Checkout charity is big business for nonprofits. That was the headline in The Tampa Bay Times on December 13, 2017. Corporate America has learned that one of the best ways to reach a customer’s heart, not only to get their money but also their repeat business, is to get them to contribute to some need somewhere in the world.
Many people will donate a dollar out of guilt or because they have a benevolent heart, but the indisputable results are impossible to ignore. According to an organization called Cause Marketing Forum, which helps charities and companies with fundraising partnerships, in 2012, 63 checkout campaigns raised at least $1 million. Together, they raised over $358.4 million — more than a dollar for every American.
According to the article, “Mass merchandise and big box stores (Walmart, Costco Wholesale, Kmart, JCPenney) raised the most money, followed by online retailers (eBay and Apple), supermarkets (Safeway, Publix) and restaurants (McDonald’s, Chili’s, Wendy’s).” 1
In one example, “Penney’s asked customers to round up their purchase to the next buck and raised $10.4 million in six months.” 2
Should we be giving our money to all these organizations?
In many cases, church members are donating at Starbucks for breakfast, Chili’s for lunch and Penney’s or Kohl’s when they shop in the afternoon or evening. By the time they get to church on the weekend one of several things are likely to happen: 1) They believe they’ve already given sufficiently and sacrificially, 2) They don’t have any money left or 3) They’ve developed giving fatigue. So, when the pastor or someone else challenges people to give to the Lord’s work, they are tempted to shrug their shoulders and not give anything.
What should we do?
First, every pastor and church should encourage people to set up online giving. That way God always comes first (Proverbs 3:9-10). The majority of our giving should be on purpose, not on impulse. Emotional or impulse giving (i.e., responding to a request at a cash register or to a felt need) should be the exception, not the rule. Giving online enables us to give strategically, not randomly. We can always give to other causes when we feel led, but this way we won’t neglect Christ and His Church (Matthew 16:18).
Second, every one of us should evaluate where we are giving our money and what it’s being used for. Jesus said, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings" (Luke 16:9).
Christian financial expert, Randy Alcorn said: “Many early American philanthropists sought to further Christian causes. Today, the most prominent philanthropists don’t embrace a Christian worldview. The Rockefeller Foundation states as its purpose, ‘To promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.’ For Christians, this statement doesn’t go far enough. The command to ‘love your neighbor’ is inseparable from the command to ‘love the Lord your God’ (Matthew 22:37-38). Any philosophy of distributing wealth that fails to account for God’s glory and His redemptive purposes for men falls short of the mark.
A secular organization can do good and relieve physical suffering, but humanity’s deepest need is for a Savior.
‘Should Christians support secular organizations?’ As good as they may be, art museums, art galleries, and public broadcasting as close to God’s heart as evangelism, church planting, and helping the poor in Christ’s name? Many Christians support secular universities, often their alma maters that promote disbelief in a Creator as the only rational worldview. Others support ‘Christian’ colleges that no longer believe the Scriptures. If God wants you to give His money to a school, shouldn’t it be a school that believes, loves, and obeys Him? How much of God’s money today is going to schools that oppose rather than support biblical causes? What does God think of the fact that money managed by His children is funding not only non-Christian but anti-Christian causes?” 3
The article in The Tampa Bay Times continued, “Checkout charity, as it’s sometimes called, has become big business for nonprofits and retailers. Charities love it because it raises money from the masses at little cost. Companies love it because it makes them look caring and generous, even if it comes on the backs of customers.” 4
Randy Alcorn concludes, “For every secular organization, there’s a Christian organization doing the same work, but with an eternal perspective. When there’s a choice, why not support organizations characterized by prayer, biblical standards, and the supernatural work of God’s Spirit?
Can we love our neighbor without sharing our most precious possession with him? A secular organization can do good and relieve physical suffering, but humanity’s deepest need is for a Savior. Those who don’t offer Jesus Christ don’t offer what people most desperately need.” 5
The local church is the greatest institution on the face of the earth for life change. If you’re part of a church where the Bible is being preached and lives are being changed every week, you should support it faithfully and wholeheartedly with everything you’ve got. Besides, the church was God’s idea.
Paul said, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
We should, too!
© 2017. Barry L. Cameron
3 Alcorn, Randy C. Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. Pgs. 243-244.
5 Alcorn, Randy C. Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. Pgs. 243-244.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.