The new ‘normal’ may focus priorities for outreach in Haiti

By August 13, 2012

Haiti (MNN) — Reports on charitable giving are all over the
place. Some say giving is unchanged; others say it's down… like "drop off the
cliff" down.

Here's one thing charitable groups agree on: while it seems donations are recovering a little
as the economy heals, it could take years before they get back to
pre-recession levels. 

For groups like For Haiti With Love, the people they help don't have "years." They're focused on the day-to-day
survival. Eva DeHart says the shift in
giving means "we're trying to focus on getting the next generations of
Haitians prepared for the fact that America is not going to be able to help
them. The tighter those things get here,
charitable giving is the first thing to go out of the budget."

For example, tonight For Haiti With Love holds an annual fundraiser called "Christmas in August." It's
geared toward defraying the expenses of the major Christmas party they throw
in December for hundreds of kids and their families. This year, however, "We've got less than two-thirds of the people coming who
normally indicate that they're going to be there. It's going to be really down,
and that will have the snowball effect of less Christmas for the kids in
Haiti."

Donation rates are severely declining, and that could eventually mean
cutbacks elsewhere in the ministry. DeHart notes some of the Barna Research
Group studies point to a generational gap in principles of tithing and
charitable giving.

For example, the financial global crises have hit stock markets,
and that means portfolios are suffering. As a result, Barna says since Spring, 41% of all U.S. adults say they
have reduced giving to non-profit organizations as a result of the poor
economy.

Americans are also
cutting back on tithing. In the same Spring
study, one-third of Americans admitted to cutting the amount donated to
churches, and 11% admitted to cutting tithes altogether, making these figures
the highest drop-off since 2008.

There have been indicators that this slower-paced economy could be
the "new normal," much to the Baby Boomer generation's dismay. However, for their grandchildren, it's been "the new normal" for most of their lives, says DeHart. "Most of the interest we're getting in
teams right now is coming from kids, and I'm talking about pre-high school kids
who really want to serve, who really want to get involved."

As a result, there could be a re-think on how For Haiti With Love
does ministry. "It looks like that's where our hope is going to have to
come from. In the meantime, we're going to have to figure out how to survive
and how to help people survive until that generation gets functioning."

What it really boils down to, she says, is godliness. "We've
strayed too far from God, and we've got to get back to God and God's
principles. The giving will automatically come with that because God places the
giving on your heart, and if He is not in your life enough, you're not going to
listen to that. "

Ultimately, this could be the path to helping the ever resourceful Haitians toward that
self-sustaining outreach goal.  "You've
got to get them into the position of not looking at the people bringing the
message, but at the message. If their relationship is directly with God and not
with the missionaries, then they start turning to Him for their guidance and
they start looking for the ways that they are supposed to work with God to
provide."

It turns out the old adage is true: "The charitable give out the door and God
puts it back through the window," but both have to be open.

See our Featured Links Section for details on For Haiti With
Love's ministry.   

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