#227 – Integrity Idea 051: Energize External Generosity

Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization.  We believe some are critical (and necessary) steps in the RENEW/RE-ALIGN/RE-IMAGINE/RESTORE process.  Others are just ideas to be considered if they feel like a good fit based on what leaders prayerfully discern is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY.

“Encourage External Generosity” falls into the “if it fits” category because it is externally focused and not critical to operating an organization in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.  That said, it is an important way that an organization can be a faithful presence and extend Shalom to the communities in which it operates, which promotes the sustainability element of faithful stewardship.

Integrity Ideas are specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.  You can find more Integrity Ideas at Integrous | Integrity Ideas (integriosity.com)

INTEGRITY IDEA: Encourage External Generosity

Generosity is such a foundational Biblical principle to operating with faithful integrity through business a better way toward Biblical flourishing that it is embedded in our word Integriosity®, which combines integrity and generosity.  “Energize External Generosity” is about establishing practices that encourage employees or customers to give their time, talent, and treasure to causes outside the organization.

The centrality of generosity to leading and living in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities hardly needs to be proven.  There are numerous books devoted to encouraging generosity by people who profess a Biblical faith, and numerous organizations similarly devoted (such as Generous Giving and Generous Life. But here are just a few verses:

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. (Psalm 112:5)

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)

[W]e must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17)

Time, talent and treasure are gifts from God, and 1 Peter 4:10-11 declares that people are to use their gifts “to serve one another” to glorify God:

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Humans are meant to serve one another through work by applying their gifts to steward creation and promote flourishing of that creation.   We are also meant to glorify God in all we do. When we reflect the image of God by exercising our God-given gifts to serve one another, we are also living out the commandments to love God and love one another.

By “Energizing External Generosity”, faithful leaders are helping their employees or customers become more fully human by living more in alignment with God’s design, whether or not they understand the Biblical basis for this humanization.

We have written numerous posts about the importance of “internal” generosity–faithful leaders modeling generosity (and its components Love and Humility) and taking steps to ensure it is embodied in the culture of an organization.  As commentator Seth Godin rightly notes, generosity is an anecdote to the Scarcity assumption, which we have identified as one of the key toxic characteristics of business as usual.

The posture of generosity and connection replaces a mindset of scarcity.

While we have also emphasized that faithful presence and loving your neighbor demand much more than going on a mission trip to a developing nation or volunteering at a soup kitchen, “Energize External Generosity” recognizes the importance of loving and serving God’s creation beyond the walls of the organization.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that “neighbor” includes all those who cross our path.  Certainly, those in need in the community in which an organization operates can be considered a “neighbor” to be loved.  Encouraging “loving” external neighbors reinforces a culture of loving co-workers, customers, and vendors.

“Energize External Generosity” is also an opportunity to reinforce the humility aspect of generosity.  In Mark 10:43-45, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of humility:

Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

The Creation Mandate calls all humans to steward and care for God’s creation, which in a broken world includes “repairing” brokenness.  Indeed, Fred Rogers (aka “Mr. Rogers”), once said of the Hebrew concept of “tikkun olam“:

No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be ‘tikkun olam’—repairers of creation.

In an article titled “The Biblical Source for Tikkun Olam“, author Benjamin Bleck wrote:

Tikkun olam, however, is not really a specific commandment; rather, it is an overarching category under which is subsumed all of divine law, by way of purpose and goal.

“Energize External Generosity” recognizes that faithful leaders have a platform to help their employees and customers see opportunities to “repair” the world, find those opportunities for which God has given them a heart, and utilize their unique gifts to live out with humility the Creation Mandate, Imago Dei and the commandments to love God and love your neighbor by getting involved.

CONTINUUM: Practices

The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums.  There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture.  The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.

Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.

“Encourage External Generosity” is on the Practices Continuum. It involves practices the organization can adopt to affirm its commitment to cultivating a culture that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities by valuing, promoting and prioritizing human dignity, relationships and flourishing.

COVERT-OVERT RATING: Highly Covert

The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.

Most Integrity Ideas will have one place on the scale.  Some can vary depending on how they are implemented.  “Energize External Generosity” is Highly Covert (an action that would be taken by a secular company).  Many secular businesses have in place programs to match employee giving and provide opportunities for employees to become involved with community service projects.  Others engage customers in generosity.

“Energize External Generosity” can also be Overt (An overtly faith-based action known generally within the organization) if the faithful leader chooses to explain the practice in terms of the organization’s WHY and Biblical beliefs, principles or priorities or focuses its support on faith-based, external organizations.

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients, the Community, the Kingdom

When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom.

“Energize External Generosity” principally serves the organization’s Employees, Customers/Clients, the Community being served as well as the Kingdom.  It serves those energized toward generosity as well as the beneficiaries of that generosity.

