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Why do people give?

I’m sure those far more expert than I have asked and answered this question. Still, I’ll share some ideas with you.

I thought about creating something akin to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for giving — ranking forms of generosity. I decided against it, however, realizing that I don’t really know what are better and worse forms of giving. So, here is my non-exhaustive list of why people give.

Hype, hokum, promises, and lies 😜
If you give to the Reformed Journal, you will join an elite cadre of influencers, as well as roughly 7 million daily readers. Give via the once-a-month plan, and we will make sure that every single morning, you’ll be among the first to receive your very own personal daily installment of “The Twelve,” right there in your inbox! Moreover, we can guarantee that Jesus loves you and that all your prayers will be heard.

Guilt 😰
Sure, the Reformed Journal is free, absolutely free. Through the great sacrifice and unpaid toil of a few, many are blessed. Every day. All the time. No one has to pay. It’s all right there for the taking. Freely-given. Some choose to be moochers, to ride on the generous coattails of others. Yet as Christians, we, most of all, know that it is those gifts that are free which demand the most meaningful and costly response. Gifts like God’s love never present us with a bill. What we owe is incalculable. None of us could ever pay what this gift is truly worth. What will you give in response to this free and gracious gift?

Reason 😒
Nearly every day you drop $4.50 on a latte. Craft beers are $7 a toss. Netflix basic is $8.99 per month. (Does anybody actually have basic?) An annual membership to Amazon Prime is $119. If you would give 25 cents per day to the Reformed Journal you’d give $91.25 per year, and you’d never miss that money.

Duty 😕
Duty is not especially fashionable these days. It sounds dismal and inconvenient. Spontaneity and random acts of kindness get all the love. Nonetheless, there are some people who don’t need the limelight or a lump in their throat to give. They give astutely and methodically. They give because it is the right thing to do. They give to support the greater good. Often they give to the overlooked and underappreciated, to those without an eight-person Advancement Staff and a slick brochure. The Reformed Journal is such a place and such a cause. Your monthly gift builds community and encourages conversation, nourishing both heart and mind.

Personal Relationships 😘
You’ve been reading Debra Rienstra and Jim Schaap for ten years or more. Voices like Laura deJong and Nathan Groenewold tell you there are great up-and-comers to fill their stead. These people are your friends, your colleagues, your companions. Long term buds. These friends of yours now need your support. Show them some love. (Give at the $100 a month level and you’ll receive an autographed 8×10 glossy of Jeff Munroe. Sorry — some hype, hokum, and lies slipped in.)

Joy 😀
Often when you read “The Twelve,” savor a poem, or ponder a podcast on the RJ site, don’t you find a little smile coming to your lips? We discover a dollop of joy? Maybe just enough hope to persevere for the next 28 minutes? We’re touched. We feel less alone. We’re grateful. We think of writing “Thank you” in the comments or sharing on Facebook. But most of the time, we don’t. Joy begets joy. Love overflows into giving. When we give back, joy increases exponentially. How can we best say “thanks”? How do we multiply the joy? By giving to the Reformed Journal today.

Support The Reformed Journal

Your monthly financial contribution allows us to continue to express the Reformed faith theologically; to engage issues that Reformed Christians meet in personal, ecclesiastical, and societal life.

Okay, this request may fall under “Hype, Hokum…” and/or “Guilt.” But if you give a gift today, or earlier in our fundraising campaign, I encourage you to write “Yes!” or “I did” in the comments. Wave your flag. And if you’re a conscientious objector, I understand.

Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell

Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell is a recently retired minister of the Reformed Church in America. He has been the convener of the Reformed Journal’s daily blog since its inception in 2011. He and his wife, Sophie, reside in Des Moines, Iowa.


  • Tony Vis says:

    Done! Thanks to all of you who give of your personal time, creativity and wisdom to make The Twelve happen. I look forward to it hitting my inbox everyday.

  • Kathy says:

    I look forward to starting my day with reading the reformed Journal. Lately we have received requests for giving. It would be helpful to know what it costs to send out the daily and weekly offerings. Or more so, why it costs? What expenses do you have? Can you let us know what challenges you face? I’m curious . . .

    • Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell says:

      Thanks, Kathy. The short answer is “technology”–hosting services, people who take care of the site, problem-solve, etc. Our aim would be to have money to spend on content.

  • Jane says:

    I did! I’m so grateful for the thoughtful and insightful writing found here. I look forward to each day’s offering.
    Thank you!!!

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    I do. Monthly.

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