You’ve no doubt heard the maxim, “It is better to give than to receive.” It comes from Acts 20:35. "In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” These words are nestled within St. Paul’s admonition that we should work as we are able to take care of our own needs (just as he did), not unnecessarily taking charity but willingly giving it to those in need.

So how do we strike that balance? How do we work for and store up sufficient wealth for our own needs, and yet give generously out of our whole life? Most of our wealth is tied up in assets like our homes, farms and businesses, retirement savings, and so on. Is it possible to give generously out of these things while still responsibly providing for our own needs? We need a house to live in. We need an income to pay for our living costs in retirement. Is it possible to give out of our assets in a way that still allows them to provide for our needs?


Certain planned giving tools are available that allow the giver to give while still receiving an income from their assets for a period of years or for a lifetime. It may even be possible to have that income continue to a surviving heir for a second lifetime.

A Charitable Gift Annuity is a planned giving tool that provides fixed payments to the donor or beneficiary of their choosing for life. The remainder then benefits the ministries and/or other charities you have named.

A Charitable Remainder Trust provides a stream of income for a specified period of years with the remainder going to the congregation, synod, and/or other charities.

A Life Estate Gift allows the donor to give away a home or other property but retain the use of it for the remainder of their life.

These are just a few examples of how planned giving can enable you go give more generously than you may have imagined. You can be blessed in your giving while still responsibly taking care of your own needs.  


Tharan Leopold is the ELCA Foundation’s Regional Gift Planner in Southeastern Minnesota. His services are available at no charge to those interested in leaving legacy gifts to local congregations, the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, camps and campus ministries, or other ministries of the ELCA. He can be reached at 507-838-1980 or The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal, investment, or tax advice.