Americans are incredibly blessed. Those in our nation who are age 60 and above average $800,000 in personal assets. In the coming years our nation will see the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world as over $33 trillion will pass from one generation to their designated beneficiaries.
The 2020 Giving USA Report revealed some interesting data. Last year, Americans gave $471.44 billion to charitable causes. Religious institutions were recipient of 28% ($131.08B) of those dollars. Individuals made 69% of those gifts, followed by Foundations (19%) and Bequests (9%). While the total dollars directed toward religious institutions increased, the overall percentage of those distributions decreased as people directed more dollars to Education and Human Services.
While the sheer volume of giving is quite impressive, there are some concerns that church leaders need to be made aware. The most staggering of which is the data that shows Americans who give to charitable institutions only give 2.2% of their annual income. This is less that the percentage donated during the Great Depression, when Americans gave 3.3% to charity. In other words, we are not as generous as those who gave during the Great Depression.
Today, only 35% of people have an estate plan in place, and of those who do, only 10% have included a charitable component. Given the imminent wealth transfer that we face, churches need to develop an overall stewardship strategy to disciple their givers.
There are two types of givers. The first is the Income Giver, where the giver contributes either a dollar amount or a percentage of their annual income to their church and charities of choice. This is usually the main focus of church leadership who design annual campaigns to make the case for their ministries to be included each year.
But the second type of giver is the Balance Sheet Giver, who gives out of their net worth. These are the givers who have done estate planning and have taken advantage of tax laws to protect their estates from taxes by directing dollars and non cash assets to churches and eligible not for profit organizations. Church leaders and givers alike are often unaware of the possibilities and potential that is available.
Focusing on Income Giving is needful and necessary, but incomplete. Churches must develop generosity ministries to fully disciple and develop their givers. If you’d like more information on how your church can develop a Generosity Ministry that addresses current and future financial needs, let me know. I’d love to have a conversation on how your Church can get started!