Kill Your Darlings

“In writing,” says William Faulkner, “you must kill your darlings.”

We all have favorites. In writing, we have favorite stories, favorite words, favorite phrases, favorite structures, and so on. We also have our favorites in fundraising: the channel we just have to use, the model we just have the follow, the even we just have to throw. I’d almost bet that our favorites give us a fundraising fingerprint. Someone who paid close enough attention, given enough information about style and demands, could identify each of us.

But here’s the cold, hard fact: it doesn’t matter if something is your favorite. It only matters if it works.

It doesn’t matter if you love your database, or an event, or a letter, or a picture, or a story. It only matters if it generates money for the cause.

There are limits, of course. Some things – the unethical, the illegal, etc. – are absolutely off-limits.

But, in general, if it doesn’t work – even if it’s beautiful – kill it. And if it does work – even if it’s hideous – keep it.

Right now, there is a movement in churches and nonprofits arguing that charity is toxic, that helping hurts, and that the entire nonprofit sector needs to be reformed to truly lift people out of poverty. These charity skeptics are telling Christians that traditional charity deepens dependency, fosters a sense of entitlement, and erodes the work ethic of people who receive it. Charity skepticism is increasingly popular; and it is almost certainly wrong.

Now available from Wipf and Stock’s Cascade Books imprint, Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) weaves together research and scholarship on topics as diverse as biblical scholarship, Christian history, economics, and behavioral psychology to tell a different story. In this story, charity is the heart of Christianity and one of the most effective ways that we can help people who are living in poverty. Charity—giving to people experiencing poverty without any expectation of return or reformation—can save the world and help make God’s vision for the church a reality.

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