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Giving USA Report 2009: What can we learn?

Giving USA 2009

I recently purchased the annual Giving USA Report for the year 2009. When you purchase the report you can also buy a number of options. I always purchase the Powerpoint slides and use them in my training. This is the first year in many where gross dollars given to nonprofits has gone down 3.6% from 2008. In 2009 $303.75 billion was given by Americans to U.S. charities. Here are a few of the key things I saw in the report:

  1. Source of Gifts: Once again the most gifts come from individuals 75%. The report also goes on to say the following: Individuals + Charitable Bequests = 83%; Individuals + Charitable Bequests + Family Foundations = 89%. Conclusion: Giving is still an individual/family decision. The idea that foundations for corporations can fund your ministry or organization is wrong.
  2. Giving to Religion: It is still the largest segment of giving at 33%. The report then offers the following: This estimate does NOT include contributions to faith-based organizations offering other services such as healthcare, education, or social services. When you consider giving to religious based hospitals, Christian schools, as well as rescue mission and even the Salvation Army, I believe it is safe to assume that giving to religion is closer to 47-49% of all giving, maybe even more.
  3. Growth in Giving to Religion: The category grew by .01 percent over the previous year. Considering the lack of stewardship teaching in our seminaries and churches, that is amazing to me. A recent report from Maximum Generosity (Brian Kluth) showing 38% of the churches and ministries polled said their giving was down over 2008. Yet, 62% found their giving met or exceeded their goals. A very positive sign indeed!
  4. Giving as a Share of Disposable Income: Individual giving was estimated at 2.1% DPI for 2009. This % has always been in the 1.9% - 2.2% and is still within that range. What does that tell us? While Americans are still very generous, as Christians that are challenged to start with a tithe and go beyond in the New Testament, we are still giving out of "disposable income" and not making "sacrificial giving" a priority in our lives. (This is on average. There are many wonderful stories of stewardship in our churches and ministries.)

Well, those are a few observations from my perspective. You may get the report and interpret your own. Feel free to share them with me and others. Learning about our giving trends is just one piece of information to compare our organization s donors with national trends. It is also and educational tool. Share this report with your CEO, board, and other leaders in your organization. It will become a valuable point of your reference for your development efforts.


Until next time,


Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE

Author, Teacher, Consultant