Q&A with John Cortines

Q&A with John Cortines


John serves as chief operating officer at Generous Giving, a non-profit that seeks to spread the biblical message of generosity. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and speaks regularly at large churches and conferences around the country. He is coauthor of the book God and Money. John and his wife, Megan, have three children and reside in Orlando, Florida.

Q: What are some ways that the Church or Christians in community can foster transparency and accountability—for the individual, and the
collective—in their giving to help the poor? 01

We want our giving to have an impact, and we want the dollars to be used the way they were intended. Thus, any church or non-profit has a duty to pursue audits of their finances and results, and to study the efficacy of their programs. Conducting and sharing the results of evidence-based research studies that quantify the impact of programs is a highly commendable step. It should be easy for any program donor to understand that 1) their dollars will go where they intend them to and 2) the organization studies impact and diligently seeks to improve their results over time.

Beyond this, anecdotal stories of impact that put a human face on the statistics are hugely important. I’ve heard it said, “Never share a statistic without a story, and never share a story without a statistic.” We need to see the human elements of a single story, and we need to understand the big-picture, macro-level impact. They go hand-in-hand.

Q: What are some ways you might encourage a more relational connection for the altruistic, often wealthier Practical Supporters, or a more tangible effort among the sympathetic Theoretical group who struggle to get involved? 02

I hear two things all the time: First, people say, “Wow, I never knew the Bible said so much about poverty and about helping the poor.” Exposure to God’s Word on this subject is a major motivator for Christians. Because this is not a popular subject from the pulpit, people tend to not know how big of a deal poverty is to God!

Secondly, people also say, “I want to help the poor, but I don’t really know any poor people.” They fail to bridge the gap between their desire to give and the opportunity to fund a highly efficient global non-profit.

Thus, people would benefit from 1) a deeper understanding of God’s heart for the poor and 2) exposure to the easy opportunity to give to those in extreme poverty through a major non-profit organization. These steps have to be sequential, in my estimation. Exposure to a giving opportunity doesn’t inspire action unless someone first understands how much God cares about this subject. Biblical understanding comes first, then the opportunity to give can follow.

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