House of worship giving trends

We’re well into 2023, and some churches are anxiously eyeing their budgets and wondering whether this will be the year they venture into the black.

Church Mutual recently surveyed 865 American adults for its “Risk Radar Report — Charitable Giving in America,” and the results were promising: The study found that more than half of Americans (53%) expect to maintain their 2022 charitable donations and giving behavior in the new year. Additionally, 10% expect to increase the amount they’re giving to charity in 2023.
We sat down with Nicole Jolley, assistant vice president for nonprofit and human services at Church Mutual, to talk about some of the most interesting data from the report.

Q. The report found that members of Generation X were more likely to choose houses of worship for their charity donations (79%) than millennials and baby boomers (both at 68%) and members of Generation Z (61%). Why do you think this is the case?

Jolley: It’s important to note that Generation Xers (adults between the ages of 40 and 60) weren’t necessarily more likely to donate than, say, baby boomers. Instead, those who elected to donate their money were more likely to choose houses of worship, rather than schools, camps or other nonprofits. This could be because members of Generation X are at the prime age for being connected to their churches. Many of them are at the height of their career and they have the resources to contribute to their church’s work in the community.

Q. Surprisingly, 70% of donors prefer to contribute via cash or personal check, rather than using online or mobile giving options. Generation Z (people between the ages of 18 and 25) is particularly attached to more tried and true ways of giving, with 80% of them choosing cash or check. What are your thoughts on these statistics?

Jolley: Many Gen Z’ers yearn for the 1990s and 2000s, when people were less attached to their devices and more focused on interpersonal connections. It makes sense that they would be attracted to tangible forms of giving such as cash or check. Churches should continue to offer multiple methods for giving, including passing the offering plate. It’s important to meet your donors where they are. While online donations are increasing, we can’t assume everyone prefers online giving.

Q. According to the report, 88% of baby boomers contribute to charitable organizations, which is more than any other generational group. Does this surprise you?

Jolley: Not at all. Many baby boomers are either retired or about to retire, and they may be long past paying for college or a mortgage. Baby boomers own over 50% of the country’s wealth. Theoretically, they have more financial stability than younger generations, so they feel a pull toward charitable giving.

Q. While older generations are more likely to give than younger generations, a surprising number of people ages 40 and younger planned to increase their giving in 2023. The study found that 15% of millennials and 11% of Generation Z planned to increase their giving. That surpasses the 7% of baby boomers who said they would be increasing their giving. Why do you think that is the case?

Jolley: I think we’re seeing a lot of trends with younger generations – they want a purpose that makes them feel good about themselves and how they contribute to their communities – whether that be who they work for or what they do in their spare time. Younger generations have more flexibility in the ways they support the causes they believe in, which may in turn lead to increased giving.


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