Giving is Up. That's Good, Right?

Giving is Up. That’s Good, Right?

Gather ‘round kids and hear a tale from the old days. I’ll admit it. I kind of miss doing research in the library. There was something cool about being in the stacks searching for that one piece of data that was a gem. Success! So what if it took five hours to find anything? It was a treasure hunt. But, I’m also a realist. Who in “modern times” wants to take the effort to do that kind of research when it’s available through the magic box right in front of you? Bonus: with a magic box, you can easily take multiple breaks and look at Facebook. Truth be told, I’m glad someone else does almost all the research for me now.
Which brings us to research revealed by Giving USA’s 2017 report. Overall, the news is great.
For the sixth time in the past 40 years, giving is up. That means people have increased their giving to religion; education; human services; giving to foundations; health; public-society benefit; arts, culture, and humanities; international affairs; and the environment and animals.

Woo hoo! Break out the party hats and streamers! This is good news. Especially in light of the political turmoil that people faced in 2016. It’s a wonder everyone wasn’t hunkering down in some dark hole. Higher giving is most closely associated with improved economic factors. The economy in 2016 was moving in the right direction for a lot of individuals. So hip hip hooray for generous people!
-  Overall giving by individuals (as opposed to foundations or corporations) increased by 3.9%, representing 72% of total giving in the U.S.
-  Religious giving represented a whopping 32% of all U.S. charitable giving – with education (15.3%) coming in a distant second.
-  Religious giving had the smallest increase (3%) compared to all other categories. Giving to environment and animal organizations had the highest increase at 7.2%.
Primary area of opportunity:
Giving by bequest (through wills and charitable trusts) decreased a surprising 9%. Still, 8% of all giving in 2016 came through legacy gifts. If you haven’t done so, remind people in your congregation/organization to remember you, in writing, in their will or charitable trust before they pass on.
Key Takeaway:
I’m going to agree with Bloomerang: Add up the 72% of individual givers and the 8% of giving by bequest and you’ve got the staggering realization that 80% of all giving comes through individuals. "Use 80% of your time seeking out and building relationships with individuals."
While you celebrate the good news that our country is on a generous trajectory, don’t forget that the sincere care and concern you express for your people will be the most significant thing you can do to maintain and increase their generosity. Ask them how they are (“How is it with your soul?”), thank them, and make sure they know how their financial gifts are changing lives and the world.
After you’ve done that, feel free to make a visit to the stacks of your local library, check out a book, and thank God for Google.
For a closer look at the Giving USA 2017 report (including a cool infographic), check out the summary press release from Giving U.S.A. and the article “Religious Giving Holds Steady” from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She would like to thank Dr. Google for her help with this blog post. She was 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. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
If someone has forwarded this to you and you would like to subscribe to "Inspiring Generosity," click here.  Miss an issue?  Click here.

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.