. Under the CARES Act, donors can get a federal income tax deduction for charitable contributions of up to 100% of their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for 2020, replacing the previous 60% of AGI charitable contribution limit. Charitable contributions in excess of this amount can be carried forward for five years subject to the 60% of AGI limit in those years.

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