How to Avoid the Coming Giving Crisis

How to Avoid the Coming Giving Crisis

Americans are giving to charity at lowest level in nearly 3 decades. That was the headline of a post that I clicked on recently. The article, posted by Axios, summed up the decline by saying, “Americans gave 1.7% of their personal disposable income to charity in 2022, the lowest level they had given since 1995.”1. When it comes to giving to religious causes, like your church, giving declined by 2.6%. These numbers support other studies and, combined, they show that by 2050 Americans will give around 1% of their disposable income to churches. Thousands of churches will close due to this crisis in giving.

This week’s Coach is entitled How to Avoid the Coming Giving Crisis. In this edition, I want to share what you must do today to avoid the coming giving crisis.

How can church leaders avoid this crisis in giving? Here are my thoughts.

Step One:  Keep What Ya Got! A recent study on generational giving in the future admonished readers to work on the retention of existing donors. To that end, your focus should be twofold. You need to help your existing younger generations learn about and exercise true biblical generosity. At the same time, you must continue to cultivate your best-giving group, Baby Boomers. Let’s start there.

Right now, Baby Boomers are the largest giving generational group in America. If you check the top 10% of your donors, you will find that most of them are Baby Boomers. You need to keep them in the fold for as long as you can. My recommendation to my clients with regard to this key segment is twofold.

First, help them get their financial house in order. Consider these startling facts…

  • Baby Boomers have an average of $152,000 saved for retirement.
  • 45% of Baby Boomers have no retirement savings.
  • 28% of those Baby Boomers who do have retirement savings have less than $100,000 saved.
  • About half of all retirees plan to live off their Social Security benefits entirely.
  • The average Social Security benefit was $1,555 per month in 2021.

Second, encourage Baby Boomers to think about leaving a legacy to your church. It is said that the greatest transfer of wealth will occur over the next 30 to 40 years as $30 trillion in assets will pass from Boomers to their heirs in the United States alone. Less than 10% of bequests in America go to any church. That is because less than 10% of churches in America have any type of estate planning offered to their members.

One way you can ensure a better financial future for your church is to offer programs that help Boomers think and plan for their estates. To a large extent, we missed the last generation. Let’s not miss this one!

Step Two:  Win what you don’t have. Evangelism seems to be a lost art in far too many churches. Jesus did not call us to a social or political movement. The Great Commission is about one thing: seeing people come to Christ. I am not saying social issues are not important. I am saying that the answer to every problem our society has can be answered by the Gospel.

Logic tells us that if a church doesn’t continue to grow, it will ultimately die. If you want to avoid the coming 1% giving crisis, you must have some plan of evangelism.

Step Three:  Teach them up! We need to go back to old-fashioned discipleship. For too long, we have focused on attracting a crowd on weekends with cool music, rock concert type of settings, and clever sermons. The result is a poorly trained, fickle crowd that often gives little to nothing to support the work of the Church. We need to stress discipleship again. A part of being a disciple is to learn the importance of generosity.

George Barna, in his book How to Increase Giving in Your Church, said, “Churches in which pastors preach a series of messages about giving are nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to experience an increase in giving than when preachers speak about giving, one sermon at a time, on two or more nonconsecutive occasions during the year.” Find encouraging ways to communicate God’s Word about a key aspect of our lives, and you will not have people push away but rather thank you for helping them. It is not that we preach about money that makes people leery. It is how it has been done in the past. Jesus talked more about money and possessions than any other subject. Shouldn’t we take a page out of his manual and do likewise?

Generosity is taught, not caught. So, as you work to engage the younger generations, make sure they understand our biblical call to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted to us.

Step Four:  Inspire them to keep giving! Above all else, have a vision that makes people want to donate. George Barna said, “The churches most effective at fund-raising are those that are most consistent and compelling in communicating the needs the church wishes to address.” People give to something of worth. If you are looking for big dollars, you need a big vision. Work on communicating a clear, concise, and, most of all, compelling vision; you will find people stepping up to support that dream. Vision is the driver that opens up my heart, which controls my bank account. What vision has God given you? Have you made it clear, concise, and compelling? Nothing offsets a decline in giving like a compelling vision.

Will your church avoid the coming crisis in giving? If you do nothing today, you won’t avoid it. Let me close with one of my key mantras…

The church that survives into the future is the church that plans today for tomorrow.

Let’s get you prepared now to avoid the coming giving crisis.

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

Missions and Ministry Moment (aka Offering Talk) – This week’s talk can be accessed after you register at:


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