An Economy Stimulating Giving Spree!

Written by AriahFine : May 5, 2008

moneyshirt.jpgCome May, most of us tax paying citizens will be receiving a check in the mail. Now, regardless of whether you agree with capitalism, our government, or the Economic Stimulus package, the fact remains that you’ll be getting a check either way. Now, the question becomes how to spend it.

It’s true, once you get the check, it’s your money to do what you’d like with it, but the intent is that you spend it on consumer goods, thus stimulating the economy. You might just save it away for a rainy day or use it to pay off some debt, but I’d like to recommend another idea: A Giving Spree.

What an amazing opportunity to take make a statement flipping a value system on it’s head. The money given with the intent of spending it on ourselves in our consumer society, thus stimulating our capitalist economy (thus saving us from impending doom) basically makes the statement that we can ‘Save Ourselves by Consuming.’ We have the opportunity to take that same resource and use it for good, clothing the needy, feeding the hungry, bringing justice to the captives.

I’d like to propose that come May, when you receive your rebate check, that you take a large portion of it (or all of it) and go on a Christ-honoring Giving Spree. Here are some ideas:

  • Take some homeless people you meet out to a fancy restaurant.
  • Buy a CSA Share for a needy family in your neighborhood.
  • Purchase and give away CFL Bulbs, Cloth Shopping Bags, Fair Trade Chocolate, Fair Trade Socks.
  • Host a Pizza Party for students at your neighborhood school.
  • Sponsor a child for a year.
  • What’s your idea?

If you’re interested in participating then click here and sign the Giving Spree pledge. The hope is to use a pledge to build some momentum to the Giving Spree. You are free to give money away even if we don’t reach the pledge numbers, and you’re also free to give away all of your rebate check. But either way, sign the pledge!

The description of the pledge reads:

Recognizing that the Economic Stimulus rebate checks we will receive in May sole purpose is to be spent to help stimulate the economy, we are willing to follow through, but not as expected.

In a prophetic statement against the rampant consumerist culture that we live in, as a declaration that more money and capitalism will not save us or our economy, and as a statement to those around us that we follow Christ’s teachings (Matt. 23) and the only true hope is through him,

We will take a large portion of these government issued checks and begin a ‘Giving Spree’ to meet the needs of those around us, pressing, important and immediate needs.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on JM on February 21, 2008. Now that the checks are officially arriving, we thought it would be good to once again ponder the idea of how to best utilize the discretionary income in the service of the Kingdom of God]

Ariah Fine is a husband and father living in North Minneapolis. He blogs at Trying To Follow and recently wrote his first novel, Giving Up.

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Viewing 16 Comments

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    • v
    I know exactly what I'm doing with my check - it's going directly to the credit card debt I accrued when I bought my house.
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    • v
    Yes, give some away and pay off your debt so you aren't in bondage to the system.
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    • v
    I might change my handle to "wet blanket."
    The checks won't help the economy any, but they won't hurt much either. The only long-run effect will be imperceptibly higher prices on consumer goods since more dollars will be chasing the same number of goods. The only way to stay ahead is to put the money into savings that will earn a rate of return equal to the inflation effects of the stimulus package.
    That said, I think giving away windfall income is an excellent idea. If we are being good stewards we should have decent budgets. I'm working on this. If we have decent budgets that are well balanced then windfall income should not be factored into it. So we don't need the money, and we did not anticipate or make plans depending on the money. It is the perfect money to give away.
    Not that we have to. I think tithing on it is effective in bearing witness to the world. But if you can do it with joy, give it all away!
    Personally, we will tithe, pay off some debt, save some, and give some more of it away.
    While the above suggested vehicles of giving are nice, I think it is important that we give primarily out of obedience to God and love for His creation, not to feel good about ourselves. It might be a good challenge to look for ways that we can give most anonymously, and to give where it will make the greatest bit of difference.
    Finally, the best place to donate is where we already are donating. If we give to a new charity, we end up on their mailing list and the mailing lists of all their sister charities. Then they send us mail. We wanted to send a one time gift, but almost all the good of it went into future mailings. Along those lines it is a good idea to ask to be removed from other charity lists whom we don't intend to give to. Tyler Cowen has a whole chapter in one of his recent books about how to give intellegently.
    Nathanael Snow
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    Pizza Party - Make homemade pizzas instead of ordering. Loads more fun and tastier, too.

