It is a sad and ironic fact that, at a time when philanthropic work is more vital than ever, the future of many charities is looking increasingly uncertain. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of charities have been forced to reduce or completely stop vital services at a time when vulnerable people in society need them most.

Charities are expecting to lose around a third of their income over the next three months, Karl Wilding, chief executive of NCVO, has told MPs. In fact, losses are likely to exceed £1bn across the charity sector as events are cancelled and individual giving drops. As a result, many charities and organisations, including the Evangelical Alliance, have furloughed staff to cope with any dip in income. Yet, furloughing staff is not always an option for many smaller charities.

The picture is just as bleak for many supporters of charities, who are understandably concerned about how they will cope at a time of financial uncertainty, especially if they themselves have been directly impacted by job loss, for example. Giving to charity is not at the forefront of many people’s minds, maybe not even on their radar, with many deciding to tighten their belts instead. Yet, at the same time, it is absolutely essential that Christian charities weather this storm, as they play such a pivotal role in making Jesus – the one who defeated sin and death – known in word and deed. 

In the great commission, Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 – 20). Whether directly or indirectly, this is exactly what Christian charities are doing, and have been doing for hundreds of years. By providing much needed care to the most vulnerable in our communities, relieving poverty and teaching essential skills to those in the developing world, advocating on behalf of the marginalised, and speaking as a Christian voice to the media and government, Christian charities work as Jesus’ hands and feet, sharing His love throughout the world.

Charities like The Trussell Trust, which is committed to ending hunger and poverty in the UK through its network of foodbanks; Barnabus Project, whose work to support and protect the homeless is even more vital in these challenging times; and Tearfund, which continues to bring practical help and powerful hope to vulnerable communities around the world. In fact, why not try Tearfund’s Join The Climb initiative, which is a great way to make the most of your lockdown by helping those living in poverty who will face the challenges of coronavirus more severely than we will. 

How could we as Christians approach giving in this time of uncertainty, so that we can show our support for vital causes like these?

  • Be prayerful

    Undoubtedly the most important part of giving is prayer. We must always be prayerful in asking God how we should steward our finances. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 7, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” When we seek God’s wisdom, He promises to help us. So before making any decisions, we must ask God to view our finances through His eyes, rather than through our own. We might just find that a thought, a cause or a charity springs to mind as we seek God, and, if so, let’s be generous and selfless in our giving, trusting that God is guiding us in His infinite wisdom.
  • Start a new giving habit

    In this time of social distancing when we are all spending more time in our homes, we are being encouraged to try new things and develop new routines. From virtual gym workouts to cooking classes and language learning, people all over the world are taking up new and exciting hobbies. Yet trying new things does not just have to be about improving our own individual lives in lockdown. Perhaps there is a cause that has always been close to our heart, but that, for whatever reason, we have not financially supported before. If lockdown is the time to start new habits, then why not start giving to a charity working to spread God’s hope and love at this particularly challenging time?
  • Giving a little is better than nothing at all

    Your gift, no matter how small, can make a huge difference. You don’t have to give thousands of pounds to a charity in order to change lives and transform communities. In fact, it is often the small gifts that come together to have the greatest impact. The story of the widow’s offering (Mark 12; Luke 21) challenges a commonly held view of generosity, illustrating powerfully the value of selfless giving, no matter how small your contribution may be.

    Whether you give £3 or £3,000 to a charity of your choice today, be confident in the knowledge that, through this act of worship, you are making a valuable contribution to furthering God’s kingdom. At the same time, it is also worth acknowledging that some of us may find that we have not been greatly impacted financially by the current situation, and are in a much better position than others. Perhaps you could consider giving more than usual to support a charity close to your heart, recognising that other supporters may be forced to cut back on their giving.

    Not only will this be a great blessing to the charity you support, but God promises to acknowledge your generosity and bless you abundantly in ways you cannot imagine (Proverbs 11:25; Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:8). Something that I myself have considered is giving all that I would normally spend on travel fares and socialising to charity. As this is money I have not had to spend during the lockdown, it seems only natural to give this to a cause that needs it much more than I do.

Whatever and however you choose to give in the weeks ahead, let’s keep looking to God and living by the promise in Malachi 3 wherever we can: Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” 

If you would like to give a one-off gift to support our work at the Evangelical Alliance, we would be so grateful. Your support will enable us to proclaim the gospel, speak up and out in the public square, and resource our members at a time of anxiety and suffering for so many. Because, together, we can make Jesus known. 

Image by Jan Vašek

Whatever and however you choose to give in the weeks ahead, let’s keep looking to God and living by the promise in Malachi 3.