As a marketing gimmick is very clever. It's short, immediately understandable, it's easy to do and entertaining to watch. As a result, the ALS Association has received more than $70 million so far, compared to only $2.5 million during last year’s campaign. Getting people to tip icy water over themselves might be a great way to raise money, but it's not a great reason to donate our money.
As Christians, we have finite resources to donate and be generous with. God expects us to be good stewards of the wealth he gives us, and with so many charities and worthy causes vying for our charitable dollar, we need to be wise and discerning about how we choose to use and allocate our money.
One article I read this week suggested we should not donate to ALS because it is already well funded relative to the number of people who it affects and there are other more urgent and pressing causes to donate our money to (such as the crisis in Iraq). It suggested we spend our charitable dollars according to the following three factors:
1. Where is the greatest need?
2. Where will my dollars have the greatest influence?
3. What is the most urgent problem?
Personally I found this really helpful because it reminds me of THE greatest need in our world which is to hear the good news of Jesus. The most urgent problem in our world is for people to have their sin forgiven and be reconciled to God. With this being the case, the place my giving can have its greatest influence is helping to support gospel related ministries - that is, ministries that help proclaim the good news of Jesus.
With this in mind there are still many options before us asking us to donate our money. So how should we as Christians allocate (tithe) our money?
First and foremost ought to be our church. This is the place where gospel ministry happens day in day out that we are part of and benefit from (1 Tim 5:17-18). Secondly, we also have an obligation to the household of faith and caring for others in our midst who are in need with our material possessions (Acts 2:44-45; 1 John 3:17-18). Finally, God also expects his people to do justice and mercy where we take care of the refugee, the orphan, the widow and the poor etc (Deut 24:19-21; Luke 10:25-37).
Therefore, we ought to be looking to allocate our giving to support gospel ministries such as church and our link missionaries. Also those charities that provide help to those in need where the gospel remains central (e.g. Compassion and Anglicare)
There are many, many other charities that are doing great work and would love your support (e.g. research into cancer, ALS and diabetes). However, these charities will always get funding from the government and the public. But the government and the general public won't support the work of the gospel because they are fundamentally opposed to it.
That means, if as Christians we are convinced the gospel is the greatest need of our society today, we need to be the ones who support it.
That means, rather than a gimmicky internet video determining our giving, we need to prayerfully and wisely think about how best to allocate our money for the good of God and his kingdom.
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Cor 9:7
Yours in Christ