The posture of generosity and connection replaces a mindset of scarcity. (Seth Godin)

IMPLEMENTATION

Although not directly connected to how an organization “does business”, implementing “Energize External Generosity” in an organization will require human resources and is likely to require a commitment of financial resources, which is why we have put it in the category of “if it fits”.  However, implementation can take many forms.

As faithful leaders consider whether and how to implement “Energize External Generosity”, we think it is helpful to think about three types of “energizing”:

• Educating

• Organizing

• Giving

Educating

Educating employees and customers about generosity might include implementing initiatives such as:

• Bringing in speakers or holding information sessions on the topic of generosity.

• Distributing books or other written material on generosity.

• Providing online resources on generosity, such as in an organizational newsletter or intranet of through a content library like RightNowMedia@Work

• Sponsoring attendance by employees or customers at generosity-focused events, such as those put on by groups like Generous Giving or Generous Life.

Organizing

Organizing means creating opportunities for employees or customers to give their time, talent or treasure to serve those in need outside an organization.  This could include opportunities such as:

• Facilitating employee or customer participation in fundraising events like walks or races organized by local, national or international charities.

• Organizing fundraising events with employee or customer participation to support a local, national or international cause.

• Coordinating volunteer opportunities with local, national or international charities.

• Giving customers an opportunity to purchase and “give” a product to those in need when they purchase a product for themselves.

• Giving customers an opportunity to make a donation when making a purchase, such as has become common when checking out at grocery stores.

Giving

Giving involves programs through which an organization donates funds or its products to charities based on employee or customer activity or preferences. For example:

• Matching employee charitable contributions.

• “Matching” employee volunteer hours.  Tyson foods has a program under which they will donate to charity a specific amount for every hour an employee volunteers to an approved charity and logs the time in a company online system.  The employee is able to designate the charity to which the donation is made.  We think this is a particularly creative way to energize and honor the generosity of employees who may be in a financial situation that makes “treasure” donations difficult.

• Donating a portion of client-generated revenue to a charity designated by the client.

• Giving a product to charity every time a customer purchases a product.  This type of program was made famous by Toms shoes.

Overt/Covert

None of these ideas is inherently overt as to its faith inspiration.  Most of them are implemented by secular businesses as well as faith-inspired businesses.

Faithful leaders can move “Energize External Giving” toward the overt end of the Covert-Overt Continuums by, for example:

• Tying initiatives to Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities when they are announced or in the way they are described to employees or customers.

• Building Biblical teaching into educational initiatives.

• Focusing organizing activities to support faith-based charities.

• Limiting “matching” or donating initiatives to an approved list of faith-based charities.

Although we describe “Energize External Generosity” as an “if it fits” idea, we urge faithful leaders to give prayerful and serious consideration to how they can use their organization’s platform to help their employees and customers see opportunities to “repair” the world through external generosity.  It touches all of the bigger WHYs of an organization pursuing faithful integrity through business a better way toward Biblical flourishing–it is Humanizing, Beautifying and Glorifying.

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM):  This post was inspired by a talk last week at NCS New Canaan.  The speakers were two founders of Regency Wealth Management, Andrew Aran and Mark Reitsma.  Andy and Mark shared some of the ways that they encourage clients toward generosity, including:

• Donating a portion of client revenue to charities specified by their clients.

• Charging 1/2 their usual fee for the management of donor-advised funds.

Notably, Regency’s purpose statement and principles highlight generosity and philanthropy (emphasis added):

Purpose: Regency Wealth Management is a creative and disciplined enterprise that seeks to produce an environment where clients and employees can flourish both economically and philanthropically, in a God honoring way.

Principles: The Regency team is comprised of financial management experts serving others excellently with integrity and transparency in a collaborative manner. As we assist clients in achieving and maintaining financial security, we seek to inspire them to live generously so that they can bless others.

You can listen to their talk at the link below.

ESSENCE:  Integrity Ideas are specific practical actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.

INTEGRITY IDEA: Energize External Generosity

COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action):  Practices

COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt): Highly Covert

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients, Community, Kingdom

Generosity is such a foundational Biblical principle to operating with faithful integrity through business a better way toward Biblical flourishing that it is embedded in our word Integriosity®, which combines integrity and generosity.  “Energize External Generosity” is about establishing practices that encourage employees or customers to give their time, talent, and treasure to causes outside the organization.  We have written numerous posts about the importance of “internal” generosity–faithful leaders modeling generosity (and its components Love and Humility) and taking steps to ensure it is embodied in the culture of an organization.  While we have also emphasized that faithful presence and loving your neighbor demand much more than going on a mission trip to a developing nation or volunteering at a soup kitchen, “Energize External Generosity” recognizes the importance of loving and serving God’s creation beyond the walls of the organization.  It recognizes that faithful leaders have a platform to help their employees and customers see opportunities to “repair” the world, find those opportunities for which God has given them a heart, and utilize their unique gifts to live out with humility the Creation Mandate, Imago Dei and the commandments to love God and love your neighbor by getting involved.

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