2023 Giving Predictions

2023 Giving Predictions

“Almost on Wall Street and in Washington got 2022 wrong.” That is the opening line of a December 27, 2022 article in the Wall Street Journal. The article was entitled “Wall Street, Fed Flopped in Trying to Predict 2022.”1. From the silly to the serious, prognosticators typically get predictions wrong. Keeping that in mind, this Coach is entitled 2023 Giving Predictions.

What will be the state of giving in 2023? The honest answer is that no one knows. But we have seen a few trends that can give us a clue into our immediate future. The recent economic results shed light on what our immediate future holds. Based upon my reading, I believe that…

The volatility of the Stock Market and the unpredictability of the economy will have an impact on your giving. 2022 was the worst year for the Stock Market since 2008. As for the economy, inflation went from 4.70% in 2021 to 7.86% in 2022. Consider these sobering facts:

“$1 in 2021 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1.08 in 2022. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 7.86% per year between 2021 and 2022, producing a cumulative price increase of 7.86%. Purchasing power decreased by 7.86% in 2022 compared to 2021. On average, you would have to spend 7.86% more money in 2022 than in 2021 for the same item. This means that prices in 2022 are 1.08 times as high as average prices since 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.”2.

This meant that your members had less money in 2022 to give, and the dollar they gave in 2022 didn’t have the same buying power it did in 2021. The cost of everything went up. Unless your giving increased by 7.86% last year, you did not keep up with inflation. Thus, your giving actually declined.

The Wall Street Journal article I opened with sums up what this all means for the future of your giving when they wrote, “The extent to which many investors, analysts, and economists were wrong-footed has left many looking at the coming year with a sense of unease.”3. I have found that when there is unease in the Market place, there is unease in the pew.

Church giving shows the impact of the economy. The largest Protestant denomination in the world, the Southern Baptist Convention, going into December, was 6.82 percent under their budget. Their November giving was 8.27% below their budgeted needs. Baptist Press stated, “The 2023 fiscal year (the SBC’s fiscal year started October 1st) is off to a slow start due mainly to negative economic forces affecting churches and individuals across the country. Inflation worries and rising interest rates in recent months are beginning to impact church and personal giving as shown in a below-budget start for the 2023 SBC fiscal year.”4. If the largest denomination in the world is struggling to make budget, don’t be surprised if you, too, struggle.

Most economists forecast a slow economic rebound, with the first quarter of the New Year being much like what we have recently experienced. If we see a rebound in the economy, most feel it will only happen late in 2023. Based upon those concerns, the Wall Street Journal gave this recommendation, “If there is a lesson to be taken away from the past 12 months, some investors and analysts say it is this: Be prepared for more surprises.”5.

How can you prepare now for future surprises? Here are four recommendations to help you sustain your 2023 and beyond. Doing these four things will help you plant S.E.E.D.’s, preparing you for future surprises.

  1. Stabilize your finances. At least for the first quarter, now is not the time for aggressive moves. Work to limit your spending and review all your contracts. Remember, just because it is in the budget doesn’t mean it’s in the bank!

    Shameless Commercial! OnlineGiving.org sponsors the Stewardship Coach platform. Here are a few recent posts about how we can help you stabilize your finances:

    Also, check out the Bonus Section for ideas on how to stabilize your finances by stabilizing your giving.
  2. Elevate your offerings. The easiest way to increase giving and givers is by putting time and effort into your offering time. Determine not to let any offering of 2023 be taken without thought and planning. Commit to spending as much time and effort on the offering time as you do your announcements, and you will see giving increase.
  3. Endow your future. The largest donor group in America by dollars is Baby Boomers. 10K of them turn 65 daily, meaning their earning power and, thus, their giving ability is declining rapidly. Our donor base is aging and, in the next few years, we will see the largest transfer of wealth in our history. Is your church positioned to benefit from this transfer? If you don’t have an endowment plan, you will miss out on a key means of assuring your long-term future. Resolve to have an endowment plan in place by the year’s end.

    How and how much? Most denominations have foundations that will help you with this, and there are also several firms you can use for a small fee. Foundations must be set up correctly, so it pays to get the help you need. How much should you have in an endowment? The answer depends upon your church size, but my goal for most churches is to have at least double their current annual budget. Ultimately, I want to see churches have $1 million or more in an interest-bearing account.
  4. Disciple the Next Generation. Multiple studies in the last years show that the younger generations in the church are not giving the same amount or percentage as older generations. We must get back to focusing on making disciples. Consider a four-week sermon series on stewardship. We must teach the next generation about the joys of generosity and its value for assuring the financial stability of our members.

Are you prepared for the surprises of 2023 and beyond? By planting these four seeds, you help prepare for whatever surprises 2023 has in store. Remember, the church that survives into the future is the church that plans for the future today.

How compelling your vision is, and the completeness of your plan, will determine your preparation for the future.

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

  1. “Wall Street, Fed Flopped in Trying to Predict 2022,” by Akane Otani Wall Street Journal December 27, 2022.
  2. https://www.in2013dollars.com/inflation-rate-in-2022
  3. “Wall Street, Fed Flopped in Trying to Predict 2022,” by Akane Otani Wall Street Journal December 27, 2022.
  4. https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/november-cooperative-program-allocation-budget-report-shows-impact-of-economic-woes/
  5. “Wall Street, Fed Flopped in Trying to Predict 2022,” by Akane Otani Wall Street Journal December 27, 2022.

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