Should You Have a Giving Fund?


You’ve been in the situation: someone you see needs help. They need a large amount of money and fast! What do you do? Dip into your emergency fund? Take out a loan? Find an extra job? Or tell them to ask someone else? These situations aren’t always easy. Let’s explore some ideas about giving.

I’m No Giving Expert!

See that title up there? It’s true. I’m relatively new to giving – I really couldn’t when I didn’t have any money. Now that my wife and I have paid off our non-mortgage debt and built an emergency fund, we have a little extra money at the end of the month. We’ve tithed from the beginning of our marriage, but seldom gave apart from that.

We’ve given occasionally, when we’ve seen a need, but were never truly prepared to give. When I say we weren’t truly prepared, I mean it wasn’t in our budget. That let me to think about the next question:

Should people have a giving fund? Should giving actually be a budgeting category that you fund every month? Perhaps it’s something you should refill every year. Hmm, interesting.

I’m hoping all of you ChristianPF readers out there have more answers than I do. I’m just getting the conversation started. Here are a few things to chew on before you head to the comments section . . . .

The Pros and the Cons

I’m trying to approach this objectively and consider all parties involved. So, when one is trying to do that, one should make a list of pros and cons of each option. Here is my list:

Giving Fund Pros

When you have a giving fund, you’re less likely to give out of impulsive emotion and destroy your budgeting categories. For example, let’s say you pull the money from your emergency fund. Was the purpose of your emergency fund really to fund other’s emergencies? Of course not! Having a giving fund keeps purposed money where it belongs.

Another benefit of a giving fund would be that you can clearly see how much giving you can afford. Some of you out there are so generous, you’d give the clothes off your back to help the needy. But if you sacrifice your essentials, doesn’t that just hinder you from being able to provide a living for your family and give in the future?

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

Giving obviously should be prioritized: family first, relatives second, acquaintances and strangers third. A giving fund helps you determine how much you can give to your relatives, acquaintances, and strangers. Your family (household) is provided for through your budget.

Giving Fund Cons

The major downside to a giving fund is that it takes away much of the spontaneity of giving. If you know you have x-amount of dollars to spend on giving each year, that makes it difficult to fund bigger giving opportunities. It also takes away a certain feeling of sacrifice; you know you already had funds ready to give, and you’re simply following your budget.

Some might say that creating a giving fund limits God. But can something really limit God? One could argue that adhering to a giving fund might lead to a person ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit. No doubt, if God prompts you to give, you should no matter what. But maybe God wouldn’t prompt you to give more than you would have in your giving fund – as long as your giving amount was prayerfully considered.

What Are Your Two Cents?

Like I said earlier, I’m no giving expert. I’m testing the waters on giving. I want giving to be something that’s spontaneous and purposeful yet within reason.

Is a giving fund the answer? I want to hear from you. If you read this post, please put in your two cents below in the comments. We can all learn from each other, and any biblical advice you might have would be greatly appreciated!

Meet us in the comments! I’m sure you have something to say!

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  1. Mike D.

    I think it’s good to have a budget for giving, but not ignore larger items. When my wife and I are further along in life I want to have a monthly giving amount, that we can use to give to whatever or whoever. I wouldn’t ignore larger giving opportunities though. If a charity or our church was doing a major project we would talk about giving and how much we want to give. It wouldn’t be as spontaneous as seeing someone with a need and giving them $50 because it was in the monthly budget.

  2. crossn81

    We’ve setup a separate bank account for our “God Money”. We continually refer to it that way and use it as our tithe and for other giving that we do. Almost all of our giving is automated through that account. The account is funded through direct deposit based on a % of our income. We don’t touch that account for anything else.

    We do lose the “sacrificial giving” part, but even when I was unemployed we didn’t change the amount or take money from it. It makes us more cheerful 🙂

  3. Cherie

    For the first time ever, in 2011 we set up a separate checking account we nicknamed “Jesus $$” & fund it by an automatic transfer every payday.

    When we set up the transfers in January, we did enough to cover our normal giving to church, charity and a few individuals but then we added an extra percentage beyond our previous giving. Because we had to less to spend in our bill-paying account, we did sacrifice in our monthly budget and cut back on a few areas.

    It’s the end of the year and we LOVE how it worked out for us! We gave more than ever! As we predicted, there is a surplus and we used it for Angel Tree items at our church, the Faith Formation ministries, and for three special gift baskets for families in need in our town.

