Giving USA 2016: What You Need to Know

Giving USA 2016: What You Need to Know
Giving USA 2016
I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to hear – my daughter did graduate from high school a week ago Friday and my nephew, Nick, did get married last Saturday. What a two weeks it’s been. So much joy and happiness! Coming back to reality means I’ll just have to do more happy dances in public (and – hopefully – avoid getting arrested).
So here’s some good news that gets me dancin’: In 2015 total contributions in the United States came to $373.25 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”). That’s a 4.1% increase over 2014. Check out the Giving USA highlights right here.
Individual donations went up by 3.8%; foundations increased giving by 6.5%; bequests (i.e., wills and trusts – I’m looking at you Prince) went up by 2.1%; and corporations upped their game by 3.9%.
The majority of donations continue to go to religious institutions. To be precise, 32% of all giving goes to religious groups.
Thad Austin of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving provides a handy Giving to Religion: Highlights of the 2016 Giving USA Report. Here’s what you need to know from his summary:
Religious giving showed steady growth at 2.7%. That’s good but it’s not increasing at the same rate as giving to other non-profits.
Congregational size matters. Congregations that fall between 100 and 1,000 members tend to give less than those on either side of the spectrum. That’s an interesting finding – perhaps smaller churches feel like family and larger ones feel like they’re part of a movement.
On-line giving continues to grow. Those of you who are regular readers of Inspiring Generosity are not surprised. Read more about that here. 42% of churches offer on-line giving (including Electronic Fund Transfers) compared to 70% of all non-church nonprofits. That’s a pretty big difference.
 Lake Institute’s advice to congregations is:
1. Cultivate strong relationships with donors. (Know people in your congregation. Love the people in your congregation. It makes a difference to them and you.)
2. Explore online giving options that make it easy for individuals to give. (You want that younger people to fully participate? Here’s a hint: they and many others don’t carry checks or cash any more.)
3. Be aware of changing donor demographics. (How do people in your congregation want to give? Why do they want to give to you? Are you attracting new donors?)
And that’s the story from the 2016 Giving USA Highlights and Giving to Religion. See if you can’t adopt one new stewardship practice this summer (on-line giving, asking someone why they give, looking at your demographics) and then maybe you’ll be dancing in the streets too.
P.S. This is my last request for thank you letters that you have either written or received that you think are particularly effective. Send them to inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or go to the Inspiring Generosity Facebook page and post it there. Thanks!
P.P.S. I dare you not to have a tear in your eye as you watch this “What the World Needs Now” performance by Broadway performers for the Orlando victims. All proceeds go to GLBT Community Center of Central Florida.
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 $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She wants to dance like Mick Jagger and David Bowie. 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; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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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.