Giving U.S.A. 2013 Report: The Good News/Bad News
Every year since 1957 the non-profit research group Giving USA has been publishing reports about philanthropy in the United States.
In June, Giving USA 2013 was published – providing vast amounts of information about philanthropy that occurred in 2012 (then why isn’t it called Giving USA 2012? Probably for the same reason I can never figure out what century we’re in – 20th or 21st? It’s so confusing.).
It was mostly good news – except for one area that’s near and dear to our hearts.
First, the good news:
• Giving is up by 3.5% -- Americans gave an astounding $316.23 billion (yep, that’s billion with a “b”)
• Giving by individuals increased by 3.9%
• Giving by corporations increased by 12.2%
• Religion gets the biggest share - 32% - of contributions
Now, the bad news:
• In two of the last three years, Giving USA has recorded a decrease in giving to religion.
In an article for Fundraising magazine, Joe Boland spoke to Robert Evans, founder and managing director of EHL Consulting Group who analyzed the report. Evans states,
“‘…[O]ne of the reasons I believe there is a decrease in giving to religion is that the organizations that make up this category — churches, synagogues and mosques — are generally the least sophisticated in terms of fundraising techniques and expertise, and they're slow to change," he says. "So we don't see a lot of directors of development at houses of worship, although generally some of the midsize and bigger houses of worship have started hiring people with this expertise. This is a wake-up call for houses of worship.’” (emphasis added)
Those of us who love the church and know the power of what Christ can do in the world when His people do ministry together must pay attention to these findings. First and foremost – don’t put your head in the sand. Unless you do something, the decline in religious giving will continue.
• Read books and articles about fundraising in the non-profit world and think of ways it can apply to the church
• Don’t be afraid to talk about money (remember, giving is up)
• Write about generosity whenever you can
• Have a positive attitude about giving – you have a tremendous influence in your congregation (and remember, people are giving again – giving is up)
Above all…don’t be slow to change.
Since I am pretty confident that most of you don’t have development directors in your congregations, please know that as part of my role as a stewardship consultant with the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference, I am available to talk with you about issues around development and stewardship. You do not need to do this alone!
Let’s pray that the 2014 report will show that God’s people have renewed their confidence in the church’s ministry and are excited that their faithful giving is making a difference in the world.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.