    Just like getting too big of an IRS refund, we are going to increase our church giving next year because we don’t want as much left at the end of the year – but still some to give Christmas blessings. And just like our retirement account, we are upping the percentage in 2012.

    I felt like our Giving Fund allowed us to say YES more and be spontaneous. Even though we didn’t have an extra large giving opportunity come up this year, the balance of our Giving Fund would not be a reason to say NO – only a starting point in a large gift.

    This is part of our faith and financial lifestyle we hope to continue to improve on each year.

  4. Cheryl

    We tithe, and also have a charitable giving category in our budget (for our giving towards established charities). But we have learned over the years, no matter what our circumstance is, when God says to give, we give. If there is money in the charitable giving balance, we use that. However, there have been times when God’s requirement means using our 6 month emergency fund money, and we’re ok with that — its His money after all, we’re just the stewards of it. And we’ve been blessed beyond measure ( and not just monetarily) in return, its been awesome!

  5. Rob C.

    I think this is a good idea, thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Joann

    Each January I usually have a charity fund that I set up for the year. Whatever I could give I will. There are less fortunate people than us so anything helps.

  7. Barb

    When I think about giving, it usually comes out of the 2Cor.9… God loves a cheerful prompt to giver…and God is able to make every earthly blessing come to us in abundance so that we are self-sufficient relying on no one for aid or support, fully furnished in abundance for every good work and charitbIe donation….I must confess that our giving has always been in the moment. Malachi says to bring all the tithe and offerings into the storehouse… offerings are something that is always included in our monthly giving and usually is given with the idea that this is the system of the kingdom…. and in every system there is an end result…you can not not Give…it is the seed time and harvest effect!
    I like the idea of paying off our mortgage first, but we been spreading it around for years. Now you got me thinking in a different light.
    Blessings xxoo

  8. Trish

    Interesting concept. I budget it in when there are certain things that I know are coming up (like Operation Christmas Child or others throughout the year). And we have a few other charities besides church tithing that we do on a monthly basis. But I also pick random charities to donate a percentage of certain types of income to. (Like speaking engagement income I usually do 50% and it is to a different charity most of the time) By setting it up this way I feel like it allows God to direct our path AND provide the finances to do it.

    BUT….We also have a fully funded emergency fund, no non-mortgage debt, paying into retirement, kids college funds, saving for a addition on our home, and paying a large amount extra on our mortgage every month. When God has led us to give a larger gift or opened up an area and we do not have it undirected in our budget or in terms of income since 75% of ours is irregular we have to option to place less in one of our monthly savings goals to contribute where God is leading.

  9. Kim

    Great topic! Sure gives room for thought at the time of year when 2012 financial plans are being set in place.
    I would ideally like to have a set amount being given to various ministries each month, a set amount going into a 2nd Christmas fund so that we can adopt a family at Christmas or meet similar needs at that time, and have a set amount in an spontaneous giving fund, say $1000, and then if we give out of it (and would be generous in doing so) we would sacrifice the following weeks to rebuild it so that it would be there for others when its needed. This allows for generous giving, following God’s prompting in both scheduled opportunities (like a monthly promise to a missionary) and spontaneous ones (like handing someone a $50 bill or buying a homeless person lunch) as well as the seasonal requests that come along with Christmas. And maybe even another fund to allow for ministry trips or service trips, like being able to just up and take off time from working to go and help in a disaster nearby. Those are giving opportunities of a different sort that require funding as well.

  10. Anglican DC girl

    A giving fund doesn’t limit spontaneity. If anything, it enables spontaneity! I have a “Lord’s Account” — just a simple savings account, and I give into it as I am able. I usually have 300-500 dollars in it at any one time. This is over and above my tithing which is built into my budget (i.e., regular giving that I give to church). When I see a spontaneous need arise, and I feel God telling me to give, I have money to give from the Lord’s Account. That enables me to be spontaneous and led by the Lord.

    I think you’ve made an unnecessary assumption that you “have to” give from your giving fund, or that you “have to” empty it on a regular basis. You don’t. You can simply let it grow and then give from it as the Lord leads. Another thing you can do is if you think your giving fund is getting large, you can go pray and ask God if he wants you to give from it — he may direct you to give, or he may direct you to wait. That is what my parents taught me to do.

  11. Matt

    I think that budgeting for giving is a great idea. My wife and I have been using ING Direct for many years. I have over 13 target savings accounts there. Having one called ‘Giving’, in my opinion, would help me look for opportunities to use the funds.