Leadership Giving

Your first question might be, what exactly is leadership giving?

Leadership giving is a principle introduced in the Old Testament that is still relevant today. Two main passages teach this concept. In Exodus 25, Moses asked for gifts to build the tabernacle:

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast piece.’” (Exodus 25:1-7).

In 1 Chronicles 29, David gathered resources to construct the temple:

“Then King David said to the whole assembly: ‘My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?’  Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron. Anyone who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly” (1 Chronicles 29:1-9).

We see a model for giving in each of these passages. God told Moses to start with gifts of “gold, silver and bronze” (Ex. 25:2). Who had valuable gifts like this to give? The leaders of Israel, presumably. But He also added the phrase, “from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.” Moses invited everyone to give, but he asked the leaders to give first.

King David followed the same model. The first gifts were gold, silver, bronze, iron, followed by wood, fine stones, and marble. The key phrase appears in 1 Chronicles 29:3-5, where David gave his OWN treasures for the temple. He did not ask others to do what he was not willing to do himself. He set the pace, and everyone followed his lead.

This is how the 1 Chronicles 29 campaign ended, “Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work (all) gave willingly” (vs. 6). When the people saw their leaders give, they rejoiced for what God was accomplishing (vs. 9). When your leaders set the pace, others will be inspired to give.

Who are the “leaders” in your organization? Who should be the first to give? Depending on the type of non-profit you are, this would include the trustees, foundation board, steering committee (if you are engaged in a capital campaign), staff, parents, and possibly even service recipients. Each of these groups serves in leadership in some way and together they form your “leadership giving.”

Four Takeaways:

•  Start with your giving. David gave first in 1 Chronicles 29:1-5, then the other the leaders gave (vs. 6-7), and finally the rest of the people joined in (vs. 8-9).

•  Start at the top. Top-down giving begins with the leaders (gold, silver bronze).

•  Move inside-out. Giving should start with those who are the closest to the ministry, then move to those who are less involved.

•  Invite everyone to give. Exodus 25:2 and 35:4, “Everyone who is willing…” It’s important to ask everyone in your constituency to partner in fulfilling your mission.

So, how much should each person give?
This is a very personal matter, between the individual and God, leading through his Holy Spirit. Moses said, “From what you have, take an offering for the Lord” (Exodus 35:4). Can you give a gift of gold? If so, you should. Maybe your gift is fine linen, acacia wood, or onyx stone. Giving is about “equal sacrifice, not equal gifts.” If you pray and ask God with a sincere and open heart, he will speak to you.

Paul gives this instruction for leaders:
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:15-17).

Leaders demonstrate their leadership through their sacrificial giving. Lead by example and others will follow.


About the Author: Kent Vanderwood, Vice President – Kent offers clients over 35 years of non-profit experience including teaching, administrative, consulting, and directorships. Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. He currently serves as a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.

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