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FRESH IDEAS & LATEST NEWS

Mar 6, 2017 at 4:02 PM

Millennial Connections

Nepali school childrenWe never know where we will connect with something that speaks to our heart’s desire. For my friend and colleague, Mike Luedke, it was through an unlikely friendship with a Nepali immigrant, Ojash, whom he met through work. Mike describes Ojash as a cool, calm, and collected guy who was able to help unravel a really tough tech problem while consulting for Mike and the company he was working for at the time. That demeanor drew Mike in, and they started to become friends over international cuisine – something they both shared an interest in. Mike was just out of school and already asking some tough questions: “What else is there in life?” and thinking, “I want more meaning.” On their lunch breaks, Ojash would talk about his homeland of Nepal and the rampant poverty and illiteracy. Mike recognized the vision and purpose Ojash spoke with when talking about making a difference there, and he was hooked.

Today, Mike, Ojash and about 15 others run Ganga Ghar, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “improve the lives of impoverished children in Nepal by sponsoring their education and ensuring adequate nutrition and clothing for their families.” They now sponsor upwards of 80 children.

In 2015, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which interrupted and redirected Ganga Ghar’s work. Getting relief and medical supplies into the hardest hit areas became the immediate focus. And just last year, Ganga Ghar re-opened a school that had been reduced to rubble in the quake.

Interestingly enough, Mike says that the earthquake has the Ganga Ghar team, and Mike himself, stepping back and reflecting on their work in Nepal, asking themselves: “Are we serving in a way that brings transformation to the lives of those we reach and those we partner with?”

As part of his personal Generosity Gameplan, Mike is wanting to re-confirm the giving of his currencies as a transformational act of generosity. Is it bringing about personal growth, relationship growth, organizational growth, community growth, and spiritual growth?

This examination is driven by one of Ganga Ghar’s core values – a “deep desire to transform the world by transforming the lives of others.” So now that the school is rebuilt, Mike and Ganga Ghar want to make sure they are continuing to connect with their donors’, sponsors’ and partners’ desires to change the world for the children and families in Nepal that need it the most.

Stepping back often and evaluating questions like these is an important part of your Generosity Gameplan. Things change. The world changes. Our circumstances change. It’s necessary for us to make sure that the giving of our currencies remains in line with our heart’s desire.

You can find out more about Ganga Ghar at their website: gangaghar.org or Facebook page: facebook.com/gangaghar.


Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of other generosity champions.

Jan 31, 2017 at 9:11 AM

Ripples of Generosity: the Multiplier Effect

So African womanWhen you spend your currencies, whether it be relationships, strengths or resources, and you realize that your efforts are being amplified and multiplied we call that the Multiplier Effect.

A perfect example are my friends Barb and Gary Rosberg of America’s Family Coaches. They have a wonderful ministry in the nation of South Africa. Each year they spend about a month serving the Zulu women who care for and feed children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and are living on the streets.

This trip is made possible by an anonymous gift that covers the cost of their airfare to and from South Africa. Among the many details that go into the yearly planning of this trip, Barb and Gary know that their travel costs are covered.

Once they arrive, they are able to be fully present. Gary supports Barb as she teaches Godly relationship principles to these Zulu women through The Six Secrets to Godly Relationships, which they wrote together. Barb designed a beautiful necklace that tells the story of the six secrets, that she gives to the women to help empower and encourage them. They, in turn, care for and feed the physical and spiritual needs of children who have lost much at a young age. In the years to come the hope, care and education given by these “thandle” (Zulu for “beloved”) women will ripple through this generation and onto the next. What may seem a simple gift by this donor has effects that will ripple for generations to come.

Like Jesus when he fed the 5,000 with only a few loaves and fishes, these donors realize that their generous efforts are being amplified and multiplied when they spend their resources. You give something away and you receive as much or more back in return. You give but your supply isn’t diminished. Your gift benefits both you and others in a win-win scenario.

How have you seen your gifts multiply and ripple throughout the communities you give to/volunteer with? Please share with our community by leaving me a comment.


Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of others who have become generosity champions.

Dec 20, 2016 at 4:16 PM

John Stanley interview on FamilyLife radio

headset on microphoneFrom a most out of the way place comes a rich message about how to keep and grow healthy families…Little Rock, Arkansas. That was my sense after spending a day at FamilyLife headquarters being interviewed by Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine about my book, Connected for Good.

It turns out that a healthy family contributes to a person being grateful, and gratitude in turn motivates a person to be generous…starting with their family.

You can listen to my interview here FamilyLife


Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of others who have overcome discouragement and become generosity champions.

Dec 1, 2016 at 3:29 PM

Generous Connections guest blog – Fred Smith: Keeping a soft heart in hard times

mitten hands holding heartMy friend Fred Smith, from Tyler Texas, has insights into navigating life that I appreciate very much. Once, in 1998, after casting a vision for my company, The Legacy Group, he asked me, “John, how do you see yourself helping generous people?” I answered, “I want to help them be effective.” He responded, “ Donors don’t need help in being effective they need your help in finding clarity about what God has called them to do.” This advice fundamentally changed my course.

In his latest blog Fred gives a voice to what many of us are feeling this time of year as we respond to the needs facing our world, nation and neighborhoods. I hope you enjoy his thoughts. You can find more from Fred at The Gathering, a multigenerational community of Christian donors who learn together how to act on their hearts desire for generosity. -John

Keeping a soft heart in hard times
I love the martial arts choreography in movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I asked a black belt friend how he hardened his hands for real (not staged) competition. It seemed easy enough. Set up a five-gallon bucket of white rice and punch your hands in it 10-12 times in a row five times a day. When that no longer hurts use a five-gallon bucket of dry beans for several weeks and then graduate to five gallons of sand.

