What You Need to Know about Giving in the U.S.A.

What You Need to Know about Giving in the U.S.A.
I know, I know – the minute you heard the report on NPR you wanted more info – just what is up with giving in the U.S.A.?  Hey!  That sounds like a pre-twerking Miley Cyrus song.  Party on!  Let’s get Miley back to her good old days, I miss her.  But, I digress.  Some very serious, serious I tell you, numbers came out in the just-released “Giving U.S.A. 2014” report.
Giving U.S.A. has been around forever.  At least it seems that way since this is its 59th report.  And, they are associated with the Indiana University Lily Family School of Philanthropy.  That means they have a great track record of deciphering trends in philanthropic giving and... they are really, really smart.

In this year’s report there’s good news and there’s bad news for us church types.  Which do you want first?  OK, we’ll go with the good news:
  • Overall giving is up.  Charitable giving increased by 4.4% to $335.17 billion in 2013.
  • Individual giving is up by 4.2%
  • Bequest giving is up by 8.7%
Some other statistics of note:
  • 72% of all giving is done by individuals
  • 15% comes from foundations
  • 8% from the previously mentioned bequests
  • 5% from corporations
So here’s the bad news:  While religion remains the largest group to get contributions at 31% (no other category even comes close), giving to this group declined again this year by 1.6%.  According to the Giving USA 2014 highlights, “Giving to religion continues to slow; this is the result of declining religious affiliation and attendance and increased giving to religious-oriented charitable organizations categorized within the other subsectors.”  This means that donations are being diverted from the local church and going to organizations like World Vision, Young Life, or Mercy Corps.
But as people of the Good News, do not lose heart!  As you do the things you need to do – telling your church’s story, thanking people, preaching and talking about giving – these will be the things that inspire people to be generous.  Keep remembering that giving is UP.  Non-profit organizations are getting better at telling their story, thanking people, and asking without embarrassment…and you should too.
That reminds me of a saying from my youth that has little to do with the aforementioned report.  With apologies to my childhood pastor, Rev. G. Russell Shaw (I never did find out what that “G” stood for), Sunday never seemed complete without hearing Casey Kasem say, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”  That’s pretty good advice for us all.  Thanks, Casey.  RIP.
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 over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  She is encouraged that more people are being generous with their money.  Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
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.