How May I Contribute?
MONEY means almost everything to some people, but to the servant of God it is mainly a means to an end. Perhaps it is for that reason that many who love money and some who are not that concerned about it are amazed to see what the Christian society of Jehovah’s witnesses has been able to do and is doing without any loud ado about finances. Their huge national and international conventions are always a wonderment to many. Their large printing plants, where an enormous amount of Bibles and Bible literature is printed yearly, have captured the admiration of printers and other people alike. They have also constructed thousands of Kingdom Halls and have sent out missionaries to many lands. The fact that Jehovah’s witnesses have been able to do all this and more, without the customary passing of the collection plate, fund-raising drives, bingo games, bazaars, raffles, carnivals, renting of pews, tithing and other methods commonly used today to appropriate money for organizational support, is truly a marvel indeed! How, then, is their work carried on?
Recently, a young man, with whom one of Jehovah’s witnesses was conducting a home Bible study, raised this very question. He said: “This week I read some of the 1962 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses and was impressed with the great amount of work you people are doing. But what I don’t understand is how all of this is financed. Surely it costs money to operate a world organization; still you never ask for donations. You have never asked me for any, I know. Who pays the bills? How do you keep going? What’s your secret?”
The answers to these intriguing questions proved revealing to the householder and they may to you too. The discussion went something like this:
HOW MONEY IS RAISED
WITNESS: It is no secret how the Watch Tower Society, the legal agent for Jehovah’s witnesses, gets its money. If the Watch Tower Society were a commercial organization, the question of how money is obtained, of course, would not arise. But because the Watch Tower Society is a charitable organization and because it does not follow the methods of Christendom’s religions, taking up money collections or tithes, there is a good deal of wonderment as to how the Society gets its money and supports itself.
HOUSEHOLDER: Well, how does it raise the needed money?
WITNESS: The money comes from willing, unforced, unsolicited givers. They contribute according to their prosperity and ability to do so.
HOUSEHOLDER: Who are these contributors?
WITNESS: Principally they are Jehovah’s witnesses who have been moved by the love of God and his Word and by his spirit to contribute, not only money, but time, effort and ability, to the spreading of the message of man’s salvation by means of God’s kingdom.
HOUSEHOLDER: That’s amazing to hear, because I recall reading in Time magazine the statement of a clergyman who said that there were so many special financial drives in the churches today that, as he put it: “I find there are only three Sundays in the year that I can preach the Gospel of Christ.” It’s wonderful to hear that you do not go in for these drives.
WITNESS: Jehovah’s witnesses understand and appreciate the purpose for which the Watch Tower Society has been formed, namely, to spread Bible truths in as many languages as possible by every proper means. The desire to see this done moves or motivates them to support it.
HOUSEHOLDER: Are there enough who willingly support the work this way?
WITNESS: Jehovah’s witnesses have never gone begging for finances. For this we are very grateful to God, because we realize that this is his work and that he is seeing to it by means of his spirit that it gets done. The many privileges of supporting the worldwide witness to God’s kingdom have been grasped voluntarily and cheerfully. At Zechariah 4:6 we learn that it is God’s spirit that is leading the people to respond that way.
HOUSEHOLDER: It’s gratifying and yet humbling to hear you say that. It makes one feel that God does care for us.
WITNESS: Yes, it’s good to know what the apostle Paul says at Acts 17:27, that God “is not far off from each one of us,” that he does care for us.
HOUSEHOLDER: That’s a comforting thought.
WITNESS: Have you ever wondered if Jehovah’s people of ancient times contributed as we do today?
HOUSEHOLDER: I have given it some thought and often wondered if they were called upon to contribute, yes.
WITNESS: From times of old Jehovah has permitted men and women to contribute of their own free will money, or material wealth, to the support of his work on earth. If this were not so, the widow mentioned at Luke 21:1-4 would not have dropped her two coins, her last mite, into the treasury chest or contribution box at the temple, causing Jesus to say she gave more than all the other contributors.
HOUSEHOLDER: So they had contribution boxes where people could drop their coins. Well, isn’t that interesting?
WITNESS: There were times when the Israelites contributed quite openly too. For example, at Exodus 35:5-9; 36:5-7 we read of a contribution taken up and of the people’s willing response. It is known that King David openly and willingly contributed $140,980,800 in gold and silver toward temple construction. His contribution was an evidence of his faith in the project. Our contributions are a demonstration of our faith in Jehovah’s work. At Psalm 110:3 we read that Jehovah’s people “will offer themselves willingly.” And so it has been from Abel’s day down to our time.
WHERE AND HOW TO CONTRIBUTE
HOUSEHOLDER: This idea of giving willingly appeals to me. Suppose I desired to contribute to the local congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses, how would I go about doing it?
WITNESS: That’s simple enough. In each Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses there is a contribution box, usually in the rear of the hall. You may place your contribution there if you like. There are no records kept of the contribution. In fact, no one but yourself will know the amount you contribute or even if you contribute.
