Cool tool . . . but is it a motivation to give?

February 29, 2012 | Viewpoints | Number 5
Gary Sawatzky |

Tools. Gadgets. Thing-a-ma-jigs. Whatsits. No matter what you call them, they are designed to help us do things more easily.

Recently, I found an interesting tool from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) called the donation credit calculator. Here is how it works: Select your province of residence and tax year, then enter in a charitable donation amount. Voila, it calculates both your federal and provincial tax credit. Pretty slick, huh? To access the charitable donation tax credit estimator, visit

You might think that Canadians would be encouraged to donate more to charitable causes when they see the tax advantage, but that is not the case. According to the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, 94 percent of Canadians who give do so out of compassion for those in need. Only 13 percent cited the receipt of a government tax credit as a reason for giving.

These statistics indicate that most giving is done out of compassion for the needs of others. Canadians are giving from the heart. How much more should this be true for Christians? In simple terms, our faith leads us to give because God first gave to us. By giving, we allow our hearts to be shaped by the heart of God. This may be why Jesus clearly linked our hearts and our treasure.

From the CRA’s point of view, it’s all about the credit calculation and tax relief. In reality, it’s about giving from our hearts to the causes that stir our compassion: our churches, our area churches or denomination; our mission agencies; and many other social services.

In the Christian community, the initiation point resides with God. We give because God first gave to us. In I John we are encouraged to show our love not just in words, but by putting our goods into action for those who need our help. We are to do this, it says, because God first loved us. God is generous and our generosity is a reflection of God’s character, God’s heart. God invites us to share and our sharing is a worshipful response.

What motivates you to give?

Gary Sawatzky is a stewardship consultant at the Calgary office of the Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). For stewardship education and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit

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