July 2021 Community Letter

Dear Friends of Simple Charity,

Greetings from Durham! I hope that you are enjoying in-person social events now that the world is reopening. I’m writing to give you an update on Simple Charity’s programs and to ask for your prayers. Here in North Carolina, we are grateful to be able to host 11 college interns for the summer without masks or safety concerns. The Lord has been moving in this community. I can’t wait to share more. In this letter, I’ll share updates on the following:

  • New Three-Year Strategic Plan
  • Second annual summer internship
  • Thoughts on thought leadership

To our Core Supporters, thank you so much for your continued generosity. Your gifts empower our ministry! To those who are not yet Core Supporters, you can learn more here. Read on for updates!

2022-24 Strategic Plan

Our Board of Directors and staff on May 30th, 2021

We are grateful for a Board of Directors who are passionate about our mission of helping Christians practice solidarity with the poor. Our Board had a retreat in Durham at the end of May and was able to approve our next Three-Year Strategic Plan.

Our Strategic Plan will be our blueprint for action from 2022 to 2024 as we continue to strategically expand our Kingdom impact. Here are Simple Charity’s top objectives during this three-year period.

Top strategic objectives:

  • Develop compelling thought leadership
  • Create transformational communities of practice
  • Enhance charity evaluation research

Top supporting objectives:

  • Achieve financial sustainability
  • Grow Board by adding stakeholders and solidarity practitioners
  • Recruit and hire mission-aligned talent

Be on the lookout for when we publish our three-year strategic plan publicly. We appreciate your prayers as we embark on the task of achieving these objectives.

2021 Summer Internship

Our second annual summer internship program is in full swing! We have 11 student interns from eight different colleges working 40 hours a week to advance our mission. Our goal is for every student to grow spiritually, develop professionally and make friends over the course of the summer. We can’t wait to see how God continues to move in this community of practice!

One of the questions I get all the time is “Where do you find these college students?” Well, I asked some of our interns how they heard about Simple Charity, and here is what they said!

Joy Han: “A sticker. I love collecting stickers and when I saw that there was a giveaway I entered and started looking through their Instagram. It eventually led me to their website where I learned more about Simple Charity and how to become an intern. “

Jesse Kinyua: “I heard about Simple Charity through a friend at school whom Amanda, the Director of Students, had reached out to about starting a college chapter on campus.”

Betty Alfaro: “I was in a Simple Charity college chapter and wanted to learn more about how the organization works and raises money.”

Andrew Forrester: “I heard about the Simple Charity internship through a friend [Chris K.] and thought it sounded like a great opportunity!”

The first two weeks of our summer internship are devoted to growing together spiritually, relationally and professionally. We are grateful to be able to share that in an anonymous survey, 100% of this year’s interns said that the onboarding weeks helped them grow in these three dimensions AND that they would recommend the program to a friend based on their experience so far! See below for the data.

For a deeper look at our summer internship’s impact, see Kathia Smith’s testimonial below. Kathia is a student at the University of the Bahamas who flew to Durham for the summer from Nassau. She has been a wonderful addition to our team and a friend of many in the group. She brings energy, theological insights and a can-do attitude to her project teams.

Kathia Smith

“I have learned much in my short time here about solidarity, holistic poverty, and how Jesus biblically displayed caring for the poor. I appreciate that the focus of the internship is spiritual growth. The community among the interns and Simple Charity’s staff is a loving and nurturing environment fostering individual growth and team-building skills.”

Our interns are each organized into 2-3 project teams each. These teams are doing everything from writing code for our website to researching the history of solidarity with the poor within Christian thought to “getting proximate” to those who are experiencing poverty in Durham, NC. All of these projects serve our mission of helping Christians practice solidarity with the poor, a virtue that we define as learning from, standing with & sacrificing for. From our survey on the internship thus far, the favorite session has been the Journey of Generosity retreat that we did in Asheville, NC.

Thoughts on Thought Leadership

One of the Strategic Objectives in our new Strategic Plan that I am most excited about is to “develop compelling thought leadership.” We have multiple project teams this summer working on Simple Charity’s thought leadership including:

  • The Systems, Simplified team which is mapping social systems necessary for human flourishing and creating content on biblical justice
  • The Virtue, Poverty & Jesus team which is producing an ecumenical anthology of Christian thought on solidarity with the poor
  • The Durham Project which is pursuing an understanding of what biblical justice looks like within the social systems of Durham, NC

As this work unfolds, I believe that Simple Charity has the potential to be a voice in the public conversation on Christian poverty alleviation. In light of this possibility, I find myself asking if it’s possible to intentionally bring our ideas to the worldwithout capitulating to a culture of celebrity Christianity. Too often, when we think about thought leadership, we immediately imagine charismatic individuals who build public brands to gain widespread influence.

At church this past Sunday, the Lord showed me that there is another way. I attend The Summit Church in Durham, NC, a church that some believe centers around the engaging preaching of Pastor JD Greear. This past Sunday, the preacher on the highest stage of this megachurch was Dr. Bryan Loritts. The Summit Church actually has a team of teaching pastors who all get multiple opportunities to preach every year. They share the stage. This intentionality takes (some of) the pressure off of JD Greear and is a glimpse into one approach to subvert celebrity Christian culture.

I believe that Christian organizations need to cultivate an imagination for decentralized thought leadership. Organizations that I’ve seen do this well are Generous Giving and Praxis, both of which have a set of ideas that they empower a large number of people to bring to the world as ambassadors. Simple Charity is currently in a stage of clarifying our thinking, but soon we will be in the stage of sharing our thinking with others. As we embark on this exciting journey, will you please pray for us that God would give us an imagination for how to redemptively pursue thought leadership without making any one person on our team the hero of the story? This is such a big temptation. Jesus is the hero of Simple Charity’s story, and we want to keep it that way for the long haul.

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If you are not a Core Supporter (or if you don’t know what that means!) I would love to find 45 minutes to connect on the mission and vision of Simple Charity and to share more about how you can join our community of practice. You can use this link to find a time that is convenient for you in my calendar. I would love to connect!

We believe that solidarity with the poor is global, essential & part of the abundant life. God has called us to bring the message and practice of solidarity with the poor to more and more Christians throughout this country. Thank you for being a part of our story!

With gratitude,

Brian Grasso
Founder & CEO | Simple Charity
770-871-8540 | brian@simplecharity.org

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work.”
2nd Corinthians 9:8

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