HOUSEHOLDER: That’s a nice arrangement. It saves people from embarrassment. But what if it is inconvenient for me to go to the Kingdom Hall? Is it proper for me to give my contribution to one of Jehovah’s witnesses and have him place it in the box for me?
WITNESS: Of course this is proper and is quite frequently done. However, we would enjoy and prefer having you come to the Kingdom Hall and take in the spiritual program.
HOUSEHOLDER: I appreciate that. But do you mind if I ask, How will the money that I contribute be used?
WITNESS: The money will be used to further the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom, to further Bible education in this community. None of it goes for a minister’s salary, because all of us contribute our time. But it costs money to provide a meeting place where people can gather together as a congregation to hear the Word of God and to build up the faith of one another. And some of the funds may be sent to the headquarters of the Society to be used for furthering the preaching work in other ways.
HOUSEHOLDER: How is that done?
WITNESS: Many congregations pass a resolution to send a certain amount to the Society regularly. This is also often done at our circuit and district assemblies.
HOUSEHOLDER: Don’t individuals contribute directly to the Society too? Could I, for example, contribute directly to the Watch Tower Society?
WITNESS: Yes, you can by sending your contribution to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Treasurer’s Office, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn 1, N. Y. In lands outside the United States persons can direct their donations to the local branch office, obtaining the address from the list that appears in the back of most of the Society’s books and booklets. To help the organization plan its work, what many do is to write a note to the Society stating how much they hope to contribute during the year, and then they send the contributions as they are able. This in no sense puts them under obligation, but it does help the Society to plan its activity.
HOUSEHOLDER: I can appreciate how that would help. How much money would be right to send?
WITNESS: Any amount is appreciated. It is not how big the contribution, but the motive behind it that counts. If you send fifty cents or fifty dollars, it all can be used. The spirit in which you give and the thought behind the gift are the important factors. At 2 Corinthians 9:7 the apostle Paul tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver.”
HOUSEHOLDER: And don’t we all? No doubt, when you give with a right motive there is happiness in giving.
WITNESS: Yes, Jesus said there would be. At Acts 20:35 we read that he said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”
HOW CONTRIBUTIONS ARE USED
HOUSEHOLDER: Tell me, do the contributions in one land go to support the preaching work in other lands?
WITNESS: To some extent, yes, but the Witnesses in each land try to contribute for the support of the work in their own land. It is only when the congregations are too poor to support themselves or the branch office that financial help is given. But there is a warm, family spirit about us, because we are all working together to accomplish the same work. So when earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters have caused hardship to our brothers, we are more than glad to come to their aid with material goods, our personal assistance and other things that are needed.
HOUSEHOLDER: That’s wonderful. But another question: What all is financed with the money that is sent to the Society?
WITNESS: At some of the Watch Tower Society’s 85 branch offices it operates printing plants. It also provides accommodations for those who work in these printing plants, since they all contribute their time and effort. By these workers’ giving of their time freely, it is possible for the Society to distribute to the public Bibles and Bible-study aids at a very small cost. For example, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, that is, a complete Bible, is available for only $1.
HOUSEHOLDER: That is amazing!
WITNESS: In addition to this, the Society has 6,377 special pioneers, including the missionaries, ministers who are sent into isolated territory to start new congregations, working in 153 different lands of the earth. Last year it was able to help these workers to the extent of $2,328,819.69, which averages a little over $30 each per month. The Society also has 1,870 circuit and district servants, traveling representatives of the Watch Tower Society who serve some 21,557 congregations. These, too, are helped in a modest way. Also, recently 104 ministers were brought in from all parts of the earth for intensive training at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, expenses paid. And yearly millions of pieces of literature, such as handbills and tracts, are distributed absolutely free of cost to those accepting.
HOUSEHOLDER: However, for the larger books and magazines, some money is contributed.
WITNESS: That’s true, and the money donations received at the time that the Society’s printed publications are placed with the people are applied toward printing and distributing more Bible-study helps; but such money donations fall far, far short of sufficiency to carry on the Kingdom preaching work on a worldwide scale. Money gifts, in addition to the gifts for the literature, are financing the preaching work in many lands. Do you have any idea as to the amount of activity carried on by Jehovah’s witnesses?
HOUSEHOLDER: No, I don’t. But I can imagine it’s enormous.
WITNESS: Last year 965,169 Witnesses contributed 132,695,540 hours of their time freely in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. They made 45,004,266 return visits on interested persons and each week conducted 622,665 home Bible studies—this, too, is represented in that time.
HOUSEHOLDER: That’s indeed a fine record.
WITNESS: It truly is. The Witnesses, by using their resources to further such work, are, as Jesus showed in his illustration recorded at Luke 16:1-9, making friends with Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. By their diligently applying themselves in every way they hope to be pleasing to God and gain his favor and life everlasting in the new world. Those who appreciate these facts are more than happy to contribute toward the advancement of this most urgent and helpful work in the earth.