2018 | Week of December 31 | #1289
If you watch any TV at all, you’ve likely seen the commercial from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). It’s especially run at this time of year. I just saw it again the other day as I was getting my daily treadmill experience. Trust me…news or even a Hallmark movie makes that time MUCH more pleasant!
I’m an animal lover. Always have been. But as I listened to “Silent Night” being sung in the background and watched picture after picture of mistreated animals and heard about their plight, I must say I got a bit perturbed. It’s not the animals I’m upset with, and it’s not the people who have done bad things to animals I am upset with—although I think the Bible makes it clear that treating animals decently is right and being cruel to them is wrong. I was upset with the ASPCA and those who did the ad for them.
They know exactly what they are doing—exploiting our emotions so they can rake in the money. And rake in the money they do. According to financial records, this so-called “animal-rights” organization brought in over $200 million in revenue in 2015, over $100 million of which is raised each year off these emotionally charged ads. Likewise, the Humane Society of the United States brings in over $130 million a year, most of it from sympathetic donors.
Interestingly, at least one not-for-profit watchdog group notes that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at the national level doesn’t spend much to actually help animals, only about 4% of its revenue in recent years. The rest appears to be spent on overhead and, surprise, surprise, on fund-raising.
The ads are compelling to be sure. Most people don’t want to see animals suffer—and when highly emotional ads get their attention, many people’s natural response is to give—and give generously. Imagine how many older people get caught up in the emotion of such ads and write checks from accounts funded strictly by social security.
So what’s the point of all this during this first week of the new year? Well, like every other not-for-profit, we’ve just wound up our year-end investment campaign; and that’s made me think a great deal about priorities—giving priorities in particular.
What do we value so highly that we will give in support of it, sometimes even giving considerably beyond our means? In 2019, what will you invest financially in that will reflect your beliefs and values? There’s definitely no lack of places vying for your attention.
One giving area true Christians must make a priority is their church. True confession—I’m pretty much what is known as a “store-house” tither. I believe my first giving priority is to be my church, the place where I am a member and receive spiritual sustenance on a regular basis. Further, I believe my giving to my church starts with at least 10 per cent of my income. This priority comes out of a belief that the local church is God’s plan for today in carrying out the Great Commission and equipping believers to do the work of ministry.
But after our church priority, what will we value highly enough in 2019 to give financially to? Scripture says where our treasure is, our heart will be also.
As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of basically everything God gives us, not just our money, but our time, talents, opportunities, possessions and more. It seems to me this requires me to know what God values so that I can invest in people, programs, and projects that are in line with His principles and precepts. After all, we have to sort through all the ads and asks and that needs to be done much more with our mind than with our emotions, which will include doing some research to make sure where we’re investing is actually using the money to forward the mission in a direct and impactful way.
We will each be faced with numerous giving and investment opportunities this year. For me, I’ll continue resisting the irresponsible, emotionally charged, pitiful animal ads and focus on supporting what I truly value: God’s plan for marriage and family, the sanctity of human life and religious freedom, which results in my investing in Christian education, Christian radio, and pregnancy help centers to name a few. Giving priorities are personal and individual, to be sure. May God grant you discernment and direction as you consider what you value and your giving priorities in 2019. Imagine the difference we can make when our values and giving priorities reflect God’s values and priorities.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”