17 Years and Still Counting—The Way of Living Generously
On June 1, 2000, I had my first day on the job at National Christian Foundation Heartland. At that time, we were known as the Christian Community Foundation in Kansas City. When we started, it was me, my cell phone, a legal pad, and a car. We had no idea of what we were doing.
For my part, I definitely was not equipped. I was an attorney, and I really knew very few people. But my own story spurred me on.
Now 17 years later, we’ve seen some amazing things:
- $2 billion in contributions
- $1.6 billion in grants to local, national, and global ministries
- More than 2,000 accounts
- Work with countless families to encourage generosity
- Learnings from ministries about the great work around the globe
When we began, our board thought we’d do well if we ever reached $100 million in contributions. (Read here for information about the foundation of National Christian Foundation Heartland.) Of course, we’ve far exceeded that. But as I reflect upon these milestones, I’m reminded of the many people who have joined us along the way:
- Frank in Colorado, now passed away, who made his first big gift when he began working with us;
- Gary in KC who was account number 6 and took a risk with a fledgling group;
- Pat, one of our early board members, who despite her wealth wasn’t too big to come in and help us stuff envelopes;
- Case from Jack Stack who always served great barbeque for our Passion Awards;
- Andy who persuaded us that God should own 51% of his company;
- An aging missionary who came to visit us and told us through tears, “All I want to do is to change a city…” (His story is highlighted in two parts here and here.)
There are so many stories. So many people. I wish I could tell them all. I’ve tried to capture a few in Stories of the Generous Life and The Generosity Bet, but many others will remain untold. Sometimes people stop and ask me, “Bill, what do you love about your job?” And I tell them simply, “It’s like going to the movies every day!” I love the stories of people—not perfect—but working at living generously.
I remember Larry. He peered at me over his Wall Street Journal. It took some time to get to know him. We had lunch at Adrian’s. He made his first gift, then a second, then a car, then a house, then eventually ownership in his business. I’ve seen him grow to a man who is now encouraging his family to live radically generous lives.
But the work is not done. There’s still more. We are living in the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world. And I believe that God desires for us to live more generously so that we can become like him, to reflect his glory and image to a dark world. It is the way of living generously.
So I invite you to join me at the movies. Come and engage in the greatest movement of generosity in the history of the world.