Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.” – Mother Teresa
Today we celebrate the life and impact of Mother Teresa on this International Day of Charity, and the event of her canonization as a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
For over 40 years, I’ve had the honor of working with, and for, numerous charitable organizations. Each seeking to make the world a better place in their own unique way. Big global organizations, and small local charities. Those with extensive resources to achieve their mission, and those who scraped together what they could to deliver as much impact as possible. But all of them had one thing in common: they regarded the charity and donations they received as a significant responsibility. An investment for the betterment of humanity.
Just like Mother Teresa stated, the money donated to charities like Food for the Hungry often is an outpouring of those who are seeking first the Kingdom of God in their own lives.
Therefore, we charities better take this seriously!
At a fundamental level, charity (or the offering of time, talent, and/or resources to a cause or organization) is an extension of your hopes of compassion and benevolence beyond what you can independently achieve. It’s pooling your resources and efforts with those of others to achieve a new scale, depth and quality of impact in the world that you wouldn’t be able to achieve on your own.
It works quite similar to how we regard investing, doesn’t it? Or maybe a large-scale crowdsourcing campaign like you see on GoFundMe or KickStarter.
But instead of investing in shares of stock, or in the production of given product that you’ll receive, charity is investing in the betterment of humanity.
Impetus for Investment
As Mother Teresa often did, she cut straight to the root of the matter. Our giving is most helpful when it’s for the right reasons. Much like investing for financial gain, having a goal and thought-through rationale is important to achieve the desired results.
Motivations matter. As much as charities will be pleased to receive anything that is offered, the best Kingdom results come from efforts where everyone is Kingdom-focused. As a charity inspired by a Christian faith, we at Food for the Hungry with over 2,000 staff around the world, seek to be agents of renewal in the hard places with the resources we’ve been given. Every partner and donor understands that we seek to follow the teachings of Jesus as it pertains to feeding the hungry and serving the poor. Therefore, everyone involved – from the person making a gift, to the Food for the Hungry staff, and finally the beneficiary of impact – all understand the mission of the endeavor. When this happens, great impact can result!
Quantitative and Qualitative Returns
But we can’t simply end with the act of giving charity. Or similarly the act of investing. Both have the intention of creating some level of advantageous returns. If we were to invest in a stock and never expect anything to come of it, that would be silly! Likewise, when you give to a charitable cause you hope for your donation to make an impact.
At Food for the Hungry, we seek both quantitative and qualitative returns. Yes, we seek to reach the most amount of people we can with poverty-fighting interventions and ideas. But we also work hard to ensure the impact we are making sticks. That the investment of our donors is making a sustainable and profound impact in the lives of the most vulnerable. We hope for our efforts to make both a wide and deep impact.
Mother Teresa understood that acts of charity need to be rooted in the holiest of motivations. So on this International Day of Charity, a day sanctioned by the United Nations in honor of her on the day of her death, and now the day of her canonization as a saint, we celebrate her ideas that continue to encourage the world towards peace, compassion and good will towards others.
The ideas that should incite investment in the betterment of humanity!