by Mark Jones

Here’s another reminder of our recovering economy. Giving USA reported that donations from individuals increased 4% in 2012. Religious nonprofits received 32% of all donations to nonprofits.

However, not all appears rosy. For example, when adjusted for inflation, giving only increased 1.5%, and overall giving to religious nonprofits was down 2%. And giving still hasn’t come back to 2007 levels.

While the stock market has recovered, it appears the psychology of giving among all Americans has not. Donors are still not confident in their financial affairs, leading to weaker than desired growth in donations. With the national unemployment rate still over 7%, and many Americans working without raises in years, it may take some time before we see giving at or above pre-recession levels. Plus, with low interest rates on their savings, retirees are also pinched.

Research by the ECFA further confirms that the economic recovery has been uneven. Member organizations with revenues of $5 million or less saw donations decrease by 3.6%, while those above $5 million saw a 2.4% increase. Most troubling was that organizations with revenues under $1 million saw a 9.6% drop in 2012.

On the brighter side, the wealthiest Americans appear to be opening their wallets at a greater level than before. This may be due to growing optimism, increased returns from the stock market, or the tax increases and benefits of tax-deductible donations.

What has your ministry experienced? Why do you think smaller ministries have been hit the hardest while larger ministries are seeing gains in donations?

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