    We will pay off a couple of medical bills and then save the rest.
    • ^
    • v
    i guess we have some bills to pay off. i mentioned giving it all away to my wife, or half of it and she looked at me like i have 3 heads. lol. we have been working really hard at getting out of debt and incurring no new debts.

    breaking free from the man and all that. lol.
    • ^
    • v
    The first thing that came to mind when I heard that the government was going to send out all these checks was to try to sabotage the intention - give the money away, but do so internationally, where it would have less impact on our economy. Spending on consumer goods is part of what got us into the problems . . . are we supposed to now fix ourselves by more of the same?

    It's hard to argue against pizza parties for homeless folks, though.
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    • v
    Unfortunately I owe more money due to debt than I will get back, but this sounds like a really good idea and I wish I could be a part of it.
    • ^
    • v
    So the government's going to give us money, so we can give it to someone else, so they can buy something. Some where something is going to get bought, or it's going to go toward something that has already been bought.

    If we're going to buy something, what about spending it on things that will make it so we spend less money in the future. (Then theoretically we might have even more money to give away.)

    What about spending it on a kitchenaid mixer with attachments so it's easier to make our own bread, make homemade meals with nice salads, etc.? A pressure cooker so you can cook more beans? Or how about a bike, like those really cool velomobiles, so we don't have to drive our cars in the winter or summer? Or tools so we can change the oil in our car instead of taking it to the shop? Or a sewing machine so we can make repairs easier or sew new clothes? Or tools so we can plant a garden?

    Or how about that business idea you had? Maybe this could be the seed money for a business that could hire the unemployed, underemployed, and disenfranchised?

    Or how about a solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries? A skylight for a dark room so you don't have to turn on the lights? A compost bin? Native plant species for the garden?

    Consumerism isn't bad. It's the choices we make on what to buy that's the problem. The choices we make are the steering wheel to the economy. I'd like an economy that cared for the earth and the health of the people who lived there.
    • ^
    • v
    Not to be nitpicky, but consumerism IS bad...though consumption isn't necessarily bad. Consumerism is an ideology, hence the "ism."

    Nitpickiness aside, you make a good point. :)
    • ^
    • v
    The irony of all this is that our government is borrowing the money and going further into debt (already over 9 trillion dollars) in order pass out these checks and get us to spend more. And, at the same time the Fed is lowering interest rates so that we're enticed to borrow even more and buy more stuff. This is Economic Bondage 101. Give some away and pay off your debt. "Owe no man anything but to love him."
    • ^
    • v
    i love this post. and the comments. these are great ideas. in general I agree with Maria, let's buy products that help us be productive rather than continually consumptive.
    • ^
    • v
    It think it's a great idea to give, some of it, a lot of it, or all of it away to something/someone not related to yourself. In other other words how can you really stimulate some economic growth elsewhere? It's amazing what just a little bit of cash can do in providing clean water in a town that has no clean water (and how that stimulate an economy), or what it can do to provide education for people who don't have any. One thing related to ourselves we are going to do is buy a used bike on craigslist for my wife (I've already got one) and get a baby-seat for the back, a nice cheap way to cut down on driving around pasadena. I think these are great ways to "stimulate the economy" even more then buying a huge flat screen tv at wal-mart which is what georgey would like for you to do now doubt.
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    What about shattering the education/property-privilege ceiling that keeps folks in generational poverty? -- create a scholarship for someone to go to community college, converge 20-30 checks to help someone make the jump from renting to home ownership by paying the downpayment on a home

    What about buying gardening tools or textbooks or new art supplies for local schools?

    What about asking area homelessness activists about someone they know who could use the money to get their foot in the door in the area of employment, addiction, renting, health education, organizing, or education?

    What about sponsoring a huge block party?

    What about micro-finance loans?

    What about sending a peacemaker to Iraq or Darfur?

    What about paying off the school debt or book costs of a student in your church? In an age where debt and education are nearly synonymous, seeing a church help bring their own out of debt instead of lining their own pockets is immensely prophetic.

    I'm really excited for this! :)
    • ^
    • v
    I missed this article on the Jesus Manifesto site and just came across it today as I was researching other similar reactions to the economic stimulus package.

    I invite all of you, along with signing the pledge, to visit the Pentecost Project for more ways to make a prophetic witness towards a more true and loving economy:
    • ^
    • v
    Thanks for the link, looks like your project is taking off. Glad I could be of encouragement
    • ^
    • v
    Confession time.

    Almost two years ago, my closest friend moved back home to Austria.

    In two weeks, I'm spending my stimulus check.

    I'm spending it in Austria.



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