Bear Stearns gave away


As part of the Bear Stearns culture, molded by the former chairman, Alan C. Greenberg, 1,000 senior managing directors gave away 4 percent of their compensation each year to charity.

Mr. Greenberg himself has been a major fund-raiser for the United Jewish Appeal. An annual September dinner at his home for top donors raised $41 million last year, according to the charity.
A number of Bear Stearns executives, including James E. Cayne, the former chief executive, have also given heavily through their own foundations. The James E. and Patricia D. Cayne Charitable Trust held $30.9 million, largely in Bear Stearns stock, on May 31, 2007, the end of its last fiscal year, according to publicly filed documents.

How and why we give

An article in the Washington Post examines the reasons we are willing to give to charities and the reasons that we balk. Apparently there is evidence that large gifts are primarily motivated by the self-interest of the giver rather than the need of the recipient.

The primary motivation for most giving seems to be how personally we feel connected with the situation.

Peter Singer is arguing that such thinking needs to be challenged because it often creates situations where the greatest needs go unmet. He argues that we'd be better off using Utilitarianism as a criteria for donation decisions. Not everyone agrees.

"'The first donation was the hardest to make,' he said. 'The first time I wrote a check that had at least a couple of zeroes at the end -- that was the hardest thing.'

Fiery Cushman, a graduate student in psychology at Harvard who studies how people's moral intuitions can clash with deliberate reasoning, said the unfolding disaster in Burma highlights another dimension of the warring moral compasses we have within ourselves: People are more willing to help in the case of disasters such as the cyclone than with 'mundane' and ongoing problems that are equally deadly, such as malnutrition or malaria in poor countries.

'Our reasoned judgment says people are suffering in both situations,' Cushman added. 'That is a good example of the mismatch between our emotional responses and rational responses.'

Still, Cushman questions Singer's utilitarian approach, because he argues that emotions undergird even our most rational responses. And there is abundant evidence that even though people value reason and rationality, human beings are biologically programmed to react emotionally to visceral moral challenges."

Read the full article here.

(One of the few organizations that is actually delivering aid in Myanmar is the Anglican Church of that region. You can give to that effort through Episcopal Relief and Development.)

Colorado churches help tornado victims

Although FEMA and insurance companies have been slow to respond to the victims of the tornado that struck Windsor, Colorado, the churches have been quick to see needs and meet them. The Greeley Tribune reports:

Sarah Delaney with the Episcopal Response Effort from throughout Colorado is spending a week in Windsor. About noon Wednesday, she gets out of a van to give several volunteers sandwiches.

The group was supposed to go to Juárez, Mexico, like it does every year, but it's dangerous in Juárez this year, plus there are a lot of people in their own backyard who need the help.

"Even though this is the second phase, there's still so, so, so much to do," Delaney said. The group -- with volunteers from Boulder, Longmont, Loveland and Fort Collins -- is helping the uninsured. "We're cleaning. We're doing whatever we can."

Delaney is off. There is more to do. Her van is running and her friend is in the car peeking back through the rear as if to say, "Let's go."

A gray Wednesday in Windsor -- cloudy and windy -- changed suddenly around the noon hour, nearly three weeks after many people's lives changed forever.

"The sun is coming out," she says.

Read more here.

To assist the Windsor, Colorado tornado victims click here for the Diocese of Colorado help site.

Paying God before the mortgage


"I've had home owners who face foreclosure sitting in front of me saying, 'I'll do anything, anything to keep my home," said Ozell Brooklin, director of Acorn Housing in Atlanta, a nonprofit which offers foreclosure counseling.

"But after we've gone through their monthly expenses and the only thing left to cut is their tithe, they say 'I guess this home is not for me' and they walk away," he said.
Milton Sharp, a home ownership specialist at NeighborWorks, an umbrella group of 230 nonprofits, said for many borrowers tithing is "mandatory and not a discretionary item that can be cut."

Debt counselors said the borrowers most likely to face a dilemma over tithing are people in lower income brackets.

"Often it's the folks who can least afford it who tithe," said Regina Grant of the Atlanta Cooperative Development Corp.

Linda Ingram of St Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit Beyond Housing said, "Tithing is a very sensitive subject and you have to be careful as to how you approach it."
"I made an agreement with the Lord 30 years ago and I have tithed ever since," said the woman, who declined to give her name in an interview. "Nothing could persuade me to give that up. My relationship with God comes first."

