Giving

Giving to Religious Organizations Down for 2018 According to Giving USA

By James Provenza, Associate of HealthierChurch.org

Giving USA has is an organization that issues an annual report on the state of charitable giving in the USA.  The report for 2018 is out and the news was not good.

Overall giving was down 1.8% from 2017.  Giving to religious organizations was down 3% from 2017.  We suspect there are several reasons for this.  One is the stock market was shaky in the 4th quarter.  Another may be the uncertainties created by tax reform.   Fewer people will itemize deductions, and therefore may be less willing to give to charity.  The middle-class donor is disappearing.  This means that larger donors have to make up the difference.

What can your churches do to counteract this?   Here are some suggestions:

  1. Stay focused and don’t panic. If your giving has been stable, count your blessings. However, don’t assume it will stay that way without some extra effort on your part.
  2. Ask people to give from donor advised funds. Donor advised funds are extremely popular.  When sending out response cards for the annual stewardship drive or for any special purpose, make sure the card has an option for the member to request a distribution from their donor advised fund to your church.  It has been my experience that people, and churches don’t think about donor advised funds unless it is put in front of them.  Giving from a donor advised fund has no impact on a person’s tax return.  The member got the deduction when the money went into the donor advised fund.
  3. Older members should be encouraged to use the charitable IRA rollover.   There may have been a time when it didn’t matter where the member’s money came from, but under tax reform it may well matter.  Churches do not discuss this enough.  The donor reports no income, gets no deduction and satisfies their required minimum distribution.
  4.  Encourage year end gifts of appreciated securities.  There are still too many people who don’t know that this is a very tax-wise way to make a difference.

All this indicates that churches, and charities generally, must be ready to work harder to encourage stewardship.  We have experience in helping churches with stewardship and with planned giving of assets.  If your church is at risk, we can help.  Please call if you have questions.

James Provenza
James C. Provenza & Associates, P.C.
jprovenza@provenzalaw.com
847 729 3939

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