Do you tell others when you give to charity?

Beggars receiving alms at the door of a house, by Rembrandt 1648

Beggars receiving alms at the door of a house, by Rembrandt 1648

In amongst the daily diet of violence, politics, terrorism and all the other stories in the news media, there is the occasional bit of good news. One bit of good news that might appear from time to time is when a rich individual or organisation makes a big donation to a charity, or other good cause.

The giver gains kudos and the charity gets valuable publicity, which in turn can attract additional donations from other sources. Charity begets charity you might say. The publicity generated by the big donation attracts other smaller givers.

Matthew 6:1-4 Says it is not a good idea to self publicise when you give to charity. I don’t think it’s necessary to do it in secret, but perhaps with some discretion. For the majority of us it is probably good advice, but charities rely on publicity as a means of generating income. Publicity for donations given by public figures or companies is part of the lifeblood of the charities’. Even smaller donations seen by friends or families of those with average to low income can highlight a cause amongst peers, and lead to more, albeit smaller, donations.

No one denies that the charities themselves do good work (at least mostly though some are fraudulent or support questionable causes), but how can we square not publicising what we give, which can help charities collect more money for their work, with what The Bible tells us about giving in secret?

I have no answer, I just raise the paradox for consideration.


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