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Giving USA 2018: Why It Matters

On to numbers and why these ones matter. Every year the Giving USA Foundation, the Giving Institute, and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy join forces to tell us mere mortals where you and I and everyone else is practicing generosity.

This year, the news is encouraging on all fronts. Giving, overall, was up in 2017 by 5.2 percent. For the first time, giving exceeded a whopping $400 billion ($410.02 billion to be exact). Word has it that an improved stock market helped. Here are the deeds in a nutshell:

Giving by individuals: up by 5.2% ($286.65 billion). That's 70% of the giving pie.

Giving by foundations (primarily via grants): up by 6.0% ($59.28 billion). That's 16% of the giving pie.

Giving by bequests (wills/legacy giving): up by 2.3% ($35.70 billion). That's 9% of the giving pie.

Giving by corporations: up by 8.0% ($20.77 billion). That's 5% of the giving pie.

The one statistic you're probably most interested in seeing:

Of individual giving, charitable gifts to religion increased 2.9%.

31% of all charitable dollars went to religion for a total of $127.37 billion.

That's good news!

It's good news because people are primed to be generous. Your people are generous. Individuals are giving the vast majority of all charitable gifts in this country. But, that doesn't mean you get to be complacent. 69% of all individuals are also giving to other non-profits: hospitals, educational institutions, human services, and the arts to name a few.

How can you ensure that your church is at the top of your congregation's giving list?

1. Emphasize the need for the giver to give. It's a spiritual discipline.
2. Thank givers for their gifts. Thank in a variety of ways. Promptly. It really never gets tiresome for people to hear "thank you."
3. Tell your story.Let your people know about the ministries that are being supported because of their generosity. Don't be vague. Be specific.

I may not be the biggest fan of numbers, but these ones do get me excited. They should give you encouragement that within your congregation generosity can be unleashed. And as a result, you'll definitely want to shout thank you!

Cesie Delve Scheuermann, consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing, Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference

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