Joyful Giving: Stories of Sharing Hope and Love

Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back.

Ecclesiastes 11:1
Co-founders, Eileen and Keith Denner, are no strangers to volunteer mission work. The profound generosity they encountered on their journeys deeply affected their lives. In 2014, the Denners realized they were being called to create opportunities for Biblical giving that inspires people in their community to shift from transactional giving to transformational giving of their time, talents, skills and other resources. The Denners, along with other leaders from the community, including Johnne Syverson, Bill Gustoff, Mike Canney and Julie Donaghy developed the Iowa Christian Generosity Council. Today, a passionate group of volunteer leaders are inspiring, educating and motivating generosity in a way many have never considered before.
Mission Work...
It’s something that my husband, Keith, and I have been called to for decades and now can’t imagine a life without it. After years of trips to Nigeria, Haiti, South Africa and Gallup, New Mexico we became motivated to do something more. The amazing generosity of the people we became friends with on these journeys deeply affected our lives. We came back asking ourselves how we could use our God-given gifts to walk with people in our own community.

It’s not that we weren’t giving to our community. Like many others, we gave regularly to our church, but we were “transactional” givers. We felt called by God to stretch and give here in our community with our time, skills, AND our resources of money and possessions.

Letter Continued...

Along our path, in search of new ways to give, we were influenced by stories of other givers who were answering God’s call and doing transformational acts of generosity. We too wanted to become “transformational” in our giving. After all, the Bible mentions love 714 times; yet giving our possessions is mentioned over 2,000 times!

About the same time, we developed a relationship with the National Christian Foundation staff and told them our story. They introduced us to the concept of a generosity movement for Christ. With their guidance, we planned a lunch for 12 of our friends and business peers where we shared our hearts for Christ and generosity. Keith and I shared that there was no fundraising at our lunch, nor would there be at any of our events.

We asked this first group of friends if they would join us as companions on this quest to answer God’s call. Very soon, a founding volunteer leadership team was born. To this day, our leadership team is still led by volunteer leaders who are passionate about Jesus Christ. We meet regularly for lunch, visioning, planning and fellowship.

Early on, we created our mission to inspire, educate and motivate others in Kingdom-based giving. We planned events, tried various speakers, and held what we called generosity dinners where no direct fundraising took place. We remain true to this and do not fundraise. Instead, we offer tools and inspiration to ICGC members in a neutral environment. We found this was good ground for the gospel of generosity.

As we grew, we established a goal to walk alongside and encourage Christ-centered nonprofit ministries and held a training event to see who would attend. What began as only five organizations quickly became 35! We soon realized there was a great connection between these nonprofits and a common bond of serving for the Lord - and not hiding that. The nonprofit leaders shared they would like to continue this training and fellowship on a regular basis. They loved the support and fellowship we were providing in an atmosphere of NO competition. Not here. Once all of the needs of God's Kingdom are met, then competition can happen.

Since that time, we have had quarterly luncheons for all members and an annual Ignite Your Legacy event. In 2017, growth for serving our community’s nonprofits was vast enough that the leadership team reached out to engage the services of Scott Brunscheen to serve as Executive Director to support our efforts. I also stepped aside at that time as our leadership chair to tend to my mother who was very ill. Johnne Syverson became our new chairperson and currently remains at the helm.

While our mission and leadership has always embraced putting Christ first in everything we do, the most important thing we did was to add the word Christian to our name. What started as the Iowa Generosity Council in 2014 became the Iowa Christian Generosity Council in 2017.

While I share with you the history of the ICGC journey, we continue to look to the future. In fact, during 2020-2021, and the Covid-19 pandemic, our nonprofit membership doubled in size and grew from 12 to 24 ministries. We also launched a Zoom video conference component. Our 2021 Ignite Your Legacy event had a record attendance and we look forward to growing this event every year.

Transformational giving is on the rise in our community as people find new and different ways to give of their time, talents and resources. We are so grateful that we listened to God’s calling on our hearts all those years ago and are blessed by the way He has equipped us to champion ministries serving on the frontlines. We can’t wait to see what else God has in store as we cast our bread upon the water!

We’d love to have you join us!

Eileen Denner
Co-Founder, Iowa Christian Generosity Council
Founding members: 
Eilleen and Keith Denner, Johnne Syverson, Bill Gustoff, Mike Canney and Julie Donaghy

Virtual Zoom Lunch

Dan Herod

Wednesday, May 12 
(12:00 - 1:00 PM)
Overcoming It All
Dan Herod is a husband, father, friend, communicator and author. He and his family are no strangers to adversity. After enduring two consecutive miscarriages, they encountered an unimaginable tragedy when their 13-month-old daughter passed away from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Since that fateful day, Dan and his family have found the key to living an incredibly abundant life in the midst of overwhelmingly heartbreaking circumstances.

Dan lives to encourage everyone to live the best life possible. For over 15 years he has been speaking to groups of all ages and sizes. Dan tells humorous stories and shares compelling experiences in each and every talk he gives. It is his joy to share what he has discovered in the most difficult season of his life.

Since 2010, Dan has served as the Youth Alive Director for Wisconsin and Northern Michigan. Youth Alive is an organization committed to helping students live the best life possible. He loves to spend time with his family and finds immense joy serving as a volunteer fire department in his community. Dan and his family reside in central Wisconsin where the summers are ever so beautifully breathtaking, and the winters are so cold they take your breath away.

Lake Hallie

Dallas Steward

Thursday, May 13 
(11:45 - 1:00 PM)
Assistant Coach at Michigan Tech
Dallas Steward enters his fourth season as an assistant coach at Michigan Tech in 2020-21. During his first season, Steward and the Huskies went to the NCAA Tournament after winning the WCHA Championship Game. Tech finished 22-17-5 overall and was ranked No. 16 in the final USCHO poll. Four players have signed NHL contracts in his first two seasons at Michigan Tech.

Steward was an Associate Head Coach with the Chicago Steel of the USHL for two seasons from 2015-17. The 2016-17 team went 38-17-2 in the regular season, defeated Youngstown and Dubuque in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and won the USHL Championship with an overtime win over Sioux City in Game 5 of the Clark Cup.

Steward started his coaching career with the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) as an assistant coach and scouting director from 2011-15. He helped lead the team to three consecutive playoff berths and a Clark Cup title in 2014-15.

Steward played 138 games over four years at the University of Alaska Anchorage from 2000-04. He scored 27 goals and added 32 assists as a forward, was an assistant captain as a senior, and a three-time WCHA All-Academic selection. Steward went on to play six years of professional hockey in both the CHL and ECHL from 2004-10.

Prior to college, Steward played three seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers, winning the Clark Cup in 2000. He amassed a total of 74 points over three seasons with the Gamblers, including 18 goals and 27 assists in their championship season.
The Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin native has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public communication from UAA. He and his wife Janet have two daughters, Jade and Blake.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25
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