Tag Archive: relational tithe

A community of friends who pool their money to meet the needs of people they know.

That is what Common Change is all about. And that is the non-profit that my wife, tbV, and i work with and have been for the last year and a half.

Almost every time we explain the concept to people and they get it, it excites them and they want to know more.

But many people in that boat feel like they are the only one of their friend group who might be interested in that idea.



One of the ways we have seen people really grab on to the idea of how Common Change works is through hosting what we call, ‘Generosity Dinners’.

# Invite some friends round for a meal that you are hosting

# each guest brings a donation to add to the group ‘pot’

# after the meal, each person has the chance to share a need of someone they know

# after a lengthy discussion and whittling down process, a decision is made

# the whole of the group ‘pot’ goes towards the need that was decided upon

# a follow-up email a few weeks later shares some feedback on how the gift went down.

Common Change presently covers groups in the United States and we are working with people in the UK, Costa Rica, Canada and South Africa to see what it will take in those countries to run groups there. But a Generosity Dinner can happen in any country in the world. It really just takes an invitation to some friends, the hosting of a meal and then an evening of sharing some money and meeting needs of people you love.

It is that easy. What is holding you back? This could be the start of a transformational season of you and your friends starting to think a little bit differently about the way you interact with your money and resources.

Contact us now at support@commonchange.com to find out more about how you can throw your first Generosity Dinner or click here for more information.


[Money certainly seems to be a topic we rarely speak much about – for a range of other Taboo Topics different people have shared their stories on, click here]



a friend of mine is in serious need of dental surgery… another friend who has a really tight budget has a car that is in serious need of tyre replacement before something goes horribly wrong… someone else i know has their house taken down by the latest hurricane to hit the states and are just needing a bit of a boost to pay a deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment for them and their child… a couple who are having quite a tough time due to the regular circumstances of life could really just use a bit of a weekend break away to be able to focus on their marriage…

as someone who is operating on a fairly tight budget, what do i say to these people? what can i do?

“I’ll pray for you.”

Not that praying for someone is wrong or bad, but if it is all i am able to do, then it does feel somewhat inadequate.

Especially if i can do much more. And the book of James in the Bible seems to suggest that we should:

15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. [James2]

Enter Common Change… the non-profit tbV and i work for… and the group we have been a part of for about a year and a half.

The needs mentioned at the start of this post are all ones that have been met by the group we are part of. Although not necessarily all personal friends of ours, we got to play some part in empowering their friends to walk alongside them as some or all of their need was met.

Here’s how it works:

# you register to Common Change and then either create a group [with a bunch of mates, work colleagues, small group at church, indoor hockey teammates] or join an existing group and start contributing usually a monthly amount to the group common pool.

# when someone in the group knows someone [one degree of separation] who has a need they present the need to the group on behalf of their friend.

# members of the group then respond by giving creative suggestions or asking deeper questions to try and figure out the best way to get involved in meeting the need [so drawing on the wisdom of the group]

# when the group has weighed in, a gift is sent to the person in need and the person who shared the need with the group is encouraged to walk the journey with their friend

it is that easy… and it can start small [ten people each giving 10 dollars suddenly have 100 dollars to be able to put towards a need] or be really huge [some people give fixed amounts, others give a percentage of their salary]

the aim is to eradicate economic isolation – instead of simply throwing money at needs or at organisations we are committing to get personally involved in relationships we already have where need exists and hopefully be part of making a long-term difference in someone’s life.

sound doable? interested in learning more or getting involved? email me at brett@commonchange.com and we can get this ball rolling…

Also, if you like the idea it would be great if you could share this link via your social networking vibes… thank you.


Be the change you want to see...

many of you may know that the beautiful Val [tbV] and i flew over to Americaland just over a month ago to start working in Oakland, California with a non-profit called Common Change [formerly known in parts as Relational Tithe] and i wanted to just share a little about that because we are hoping that the grand launch is going to be in a few weeks time, so it is a good space for you to start thinking and engaging with people and wrestling and plotting about this and potentially getting involved…

tbV and i have been part of Relational tithe for coming close to a year now and have seen people helped with medical funds and procedures, a few start up businesses given impetus, prayer and encouragement given to the sick and dying and those journeying with them, support to friends who were pushed out of their job and had to leave the country, and a woman who lost her house in Hurricane Sandy among other things. so when we were invited to be a part of seeing this simple strategy and tool that had worked for a group of about 50 people experimenting for the last 6 to 8 years we didn’t need much convincing – we have seen it in action.

the idea is simple – if you have a group of people [which can be from as few as 3 people although 6 to 8 households seems to be the sweet spot] ready to embark, you sign up [as soon as the site goes live, which as i said is looking like being really soon] and make a commitment to give ten percent of your earnings into a common pool on a regular basis. at any point, anyone in the group is able to share a need for anyone that they are in one degree of separation from [must be someone they know and are in some level of relationship with, so not a friend of a friend’s gardener’s dog for example]. the group discusses the need and shares their wisdom on how best to meet the need [sometimes money, sometimes networking, sometimes alternative ideas] and then when a certain amount of support has been given the need is met and the person who shared the need gets to walk alongside the person they shared the need for and meet the need through relationship.

