Three Lessons on Giving from the Bistrian Family

1. Give First.

“We started a real estate fund as Romania was going through a boom; we were buying and selling property,” Emanuel explains. “Now we’ve moved into developing entire communities—a community feel where everything is within walking distance.” When the Bistrians’ firm sells a house, the first part goes to God; they give away the first 4000€ of each home sale. “We need to change the culture in Romania from receiving to giving. God gave first, so we should give first.” To remind themselves of this principle, the Bistrians have named their NGO “Give First.”

2. Mature Toward Strategic Giving. 

Emanuel describes their giving journey this way: “In the past, it was all about ‘we have this much available and let’s get rid of it. We have trusted partners, so 2000€ to this and 3000€ to that. That was our structure—or our lack of structure!”

Bianca agrees: “We want God to give us direction. We pray for areas to give to. We’re not just trying to do it using our human knowledge.” Emanuel says, “That led us to decide to give to three main areas.” Those are:

  • promoting Christianity (church planting, evangelism)
  • humanitarian relief (Christian ministries eradicating poverty or supporting the elderly)
  • education (training leaders, improving ministries inspiring other Romanian givers).

3. Giving Expertise. 

As the Bistrians engage with ministries in Romania, they’ve spotted a need for coaching and consulting. “Many ministries have great hearts, but not a lot of structure,” says Emanuel. “In Romania, some things are done under the table. When it comes to keeping the books intact, it’s not good,” he says. “People give money for one thing and it’s used for something else. Not something bad, but just not what the giver wanted.”

“So we can really help,” says Bianca. “We’re working to offer coaching and business consulting to help ministries find their unique role, and to create the transparency that a lot of them are lacking. We want to create sustainability and not dependency. We aren’t trying to control them, but at the same time we do have to evaluate which ones value structure and transparency like we do.”

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