I attended a Faith and Fundraising conference led by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. It was as helpful an event as I’ve ever attended and I’m very thankful to the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC for underwriting it.
The bad news first—as a share of overall charitable giving, religious giving has fallen from over half of all charitable dollars given to about one-third today. In 1994, 45% of all charitable dollars went to religion; in 2009 it was 33%. What accounts for this? Involvement follows investment. It’s no surprise to see that weekly church attendance trends are directly related to giving trends.
Now the good news— religious giving increased from 58.87 billion dollars to 100.95 billion dollars in the same period. So why do I call this good news when religious percentage decreased? Well, religious organizations still managed to receive one third of all charitable donations though they tend to have the worst fund raising practices! The hope for churches is that events like Faith and Fundraising will bring us up to speed on best practices used by other groups competing for charitable gifts like universities, hospitals, and not for profits. For all the good work being done by so many, churches still have the greatest motive to express our generosity….thanks be to God!