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Paying It Forward: How a Generous Lifestyle Can Keep on Giving

The following article is an abridged transcript of a video interview created by Faith Driven Investor. The video features Dana Wichterman and her husband, Bill. Dana had received an unexpected inheritance from her father. Though Dana and Bill had lived below their financial means for years, Dana wondered if their hearts were in the right place when it came to money. So she and Bill decided to use this opportunity to wake up and pursue a joyfully generous lifestyle. You can watch the interview here:

© Dmytro Aksonov from Getty Images via

"About 12 years ago, I (Dana) got an inheritance through the sale of some land from my father that I had not expected. It was quite large. We already had a growing pot of resources because of being committed to living below our means. I just thought that's a responsible way to live.

We were surprised by wealth, and the question then became, how do we use this wealth to honor God? That's not a simple question. There's no specific road map. (Better Capitalism is of the view that spiritually, physically, and economically, the lack of a specific road map is intentional because the answer to the question is so individual. It all depends on who we are. There are, however, clear signposts along each road.)

We've had many open and frank conversations with other people who see all of our wealth on a page. We had a kingdom adviser who walked us through our previous investments and helped us work out investments that we were comfortable with.

It's also been very important to visit places; for example, a slum where there are entrepreneurs whose lives are being changed by comparatively little money, services, or equipment. Helping micro-entrepreneurs to have more sustainable wealth and the dignity they have from that. 

In a donor relationship, there is an imbalance that makes everyone feel awkward. Whereas, in an investor relationship, there is a more level playing field - much more of a partnership. Partners in making something beautiful, making something happen. 

We see now that core to our calling are two things. One is using our own wealth to honor God, but the other is inviting other people to use their wealth to honor God. "If it was just about us, nobody's going to remember us in a generation; but if we can invite other people into this space to find what it means to be faithful, joyful, and obedient, we can change the world."

In the interview, Dana describes a generous and joyful lifestyle that encourages the people whom one helps to continue that generosity. The idea of investing in people's businesses so that they in turn can invest in others is a unique version of paying it forward, and one that those of us who have been blessed with abundance need to consider.

If you look around your community, you will find this kind of investment opportunity. If you don't, look at the broader community. Opportunities are everywhere. There may be a young entrepreneur who is just getting started, or an ongoing business that could use new capital to grow. There may be someone with a stand at the local farmer's market or an antique mall booth who has great ideas but no one to fund them. A small investment can make all the difference in these situations.

Of course, there are always overseas opportunities with nonprofits that specialize in assisting startups with microloans. For example, these three highly-rated organizations focus on that need:

Beyond helping these business owners to succeed financially, another opportunity for joyful giving lies in the chance to mentor and influence these recipients to do the same, or in supporting non-profits that follow this model. By encouraging the receivers to pay the gift forward, the original benefactors can have a positive influence far beyond that of their own lifetime or giving ability.

What opportunities of this kind are within your sphere of influence? Economic mutuality, after all, must be a long-term proposition for it to make the kind of difference that is the goal of Better Capitalism. If you are able (and very likely you are), I encourage you to start looking for ways to joyfully invest in and mentor other people and their economic development. If you have already done so, please share your story with us at We'd love to hear how you are applying your ethics of enough and of mutuality to help make this a better world!

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"This book merits close, sustained attention as a compelling move beyond both careless thinking and easy ideology."—Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Better Capitalism is a sincere search for a better world."—Cato Institute



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