I've done the reading for you!
Today marks 134 days of the pandemic abyss. But who’s counting?
Well shoot. That’s no way to start an “inspiring” post. Let’s try again. Hey! I made the bed this morning. OK, one more try. Last week, my vacuum cleaner went kaput. The shop asked that I give it a thorough COVID cleaning before I brought it in. And guess what? It’s working like a charm. It’s truly a virus-motivated miracle. When this thing is all over, I see a new vocation in my future: vacuum cleaning. Whew, we’re back on track.
And…one more thing. To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, be sure to watch the truly inspiring “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” on Netflix. You’ll meet all the major players and see the struggle these brave brothers and sisters endured in this little-known civil rights movement.
Not quite as inspiring is this year’s Giving USA report.
Remember, these statistics were gathered by Giving USA during 2019 (in a land far, far away…). Here are the highlights:
Giving to religious organizations remained relatively flat with a 0.5% increase in inflation-adjusted dollars. While faith-based causes and organizations still receive the largest part of the pie at 29%, for the second year in a row, giving to religious organizations fell below 30%.
Giving increased in the categories of Education; Human Services; Arts, Culture, and Humanities; Public-Society Benefit; and Environment or Animals.
Here’s Giving USA’s analysis on why giving to religious organizations remains flat:
“As we stated at this time last year, a simplistic view would be that donor enthusiasm is waning in this sector. We also noted the need for this subsector to innovate and invest in donor experience to the same level as other subsectors...This still holds true” (emphasis added). Giving USA also asserts that people aren’t less generous but instead are giving to a wider variety of causes.
How can you “innovate and invest” in the donor experience? It’s the same old thing, tried and true:
- Thank the people who give to you. Show gratitude by saying “thank you” over Zoom, through written notes, and on Facebook.
- Tell your congregation how they are investing in God’s work and show them examples. During worship share stories of how your people are changing the world. Send a letter. Highlight a story in your newsletter.
- Remind your people that giving is a spiritual discipline. God doesn’t need our gifts but as disciples we are called to learn about and practice the art of generosity.
One more thing: Legacy Gifts.
The Giving USA report indicates that bequest gifts fell slightly from the previous year. Here’s another analysis from them:
“With an aging population, especially when combined with the increasing concentration of wealth, it would be fair to expect that the ‘market share’ of bequests will only grow. Donor loyalty matters and may ultimately lead to continued growth…” (emphasis added).
Legacy gifts are low-hanging fruit. When was the last time you encouraged people in your congregation to leave a gift to the church in their will? Need some ideas on how to do that?
Read “Bequests and Wills: Be Prepared” and “Your Legacy: Be Sure It’s Written Down.”
So now you know. The pandemic and current civil rights movement (and an upcoming Presidential election) have thrown just about everything into disarray. But the basics remain:
- thank your congregation for their generosity,
- tell them how their gifts are making a difference,
- remind them that by giving, they are practicing a wonderful spiritual discipline, and
- ask for a legacy gift.
Oh, and if your vacuum cleaner happens to break down, just give me a call. ‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me.