Your turn: what would you do with One MILLION Dollars?

What is so resonant (and funny) about a million dollars?

I used to open many of my presentations on non-profit fund-raising with a riff on the old Steve Martin Saturday Night Live monologue about how you could make a million dollars, and never pay taxes:  “First, get a million dollars…”


And that was before Dr. Evil made it one of the funniest ransom demands in movie history (with accompanying gesture).

dr evil

A million dollars isn’t what it used to be, as Dr. Evil learned, but it’s still enough money to make a transformational difference in most of our lives; and, probably, in the budgets or outlooks of most non-profit organizations.

For today’s blog, I’d like to invite you to do a little exercise and maybe share your results in the comments section.

What would you do with a million dollars?    If you won the lottery (with a scratch-off ticket that someone gave you as a gift, of course); or if a long-lost uncle left you an unexpected sum in his will?

Last night I did this exercise with my family, including my young adult daughters who were home for the holidays.  Asking this question of different generations adds some interesting and illuminating perspective to the value and purpose of money.

So before I share my results and start to tie it back into the purpose of this blog, I’d love to hear from you – in as much or as little detail as you want – what would YOU do with One MILLION Dollars?

About J. Ronald Newlin

Non-profit consultant, museum developer, historian, Episcopalian, blues/punk bassist
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7 Responses to Your turn: what would you do with One MILLION Dollars?

  1. To clarify: You are asking what WOULD I do, not what SHOULD I do, correct? 🙂
    What I would likely do is pay off my kid’s college loans, my own debt, and then take a trip or two. I would give to a faith based organization that had in hand a clear plan for sharing Christ’s love in ways that would make a difference in the Kingdom as it is here and now. (Hmmm) And I would invest some of it too.
    Ok, maybe I would start with asking someone with “money smarts” for some guidance. They would have to have faith and money smarts.
    What should I do? Teach folks to fish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m right with you, Julie; especially the “paying off the kids’ student loans” part. Of course you know where I’m going with this, so you might as well get a head start: What would your CHURCH do with a million dollar gift?


      • This is a sehr gut exercise for me, considering that we are about to sell property to develop affordable housing for families at risk of homelessness. The income will likely be somewhere between 1 and 2 million. Some of what I am torn between is the very real and present need to offer this mission oriented but income strapped congregation a bit of financial breathing space. We have grown as disciples and in numbers over the past several years. Many of our new members, though, are poor. Some are homeless. (Try mailing THEM a newsletter). But those folks give. Without fail. Widow’s mite, indeed. The faithful generation of givers is dying away and not remembering their congregation in their estate planning. Yes, we need to address that too.
        So, I’m pondering….is investing a portion of that 1 million a faithful response?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob Kizer says:

    Set aside enough for our grandchildren’s education, can’t think of a better ROI than a college degree; the rest in three equal parts to: 1) my church to invest in biblical financial literacy education, 2) a non-profit I am partial to that ensures those without financial means ,but with academic promise, can access a college education, and 3) travel the world with my beautiful wife.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie, maybe WordPress won’t let me reply to a reply to a reply to a reply. At any rate, the short answer is YES! I think that using a portion of the proceeds to create breathing space or even a sustainability plan for your worshiping community is a faithful response. My main motivation for launching this blog was to discuss the idea that that’s not the ONLY thing you should do with it. It sounds to me like you’re exploring the kind of uses for a one-time influx of capital that I think we all need the courage to consider. I hope that when the conversation on this blog catches up, you’ll share some more of your plans!


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