Asked why she would not be named, the woman said, "I don't want people to think I'm crazy."
The Barna Group, a California-based research firm, estimated in an April 2008 study that 5 percent of all American adults tithed in 2007. Evangelicals had the highest percentage (24 percent), and the study estimated that 12 percent of conservatives and 10 percent of registered Republicans tithed.

Stewardship in difficult times

Many parishes across the country are in the middle, or getting ready to begin their yearly stewardship/pledge drive campaigns. With the DOW index hovering around 8000 this afternoon, and people watching the savings evaporate, how do we manage to think about the needs of the Church and World when we're hurting so badly?

Terry Parsons, formerly the Missioner for Stewardship and Discipleship for the Episcopal Church, gave a talk in Southwest Virginia on just how to do this.

Christie Wills has posted her notes from Terry's talk on the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia's website.

The short, highly edited version has seven key points with two addenda for leaders:

1. Pray.

2. Bible study.

3. Rebuke scarcity.

4. Claim abundance.

5. It is more important to nurture holy habits than to fret over a budget.

6. Say thank you.

7. You can't sell soap if you don't take a bath.

Parsons had particular advice for leaders of churches:

8. In churches, sometimes the conversation comes down to cutting expenses or increasing income. Faith is always found when focusing on the income side. 'Sometimes the bad news is that ministry costs money. The good news is that we have the money. The terrible news is that the money is in our pockets,' said Parsons.

9. As a church we are called to confront the culture of greed and the spectacle of debt. We must do this for ourselves and as an example to our children.

You can find the full version of the notes and some additional material here. Might be worth forwarding to your parish stewardship chair this week.

Have you seen anything useful, or have any great tips to share? How about posting them in the comments below...

Food banks empty

A report on an empty Food Bank Jackson Hole, Wyoming, tells a story that is being repeated all over the US. Although Wyoming often runs counter to the country's economy due to its mineral, gas and oil industry, even there food banks are experiencing unprecedented demands. This one has a happy ending according to volunteers at St. John's Episcopal Church but as our financial woes continue around the world we may hear it repeated in every community.

Read more »

Finding volunteers via Craigslist

Craigslist became a source of volunteers this Christmas according to The Washington Post:

In Craigslist's random ocean of housing swaps, motorcycles for sale and vegan discussion forums, a tiny tide began a few days ago with these words: "Want to volunteer with me on Christmas in D.C.?"

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Episcopal school receives gift of $31 million

A graduate of Chatham Hall gave a $31 million gift to the school, reported to be the largest gift ever to a girls' school. Chatham Hall is an Episcopal boarding school for girls in Chatham, Virginia in the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

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Scrooged! Salvation Army won't give toys to non-citizen kids

The Dallas Morning News reports that some charities are checking parents' immigration status before giving the children toys for Christmas:

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Give a gift; save a life

"Gifts for Life" through Episcopal Relief and Development is a program through which you can help Episcopal Relief & Development make a lasting difference for people living in extreme poverty.

Living Our Faith for a Better World.

Working in partnership with the worldwide Church, ecumenical agencies and local organizations, Episcopal Relief & Development saves lives and strengthens communities around the world.

Our programs work toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015.

. . .

Gifts for Life creates lasting change for people in need.

Honor your loved ones by giving a gift that works–today.

Gifts given for inmates' children

Churches and other organizations reach out to give gifts to the children of inmates in this season of giving:

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Embark on a 21-day financial fast - and then GIVE!

When a tragedy such as the Haiti earthquake occurs, the outpouring of support for this already poor nation is nice to see. As we approach the season of Lent, it can be an extremely spiritually rewarding practice to give some time to reflect upon the way that many people in the United States and elsewhere consume more than we need. On NPR online, Michelle Singletary proposes a 21 day financial fast in order to purify our consumerist mentality. Pairing this practice with the practice of radical giving to the victims of the Haiti earthquake would be good news indeed.

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Presiding Bishop offers assistance in visit to churches in DC

During her visit to Washington, DC, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addressed, and assisted in working at the Church of the Epiphany's Welcome Table ministry for the homeless:

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ERD responds to flood victims in Tenn

ERD responds to those affected by the flooding in Nashville and other areas of Tennesee:

Episcopal Relief & Development Reaches out after Flooding in Tennessee
From E-R-D Online

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Those with less give more

Taya Flores of the Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier offers a story based on new finding in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which indicate that poor people are more generous than rich people..