While it takes time to become hardened it is a simple process. My martial arts friend cautioned me, “Be careful. The process is irreversible once the calluses are there…and you could really hurt someone with them.”

Likewise, I’ve discovered a way to build calluses on the heart – especially this time of year. Plunge your heart five times a day into websites, television and email coming from nonprofits and ministries. (While “Giving Tuesday” may be an extraordinary example of the power of social media with more than 114 billion Twitter impressions and almost one million Facebook mentions on a single day, it still has the effect of a sudden swarm of gnats.) When the numbing is sufficient start on your direct mail stack, cards and personal letters. When most of the feeling is gone, move up to repeated punching into personal visits, phone calls and notes from friends. For the final hardening, dwell on all the disappointments, misused gifts, unrealistic expectations and relentless pictures of children and women. Read articles on charity fraud, waste and corruption. By then you should have to register your heart as a lethal weapon and warn people before meeting them.

Is that really what God wants? I believe what He desires instead is for us to resist becoming hardhearted. What I have discovered and heard from others is this: resistance training builds heart muscle not calluses. Constant outside pressure builds calluses. Constant exposure to irritation builds calluses while patient practice of giving skills builds strength. Muscles are alive and growing. Calluses are dead and hard. There is no way to avoid the predictable barrage of incoming requests for help – especially in this economy and season. Focus on the few things that matter most to you and refuse to let your heart mind and soul become hardened. The process is irreversible for hands…but not for hearts.


Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of fellow generosity champions.

Oct 31, 2016 at 10:08 AM

Generous Connections guest blog – Gary Hoag: Four tips for leaving a legacy of Christian generosity

Hoag fam at memorialFour Tips for Leaving a Legacy of Christian Generosity
by Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D.

On a fly fishing trip this summer, I shared parts of my personal story with my dear friend, John Stanley. That led to the invitation to write this post on the rich inheritance I received. In short, I told him that my grandparents and parents did at least four things to build a legacy of Christian generosity. I offer them freely as four tips for every family to consider!

(1) They told me inspiring stories of my ancestors. Since my childhood, I watched shows every Christmas season, and my favorite one has always been the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. At a young age, I learned that that movie was based on the real-life generosity of people like my great grandparents, John and Edna Pease Hoag.

John and Edna built up multiple business that put a lot of people to work during the first part of the 20th century. In so doing, they amassed great wealth. What makes their story so interesting is that gave it all away to save their town during the Great Depression. They were heroes, and they were my grandparents! Their peers were so grateful that they erected a monument in front of City Hall in Rocky River, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), so their legacy would inspire future citizens.

I learned John and Edna would often say, “Our wealth is like a cup. God filled it for us to have something to enjoy and share.” Over the years I heard more stories of how God filled their cups, again and again, to have resources to enjoy and share, over and over. When our children were 12 and 13 years old, my wife, Jenni, and I took them to see it (photo above).

(2) They backed their words with works. My grandparents and parents used intentional language and backed their talk with their walk. As I grew up, they repeatedly said, “We want to teach you what it means to be a Hoag: when God blesses us with resources, and the church or ministries have financial needs, we get to give.”

They would then make a gift according to their ability to a project. They often keep their giving a secret to the public but they often told us what they did, not to toot their own horn, but to teach us “what it means to be a Hoag.” I probably heard and saw a dozen examples before it stuck. Don’t assume your children or grandchildren are paying attention!

(3) They taught me how to give. When each grandchild turned 21 (there were six of us and I was the youngest), Grandma Hoag (because by the time I hit 21, grandpa had passed away) with the aid of my parents, gave me $10,000 worth of stock and said, “Set up a brokerage account and show us the balance a year from now. If you squander it, you will never see another dime.” Their aim was to teach me about dividends, stock splits, capital gains taxes, and charitable giving.

A year later they gave me another $10,000 in stocks and said, “You may use some of these funds to buy an appreciating asset like a home someday, but please also use part of the stocks for your giving.” They taught me that I could give more by giving stock that had appreciated rather than cash. These were lessons best learned by experience. The shares of stock helped my wife and me buy our first home, while also teaching me how to minimize taxes and maximize charitable giving. That’s all the money they ever left me. They gave it while living to help us get a place to live and to learn how to give.

(4) They gave me the best biblical inheritance. In the world, money solves all our problems, which is why people stockpile it, put their hope in it, and think a boatload of it is the best inheritance. God’s word says something different. Verses like Proverbs 13:22 say that “a good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children” and Scripture defines inheritance much more broadly. In the Bible, inheritance is best linked to three things: a place (“land”), a trade (“work”), and a deep faith (“Christ”). So good people, from God’s perspective, give an inheritance worth far more than money.

My grandparents and parents used a popular maxim to help my young brain learn to grasp my biblical inheritance. I also think they chose it because I liked fishing. They said, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” On our family land, they taught me how to work, earn a living, and to use the funds I earned according to God’s purposes: for living, giving, serving, and loving. They also taught me that life was not found in money, but in Christ. For me, learning how to fish, was about learning how to live, give, serve, and love as a follower of Christ. In teaching me how to live and work along with what to believe, they gave me the greatest biblical inheritance of all.

Ever been fly fishing? If you want to know more, perhaps book a day of guided fly fishing with my son and me like John did. Or perhaps these four tips just make sense? Like angling, you really only get good with practice, so I suggest you try these four tips. Tell stories, back your words with works, teach your children and grandchildren how to live and give while you are alive, and give them a biblical inheritance. Do this and you too will leave a legacy that will shape generations after you!


Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of others who have overcome discouragement and become generosity champions.