sounds very simple but quite exciting, right? think about it, ask questions if you have, why not bring it up at a dinner table or meeting this week and see what other peoples thoughts and ideas are… and then head to CommonChange.com and watch the short intro video and if this feels like something you would like to know more about, sign up to receive our latest news or keep an eye here so you can see when we launch…

Common Change is coming soon… are you?

for a sneak peak at the site, with the intro video and a chance to reserve your spot for when it opens, click here…

hope for south africa

#1. you have a reason to go somewhere else – i understand for some people if they are living in fear and feel like for family and children’s sake that they need to be somewhere else then sure, maybe you need to do that. Val and i went to the Simple Way because we felt God was leading us there and we are now part of Relational Tithe/Common Change as we feel like it is a God thing to be doing – but apart from that, if it was solely up to me i would choose to be in South Africa and even now, the stuff we are involved in i know will benefit South Africa/South Africans [at first via internet/ideas/stories but hopefully directly at some stage]

#2. if you’re a whiner. i get SO tired of hearing people whine and moan about South Africa. If that’s you and it is the overwhelming sense of your current attitude or state of being, then maybe you need to leave and go somewhere else. Chances are you will find something to whine about there, but it may be that you can find a place where you won’t be helpless or paralysed because of all the negativity you see or experience.

Those are the reasons. For me, anyways, and i know other people may think differently and that’s fine, but i really believe that if you are not going somewhere else for a specific reason then stay in South Africa. But be part of the solution.

I really loved being back in South Africa for the last two and a half months even more than i thought i would. i was inspired by the churches i visited and the people there and hearing some of the initiatives that were being done. i was encouraged and inspired by meeting people like Marci and Nathalie from Common Good [NPO linked to Common Ground church in Cape Town] and by chatting to my friend Godfrey from TheatreSports and hearing about his involvement with Sea Point High School and the Darling Project as well as hearing what is happening with uThando leNkosi and iKhayalethemba and a whole bunch of other projects, initiatives, relationships and so on. all around me there are such tremendous signs of hope and so it bummed me out when everyone got so caught up in the Oscar Pistorius saga to the point of celebrity obsession when there is so much greatness happening to be able to put ones life into.

everyone doesn’t need to do everything. but everyone needs to do something. and if each person starts connecting to one person, or family, or a project or ministry, then suddenly the news starts to change. it really is possible and positive momentum breeds more of the same.

so if you are already part of doing something, invite someone else to hear about it, to come visit, to get involved. and if you’re not, then find a person or a place to get involved – something that connects with your gifts and skills or maybe just your heart and time…

but please stop the whining, or really, just go. this country needs to be filled with people who believe.


this is also my 800th blog post altho that is completely irrelevant but a nice round number nonetheless…

so if you are reading this, then by now you know that myself and tbV are heading to Oakland, California to work with Common Change, and you also probably have some idea of what our specific roles with CC look like, and so the last thing i want to comment on is the support aspect.

Val and i have different opinions on the raising support aspect of the work we are about to do altho neither of us are particular fans and if there was another way of doing this particular next part of our life journey, then we would have probably jumped at it. But there wasn’t and so it quickly became a reality that if we were going to do this it would require that and so we breathed deeply and went ahead with it.

How it is going to work is that Common Change is going to be covering our accommodation costs and so we had to take care of our flights [done, thankx to an uberly generous gift from a good friend] and our month to month expenses which we have estimated [food, transport etc] as roughly $1000 per month [or close to R9000]. So that is the monthly support we have been seeking from friends to cover the 18 months we will be working with Common Change starting in March. The one aspect of the support raising that we were both happy with is that it is for a set time – so we have asked people to get involved for 18 months and then it is done.

At the point of this going to [word] press [yes, i did that!] we are sitting at about 50% of what we need and the idea was that we would wait til we hit 60% before i book my flight and trust for the rest to come in after that. We did have a proviso that if the 60% doesn’t come in before the 20 March that Val would fly home and we’d start looking at a plan B as neither of us were particularly amped about being on different continents for too much longer.

So the money side of things is a practical need, but the support part that Val and i are both super excited about is the idea of people journeying with us on this mission. So we are building up a support base ranging from people who want to receive the monthly newsletter we will be putting out, to those who are committing to keep us in prayer for this time and then those who are committing financially to the journey. At the moment we have over 50 people who have stuck their hands up and said “We want to be part of this with you!” And that feels like a really good thing.

