The Lifestyle Finish Line: When Is Enough… Enough?
The most important conversations are the hardest ones to have. Nowhere is this truer than in conversations around finances, generosity, and contentment. That’s why an objective third-party stewardship professional is critical to engaging your donors on these topics.
There is a point—an amount—at which a person or family has more than enough money to pay for what they want out of life. The home, the cars, the education, the savings, etc.
This number will not be the same for everyone. And not everyone will attain it.
But it is very real.
Our friends at Generous Giving refer to this number as the “Lifestyle Finish Line.” This is the financial line that when crossed, the person or family has enough to cover the ongoing expenses of their lifestyle.
Mark the Lifestyle Finish Line Well
A big problem you see all the time is that most people (your donors) do not know their number. They do not know when enough is enough.
And so they keep working hard to get even more money, assets, investments—the list goes on and on. They get stuck on the treadmill of materialism thinking that if they just had more, they would be satisfied.
This is a tragedy.
When an individual does not clearly mark out their lifestyle finish line, they’ll never find it. They’ll never know they’ve crossed it.When a person doesn’t clearly define their lifestyle finish line, they’ll never find it. Do you know yours? Click To Tweet
For people who’ve not clarified that number to themselves, the line keeps getting moved. Success avoids them like the elusive carrot on a string. So close… but yet so far.
How Much Land Does a Man Need?
Not knowing one’s number can be dangerous. There’s a short story told by Leo Tolstoy about a Russian peasant named Pahom. In the story, an ill-fated thought comes into his head.
“If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!”
One day, an opportunity came for Pahom to buy some land from an uneducated, indigenous tribe who offered him all the land he wanted for a low price. The catch?
Pahom could only buy the land he could walk around in one day—he had to start at one point and walk an entire circle back to that same spot.
Pahom was ecstatic. The land those dimwitted tribesmen owned was by far the richest soil he could imagine to farm on. He could easily walk 35 miles in a day, which meant a lot of land—and a lot of money from farming it!
He started out early. He made good time, marking his way with a spade shovel as he went. But as the heat of the day wore on, Pahom got wearier and wearier.
But each time Pahom thought to make a turn to make his way back, he decided to go even further ahead because “The further one goes, the better the land seems.”
Suddenly, he realized that he could never get back in time. The sun was almost to the horizon—and he was 10 miles away!
Pahom pushed himself hard. And he made it, to the cheers of all the tribesmen.
But he wouldn’t enjoy it. Pahom died of exhaustion, watching the Devil laughing at him.
Pahom’s servant buried him there. Come to find out all the land he needed was six feet from his head to his heels.
The Line Where Generosity Begins
While the personal tragedy of Tolstoy’s story is profound, the tragedy goes deeper than one’s own life.
When a person does not know their lifestyle finish line, they’ll never have enough, and therefore, they’ll never feel like they have any extra to give.
But if they clearly mark their lifestyle finish line, they can find the freedom they need from the hamster wheel of always working for more, and begin to give more.A clear lifestyle finish line frees you from the materialism treadmill. When is enough, enough for you? Click To Tweet
In this sense, the lifestyle finish line is where generosity begins.
When your donor knows they’ve reached their number, they are confident in giving extravagantly to your cause because they fully realize just how safe, satisfied, and blessed they are.
Everything above and beyond the number they’ve set is ready to be invested in the causes that are dear to their heart.
There’s complete freedom, complete confidence, complete joy in giving when they’ve crossed their lifestyle finishing line!
How do you get them to mark out their line?
Most of the nonprofit and ministry leaders I speak to understand this concept very well. They want all of their donors to be comfortable and have all they need for their lifestyles.
But you probably know that you have some donors who could give much more than they do. You know that giving more would not interfere one iota with their lifestyle or personal security.
So how do you bring it up?
You don’t… You can’t.
This is the hard truth about leading a nonprofit or being a fundraiser. You know certain donors could make transformational gifts that would change both your organization and them in beautiful ways. You know that giving to their potential would bring them greater joy and satisfaction in life.
But you can’t bring it up. You’ve got something to gain—and that creates an unavoidable conflict of interest.
Helping Donors Mark Their Finish Lines Well
That’s what The Giving Crowd is here for. We are a team of stewardship professionals that are committed to having these kinds of confidential conversations with your donors—so that your donors can find their finish line.
And when your donors find their lifestyle finish line, they’ll find the starting line for a new level of generosity.
For example, my family and I are devoted to Compassion International’s mission to sponsor children in impoverished areas around the world. But, I’d never talk with a Compassion International representative about how my financial life is doing or how to decide on my lifestyle finish line.
And I wouldn’t have that conversation with any other nonprofit representative—it would be just too awkward! Worse yet, it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to know me that intimately.
That’s where financial and stewardship professionals can come alongside both donors and nonprofits like you.
We can talk with donors about these deep, important issues because we’re an objective, third party with a proven track record of helping donors not only discover how much is enough but also where they want to make a difference in this world.
If you’d like to know more how we can help unlock your donor’s giving potential and level of joy in life through biblical stewardship, let’s talk!