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Shaping a Culture of Generosity

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February 12, 2019

by Curtis Vick, TMF Executive Vice President

Shaping a Culture of Generosity

How #TMFGives Came to Life

Reflecting on my childhood, I have a clear memory of the Woolsey family. They sat in the first pew of our church, where my father was a minister. Although they had no children of their own, they were surrounded by kids every Sunday morning. When time came to collect the offering, they gave every child a nickel. Each child heard the satisfying clink as he or she put their nickel on the plate each week. 

How the Woolseys modeled generosity stayed with me. Which is why when our board approved TMF to give away a portion of its year-end distribution to charitable causes, I wanted to involve our entire staff. So we formed a small committee, laid a few ground rules, and created #TMFGives. In December and January, we awarded gifts totaling $90,000 to 27 organizations.  

You may be asking if this is different from TMF Grants Ministry, which also gives generously to nonprofits and ministries in Texas and New Mexico. Yes, in part because these gifts are not grants. That is one way that #TMFGives was different. But most importantly, #TMFGives involved our entire staff in a new way so that each person had an opportunity to experience giving. Here’s how we did it.

Every staff member at TMF and the Heartspring Foundation (which merged with TMF on January 1, 2019) was invited to request a gift for a cause and organization that is special to them. We had three conditions. First, they would need to make an in-person presentation to the committee, not simply send in a form. Second, they would be responsible for delivering the gift in person. Third, they would follow up to learn the result of the gift.

For staff members such as Patsy Wilson, #TMFGives created an opportunity to make a new connection to another organization, building a bridge between her interest and enthusiasm and their mission and operations. For others, they were able to increase their giving to a mission they know well. 

You can see by the smiles on their faces and the joy in their voices that this all went well. We enjoy conversation around purpose. Though our area representatives may be leading Holy Conversations and our financial staff may be assisting with loans and planning, our TMF staff share a common purpose: to serve the church in her God-appointed missions. By giving our staff an opportunity to experience giving, we built on this purpose. We are cultivating generosity from the inside. Many may not have felt the joy of giving generously until given the opportunity and extra resources to do it.

As the year continues, we look forward to seeing what happens with those gifts. But this generosity does not have strings. We have to display willingness to be generous and allow the opportunity and freedom to make some mistakes. Like faith-based entrepreneurs, the idea is to fund creative, problem-solving ventures. While the results may vary, we learn something from the effort. We as society tend to reward success not failures. We can’t ensure success all the time, but we do ensure that generosity occurs.

I am thankful for the Woolsey’s example. When I asked Mrs. Woolsey why she liked to give nickels, she said, “We know not everybody is able to give every week. But I can give everybody an opportunity to feel like they could give something."

My dad gave the service when Mr. Woolsey passed away. When he started the offering plate, he put the first nickel into it. As it wound its way through the pews, the chimes of nickels filled the sanctuary.


Curtis Vick's tenure at TMF  began in 1982, spanning 36 years and positions ranging from summer intern, programmer, senior vice president of Operations to his current role as executive vice president, tasked with implementing TMF's strategic direction. "We all have been given ministries to pursue in the world. I am proud to work alongside TMF staff as we use our individual and collective gifts to assist individuals and congregations in pursuing their own God-appointed call to serve," he said, reflecting on his years at TMF.

 

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