The idea behind Relational Tithe and Common change feels like a really great one and we have seen it work really well in a number of peoples lives and so the connectedness with people from back home in South Africa also means that there is opportunity for the idea to take root in different wants here and start affecting our country more directly. I have already had one person who has expressed interest in starting something like that or being part of a group here and we are excited about the potential of a group of people trying it out in the South African context [there is a Caribbean cluster that meets in Cuba and has been a very successful part of RT so we believe it can work!]

So there you have it – a deeper glimpse into the journey that Brett and Val are about to start [officially in two days time, Val from Oakland and me from here til i get there!] and if you would like to be a part of that journey in any of the three ways mentioned then please drop me an email at brettfish@hotmail.com and i can add you to the newsletter list.

so by now, anyone that is interested [and possibly some that aren’t] knows that tbV and i will be heading to Oakland, California just across from San Francisco [come visit!] in the short next while to be working with Relational Tithe/Common Change and you also have an idea of what that is all about and how it works… but a lot of people have been asking about the specifics of what each of us will be doing and while some of that still needs to be ironed out as we get there and get going, i can share a basic outline of the work ahead:

Relational Tithe has been going for 6 to 8 years and is comprised of small groups or ‘clusters’ of 12 to 15 people and then a larger cluster of the 80 or so people who make up RT. Any need that is presented which is for less than $500 is presented to your small cluster and any need larger than that goes to the wisdom of the larger group. Since RT has been in existence a lot of people have expressed interest but as it grew out of relationships, it was a lot harder to find an onramp to become part of the program. So part of what both Val and i will be doing is helping create space and oversee the creation of ten to fifteen new groups over the 18 months we are working with CC.

Giving through Relationship

Val will also be working on systems and policies and helping to bring clarity and ease of use to them so that the whole machine will work a lot more effectively and then she also has some work to do with project management such as a phone app that is being developed and some other projects.

My role will be kind of a discipleship vibe within the groups – helping people to use the system more effectively in terms of making asks and responding to other peoples asks and also finding ways for people and groups to connect more intentionally offline.

So, in effect we will be looking at taking something that has been working very well for a small group of people for a number of years and seeing how we can make it an effective tool for a wider group of people to equip people all across the world to connect their resources to people in need, through relationship.

[to find out how you can be an active part of this journey through receiving the newsletter or being involved in prayer or financial support, click here]


well i thought everyone who was interested had an idea of what we are doing next but having explained our next moves three times to people in the last few days i figured it wouldn’t hurt having another explanation up – for those of you who have heard this, you can skip this one…

from June 2011 to Dec 2012 the beautiful Val [tbV] and i were working and living with the Simple Way in Kensington, Philadelphia, Americaland as part of their residency program – living in the local community and working full-time for the non-profit. i was involved with Hospitality and email communications and Val dealt with special projects [food distribution, after-school program, scholarships for students etc] and emergency services [people arriving at the door about to be evicted from their home, people in need of drug counselling or legal aid etc]. our boss was a man named Darin Petersen, hence the term ‘bossman’.

we arrived back in South Africa 1 Jan for a time of refreshment and recovery and also connection with family and friends [and improv stage and hockey field and beach!] with the idea of staying for about a month and a half to two months and then moving on to Oakland, California [just across from San Francisco] where we will be working with Darin again, but with a different non-profit which has been called Relational Tithe and which is in the future going to be called Common Change. This is a collaborative giving program looking at trying to emulate the church of Acts 2 in terms of economics and really focus on connecting resources to those in need through the avenue of relationship.

‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ [Acts 2.42-47]

Val and i have been part of Relational Tithe as group members for eight to ten months now and have seen it have such a transformative and life-changing effect in many peoples lives and so when we were invited to be a part of it for the next 18 months it was something we seriously considered and then jumped at.

How it works is that if you join you become part of a group of 12 to 15 people who all tithe into the group general fund. Then at any point anyone in the group can advocate a need for someone who is in one degree of separation from themselves [so someone you know personally who has a need] and the group is invited to ask questions and try to collectively figure out the best way to meet the need well and then after some time the need is met [this might be with money or resources or through someone having a connection or other creative means]. What we really enjoy about RT is that the need is met through relationship – so we are not just throwing money at something but empowering someone within the group to walk alongside a friend of theirs and connect them with some resources as they do so.

So that is what we are going to be joining. tbV has left already as there is a Justice Conference that she is attending in Philly first and then she will be heading to Oakland where i will be looking to meet up with her later. One of the realities of the next journey for us, is that while CC will be providing accommodation for us, we have had to find money to get there and also for our month to month living expenses and so we have been inviting people to journey with us in different ways – following our journey and staying in contact, praying for us, contributing towards the roughly $1000 or R9000 we think we will be needing to live month to month for 18 months.

if you’d like to hear more or want to be connected in any way simply email me at brettfish@hotmail.com and we can chat or i can add you to our newsletter list.

[what Brett and Val are going to be doing within Relational Tithe/Common Change as they head to Oakland]

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