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Giving in the USA

Huffington Post features Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Ted Turner on philanthropy and The Giving Pledge.

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2 teens raise $800K for homeless

In Salt Lake City, two teen members of St. James Episcopal Church in Midvale, Utah have raised an incredible $800,000 for the homeless!

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Giving lavishly

The Rev. Mary Koppel, writing at Dirty Sexy Ministry blog, asks "Do we know how to give lavishly?"

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Rectory becomes transitional housing

Former rectory in Lebanon, PA, Diocese of Bethlehem, refitted for outreach and community service:

My Father's House brings new hope to Lebanon County
From Episcopal News Service

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Common Security Clubs faithfully address economic uncertainty

Common Security Clubs (aka Resilience Circles) are a church-based way of addressing the spiritual problem many have - namely, that it's often harder to receive than it is to give, Energy Bulletin's Sarah Byrnes says.

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People respond to Irene with cooperation and compassion

People are responding to the destruction of Hurricane Irene with cooperation and compassion:

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Christmas angels pay for presents

Yahoo! Finance reports on anonymous donors paying off layaway accounts and passing out money at K-Mart and other stores.

The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn't be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter.

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Financial development in Episcopal churches

The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond offers A Position Paper for our reflection about finances and stewardship:

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Do you give less than you think you give?

"Churchgoers like to think of themselves as generous and cheerful givers, but for many the flesh appears to be weak when it comes to living up to their own standards for charitable giving" according to a report in The Association of Religion Data Archives:

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James Taylor issues FB plea for 'Fire & Rain' church

A little Episcopal church that dubs itself "The James Taylor Church" because it's been damaged by fire and rain has garnered attention from the singer himself, who is using his Facebook page to help raise money to restore its historic pipe organ. Taylor posted this week, "St Paul's Episcopal Church in Jeffersonville IN is now known as the "James Taylor church," since it's been hit by both fire and rain! St Paul's is trying to raise money to restore their pipe organ after several floods and a fire. Click here to find out more:"

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How to love a friend who is sick

We are all called to offer pastoral care to sick friends, loved ones and in our parishes, sometimes to folks we don't know well. It's important to be positive, not maudlin, and to consider what would really be most appreciated. offers some practical suggestions:

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Revisioning charity

Conventional wisdom about nonprofits is managers should work for lesser wages than the business sector and donations should go to direct aid not advertising. Dan Pallotta, founder of the AIDS Bike Ride and other charities, says, "everything the donating public has been taught about giving is dysfunctional." He aims to transform the way society thinks about charity and giving and change. Author of Charity Case says:

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Why don't the rich give to charities?

Ken Stern writes in The Atlantic: "The wealthiest Americans donate 1.3 percent of their income; the poorest, 3.2 percent. What's up with that?"

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Walk of abundance

An idea to help re-stock your church's food pantry from Episcopal News Service:

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The pitfalls of investments by churches

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian on Welby, Wonga and the moral dilemma of financial investing:

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Are the rich stingier?

Do we become stingier as we become richer? NPR reports on study about giving and wealth:

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Make mobile giving easy for millennial churchgoers

By now your church certainly can accept donations via your Web site. (Right?). But has your parish made it easy for your supporters to give money via smartphones? If not, you better start thinking about it, as this is becoming a preferred method of parting with cash among tech-savvy Christians. Rob Hoskins writes:

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Second-grader's 'buddy bench' helps spark playground friendship

This is an idea worth stealing: A Pennsylvania second-grader has taken action to create a "buddy bench" at his school so that children who feel alone on the playground have a place to go to spark new friendships. From the York Daily Record:

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Raising children with gratitude

New studies show that gratitude has positive effects on children and teens (proving your mother was correct about writing those thank you notes). The Wall Street Journal reports:

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Architect turns attention towards those without houses

A Seattle architect is concentrating less on building multimillion dollars homes, and more on helping the city's homeless population, after a transformative encounter with a homeless man several years ago.

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Burdened, not Blessed

A former missionary for the Presbyterian Church has some thoughts about the American habit of attributing all economic good fortune to God's favor.

He argues that chalking up every stretch of good luck to divine blessing is bad theology; disrespectful to God and other people.

He says,

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Is For-Profit the Future of Non-Profit?

Amy Schiller critiques non-profits and the move to make a profit for charity. From The Atlantic:

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