Giving to Religion in the USA

Kentucky Baptist Foundation
Kentucky Baptist Foundation Funding the Great Commission

By: Barry G. Allen- President & CEO

Charitable giving in the USA attained an all time high in 2007 at $349 billion. Giving in 2013 marked the fourth consecutive year of increased giving but still $14 billion short of the pre recession high. Individuals gave 72% of the total; corporations, foundation and bequests constituted the other 28%. For the year, giving to education increased the most, 7.4% adjusted for inflation, and giving to religion declined 1.6%.

Giving to the religion subsector comprised 31%, the largest share, of all giving in 2013. Compared to most of the subsectors that have seen positive growth since the Great Recession, giving to religion has declined. In the 1980’s religion received over one-half of all giving; now it’s less than one-third. According to Giving USA, the primary reasons for the decline are: changing preferences for religious giving, changes in American religious life and economic factors. The three primary factors that have impacted household giving are: congregational attendance, congregational affiliation and household income. More and more adults are reporting they seldom or never attend religious services. Young people are less likely to attend than older generations, and fewer adults are affiliated with religion than in the past. Among the 30 and younger, one-third are unaffiliated. Decline in household income has had an impact, but lower income households still give a greater portion of income than higher income households.

Congregations of all types and sizes are recognizing that building endowments has become absolutely critical for financial strength and future viability. Best practice today dictates endowments, restricted and unrestricted, should be three to five times the annual church budget and feature giving opportunities similar to colleges and universities.

In its first ever stewardship survey, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) reported more than two-thirds of religious leaders noted their congregations had no written statement on the Bible’s teachings on generosity. No wonder 48% of them stated “spiritual complacency” was their greatest challenge, and a high percentage stated “inadequate understanding of biblical generosity” made fundraising difficult.

The KBF stands ready to equip your church to understand and to adapt to these frightening trends in giving. Call us toll free today!

For more information, please call us at (502) 489-3533 or toll free in KY at 1(866) 489-3533.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

Kentucky Baptist Foundation

Kentucky Baptist Foundation

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