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Gentle Rain

by William Evans

Do you ever feel like everyone has his hand out? From churches and other charities to major disasters (not to mention special projects at Thanksgiving and Christmas) opportunities to give are everywhere. And Americans rise to the occasion again and again. According to Giving USA, citizens of the United States are the most generous givers in the world! Total contributions exceeded $200 billion in 2003.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reveals other startling facts about donations. For instance, 60 donors contributed more than $10 billion during 2004. Most donations (49 of 60) were from living donors rather than from an estate. It is interesting that only 25% of their gifts were consumed by immediate projects. In fact, more than 75% of these massive gifts will provide long range funding through endowments or multi-year projects.

It is safe to say that most of us do not know these top 60 donors personally, although we may be familiar with names like Bill Gates, John Templeton, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, and Oprah Winfrey. And while these extraordinary gifts receive a lot of attention (and they should), the vast majority of giving is done through the smaller gifts of the masses. True, the small gifts add up more slowly, but they do add up. It is the principle of the gentle rains that nourish the earth in contrast to gushing floods. It is this principle of long-term giving upon which endowments are built.

Few, if any of us will ever be able to give a gift of this magnitude. Yet through endowments, it is within the power of each of us to make a lasting gift. For some, the amount may be small while others may have the means and desire to give more. In some cases, an endowment enables the donor to sustain their current level of support long after they are gone. Make smaller gifts to the general endowment fund of any ministry you choose, or in the case of a gift of $25,000 or more, establish an individual endowment with specific guidelines for your contributions.

Currently, The Free Will Baptist Foundation manages $6.2 million for ministries across our denomination. To put it simply, you might just think of endowments as an investment in the future of Free Will Baptists!

Bill Evans is the Director of The Free Will Baptist Foundation. Contact the foundation at (877) 336-7575 or visit the agency website


©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists