5 Charitable Giving Trends Your Church Must-Know For 2019

5 Charitable Giving Trends Your Church Must-Know For 2019

This week on TV, Rick Dunham, the Chief Executive Officer of Dunham+Company, joins Dean Sweetman and Frank Barry to talk about trends in charitable giving your church must-know.

Tithely media icon
Modern Church leader
Publish date
December 19, 2018

This week on TV, Rick Dunham, the Chief Executive Officer of Dunham+Company, joins Dean Sweetman and Frank Barry to talk about trends in charitable giving your church must-know. Rick has 40 years of experience in fundraising and marketing, and his work provides him with a front row seat to trends in giving in the United States and around the world.

During their conversation, they talk about:

  • Why your church must prepare for trends in giving
  • Rapid changes in online and mobile giving
  • Proven best practices for increasing giving online
  • The rise of cryptocurrency


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:


This week on TV, Rick Dunham, the Chief Executive Officer of Dunham+Company, joins Dean Sweetman and Frank Barry to talk about trends in charitable giving your church must-know. Rick has 40 years of experience in fundraising and marketing, and his work provides him with a front row seat to trends in giving in the United States and around the world.

During their conversation, they talk about:

  • Why your church must prepare for trends in giving
  • Rapid changes in online and mobile giving
  • Proven best practices for increasing giving online
  • The rise of cryptocurrency


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:

podcast transcript

(Scroll for more)

This week on TV, Rick Dunham, the Chief Executive Officer of Dunham+Company, joins Dean Sweetman and Frank Barry to talk about trends in charitable giving your church must-know. Rick has 40 years of experience in fundraising and marketing, and his work provides him with a front row seat to trends in giving in the United States and around the world.

During their conversation, they talk about:

  • Why your church must prepare for trends in giving
  • Rapid changes in online and mobile giving
  • Proven best practices for increasing giving online
  • The rise of cryptocurrency


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:

VIDEO transcript

(Scroll for more)

Frank Barry:  All right. We're live.

Dean Sweetman:  Hey, fans. Dean Sweetman and Frank Barry. Big, warm welcome today. We have a fantastic show. I've been really looking forward to this, Frank. We've got a great guest today.

Frank Barry:  Yes.

Dean Sweetman:  Rick Dunham.

Frank Barry:  It's going to be awesome. Would you like to introduce him, or should I introduce him?

Dean Sweetman:  You introduce him. I'll give you the honors.

Frank Barry:  Yeah. So we've got Rick Dunham. Let me bring him on screen here just because he's right here with us. Hey, Rick. How's it going?

Rick Dunham:  Good. Great to be with you.

Frank Barry:  Yeah, yeah. It's so good. And Rick, you've been in the ... I guess maybe fundraising at large, but really specifically, you've worked a lot with churches and ministries for, what, going on 40 years? And started Dunham + Company as a company along [crosstalk 00:01:21]-

Rick Dunham:  That makes me feel really old when you say that.

Frank Barry:  But you don't look a day over 35, so ...

Rick Dunham:  Thank you.

Frank Barry:  ... you know, you're doing well, doing well.

Frank Barry:  But Rick, you've been at this for a long time. So you bring a wealth of I guess just practical experience and just knowledge of the industry and churches and ministries and fundraising. So we're super excited about this show and the topic.

Frank Barry:  And I know that our audience, you know, we work with approaching 9,000 churches on this platform. And so we like to help churches with fundraising and with growing, giving, and generosity and all these things. So we're pumped to talk to you today. Thanks for joining us.

Rick Dunham:  I'm really happy to be here.

Frank Barry:  So-

Dean Sweetman:  Maybe, Rick, do you want to start by telling us about your work, what Dunham + Company does, essentially, and how you guys have, for a long time now, by the scent of things, been in this whole space of generosity and giving.

Rick Dunham:  Yeah, and that's-

Frank Barry:  How long has Dunham + Company been around? [crosstalk 00:02:24] company.

Rick Dunham:  The company itself has been around for 16, we're in our 17th year. I've actually, like you mentioned, I've been in it for 40 years. And I actually got started when I was getting my master's of theology at Dallas Seminary. And that whole journey there, it created a heart for ministry. I went to seminary because I wanted to teach, but I got exposed to the world of ministry in a way I hadn't before.

Rick Dunham:  So, long and short of it, worked at a radio ministry with Chuck Swindoll for about a year, and then worked at Campus Crusade for Christ, and worked at Biola University, all in kind of the fundraising space. When it-

Frank Barry:  My wife went to Biola. She did ... too funny.

Rick Dunham:  That's awesome. Well, I actually graduated from Biola back in the '70s, and then went there as VP for Advancement for a few years.

Rick Dunham:  But I got into the fundraising space mainly because ... yeah, I was concerned about how ministries could effectively fulfill their call. Whether the local church, whether a ministry outside the church. How could they actually fulfill the call that God had put on them without the resourcing?

Rick Dunham:  So that's been our ... yeah, it's been our space for now 40 years.

Frank Barry:  Wow. You bounce around a lot. So Advancement, I guess for those that may not know the terminology, is what?

Rick Dunham:  Well, for the university, that was everything that was public facing, basically.

Frank Barry:  Got it.

Rick Dunham:  So Student Recruitment, Public Relations, Development, et cetera. Yeah.

Frank Barry:  Right, right, right. Have you spent any time working at churches specifically? Or has it always been from the Dunham + Company kind of outside perspective, coming in in the consultant kind of role?

Rick Dunham:  Yeah, I actually served on staff at a couple different churches. And then, I've also been ... I helped to found a church when we lived in Dallas for a stint. And then, I have served on numerous elder boards over the years.

Frank Barry:  Yeah. Oh, yeah. So you've kind of hit a topic of fundraising and growth and things like that from a bunch of different angles, I guess.

Rick Dunham:  Yup. Very much.

Dean Sweetman:  Been in the trenches.

Rick Dunham:  Absolutely.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah. So today we want to focus a little bit on ... a lot of your work is digging and mining data, and looking at trends. What would you say maybe have been some of the top trends in recent history, and then maybe let's get into some of the things moving forward?

Rick Dunham:  Yeah, I think there's a couple of probably macro trends. Our company is part of The Giving Institute, and I serve as Chairman of the Board of the Giving USA Foundation that publishes Giving USA every year. And that's been going on for decades. And one of the big findings there ... it's the longest-running report on philanthropy in America ... is that giving to religion has always been the largest portion. Back in the '80s, it represented 50% of giving. Today, it's sitting at about 32%.

Rick Dunham:  So it's gone down, but also, in real dollars, it's continued to increase. Because philanthropy, for those that don't know, 2017, there was $410 billion given ... charitable organizations, including the local church.

Frank Barry:  Churches, ministries, faith-based organizations represent a large portion of that, right? Isn't it ...

Rick Dunham:  Yes.

Frank Barry:  ... 120, 130 billion of that is to religious charities?

Rick Dunham:  Yeah, about 130 billion, you're right, is specifically to churches and church-affiliated organizations. Yeah.

Dean Sweetman:  Is that going up or down, Rick?

Rick Dunham:  Well, it's going up. Obviously in the Great Recession, giving took a massive hit. It was running at about 310 billion, and then dropped to 296 billion. And it was the first time there'd ever been a significant drop like that in charitable giving ever in the U.S.

Rick Dunham:  And so there was a time of recovery. But the one thing that we know is that a church affiliation, especially attendance, regular attendance at church is a strong corelation to giving. Which doesn't surprise any of us.

Rick Dunham:  So the church tended to do better through that period than many other organizations.

Dean Sweetman:  Right, right. And in your kind of looking at this is ... This number is going up, you say, but attendance is down? I mean, what's the correlation there?

Rick Dunham:  Yeah, there's a lot of research going on right now. And actually quite a big debate around the increasing nons, non-affiliated people, who ... And we work also with the Lake Institute up at Indiana University that does quite a bit of research around giving to the church. And the non-affiliated ... the lack of affiliation with the local church has a correlation to the decrease in giving. There's been, over the last 20 years or so, there's a decrease of about 20 million households in terms of actual giving to charity.

Dean Sweetman:  Wow.

Rick Dunham:  So there's a significant trend there. But as I said, that the actual amount being given to philanthropy's going up. So obviously, more is being given by high net worth individuals.

Dean Sweetman:  Right. Yeah, and I think obviously that correlates with, you know, since the Great Recession, you've had this incredible increase in just start-up companies, online companies, tech companies in general, growing into be multi-billion dollar companies, and founders now worth multi billions of dollars. And you look at someone like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who've kind of really led the way in these philanthropic endeavors. And obviously, that's trickling in to other high net worth individuals. Is that what you would think?

Rick Dunham:  Yup, that's happening. But also, part of the debate as to why there's fewer donors today than there ... there's a decrease in people that are giving, households giving, is the degree to which it's a bit of a self-inflicted wound.

Rick Dunham:  We've got two major national studies that we've conducted, among others. But two really significant. One is called The Online Fundraising Scorecard. The other's Social Media Scorecard. And on the Online Fundraising Scorecard, basically, we had to grade on the curve because it included obviously a significant portion of Christian ministries, is that the consumer ... and this has shifted fairly rapidly ... is living their life in the digital world. And it's this thing. I mean, this is where people are living their lives. We're all living our lives there.

Rick Dunham:  And we counseled churches and ministries that the challenge is what we call the Amazon effect. Is the consumer can go in, choose something, click once, done. And I'm out of there. Then I go to give a gift, and in many situations, charitable organizations and churches, they struggle to give online. Because the giving facility is so awkward and so difficult.

Rick Dunham:  So it's an area that I think is one of the reasons, especially with the younger generation, those that are really living their lives purely in that technology space, where they just ... as ministries, as organizations, churches, we just haven't made it easy enough.

Dean Sweetman:  Right. And that is, for us as a company ...

Frank Barry:  I mean, that was too easy.

Dean Sweetman:  ... [crosstalk 00:10:20] exist, right?

Rick Dunham:  But it's true. That is the reality, is that the trending to online giving is so significant. And even to mobile. I mean, well over 50% of content's now viewed on mobile.

Dean Sweetman:  Correct.

Rick Dunham:  And if that's happening, then I've gotta be there in a way, in a fashion, that makes it easy for somebody to engage.

Dean Sweetman:  Right. Yup. Shameless plug, go to, and you'll get it all sorted.

Frank Barry:  And, I mean, you mentioned sort of the growth, and I mean I guess there's probably a lot of things to unpack in everything you just said. But I know in one of your recent reports, the Online Giving Scorecard, you mentioned how bigger churches are having more success than smaller churches. You saw some delineation between size and effectiveness. So, I mean, maybe talk a little bit about that. Like, why are big churches finding more successful than small churches, and what can small churches do to mimic some of the thing the big churches are do so they can find success?

Rick Dunham:  Sure. So the one study you're referring to is we've done some longitudinal studies on online giving within the church space. Kind of what do we see trending there? And so 2015 was the first study, and we saw that about 42% of churches at that point actually offered that as an option. And last year, when we did the study, it jumped up to 74%. So obviously, churches are adapting to this, and adopting the technology.

Rick Dunham:  I think for the most part, it's pretty logical that the larger churches have more staffing and capability to bring on technology like that than the smaller churches that maybe are even working with a volunteer staff, or a part-time pastor. And so it's just obvious that kind of these larger churches have a bit more capacity to bring that technology on and do it well.

Rick Dunham:  But, as you well know, is that the technology has changed so much, and it's simplified so much, that even the small church now should be able to ... can, if they want to ... to bring that technology on. And then it's a matter of promoting it effectively.

Frank Barry:  Right. Well, what are some of the things that you've seen or heard about in terms of effective promotion? Because big churches, that's in their DNA, right? Like, the big guys ...

Rick Dunham:  Right.

Frank Barry:  ... they really know how to communicate, and sometimes maybe the small churches struggle there a little bit. So what are some of the big or small tips that the smaller guys can take away?

Rick Dunham:  Well, I think first of all, it's not difficult. The space that you own every Sunday is there on the stage. And just by even making a mention, by getting a screenshot up on the screen, to be able to remind people that we've made it easy for you to contribute with this product, and with this methodology. So here's how you do it.

Rick Dunham:  One church that I was at not long ago actually had 2,000 members in the audience, and didn't once mention the online giving portal. They just pass the plate. I was stunned.

Frank Barry:  Wow.

Rick Dunham:  So most of these people don't have cash in their pocket, and I doubt if they ... checkbook. So why are you doing that and not really kind of encouraging them to go online to give?

Rick Dunham:  So yeah, I just think it's a matter of creating an awareness and being disciplined around that awareness.

Dean Sweetman:  I do this experiment when if I'm in an audience, you know ... and I was in one a few months ago. It was maybe 1500 people. And it's like, "Hey, I'm gonna take an offering. Would you get out your checkbook? Would you hold it up?" And of course, these are senior people. Couple of senior people waving their checkbook. And they're really proud of it, right? They're like, "I've got my checkbook!"

Dean Sweetman:  And then I said, "Well, hey, if you've got a phone, can you wave it up?" And of course, 99% of people do that. So that, in our effort to educate both our customers and the market in general, it's really ... and you mentioned this before, that that shift to mobile, that is everything.

Dean Sweetman:  I'm interested if you've got some data on that around mobile and that whole kind of focus, which is, like you said, that's where everything's headed.

Rick Dunham:  Yeah ... we actually do. We did a generational study looking at the various generations and their behaviors. What we found is on the technology piece, not surprisingly, like 99% of Millennials owned a smartphone. But even as many as 60-some-odd percent of the Mature Generation, the Greatest Generation, owned a ... I mean, it was massive.

Rick Dunham:  So, I mean, and that ... obviously the adoption rate there is increasing. I've got a 89 year old, almost 90 year old this month, mother-in-law, who ... she's better on her smartphone than I am. She cracks me up. She knows-

Frank Barry:  My father in law was using Apple Pay before I was.

Rick Dunham:  Yup.

Frank Barry:  You know? And he's 70 plus. So, I mean ... everybody's using this stuff.

Rick Dunham:  And I kind of go back to the reason why this has become such a passion for me, it really is rooted in my theology. My degree was in Systematic Theology, and about 10 years into my career, I began to ask the question, "Does fundraising, does asking people for money, actually bring a smile to the face of God?" And that literally was the thought that entered my mind. And I thought, "That's kind of an interesting question."

Rick Dunham:  So bottom line is, I ended up scouring Scripture, and ended up writing a book called If God Will Provide, Why Do We Have To Ask For Money? And at the core of it is ... the conviction I came to is, our relationship with God is directly correlated with how we handle money.

Dean Sweetman:  Totally

Rick Dunham:  And its role in our life. And giving is a form of demonstrating that money does not have mastery over us.

Rick Dunham:  And so, to me, the more we as church leaders ... And I actually believe that God has called us to challenge people to give, because our natural inclination is to hold onto our stuff. And there's a beautiful illustration of this in Exodus, when Moses is commanded by God to take up an offering. To do literally a fundraiser. And it was to build the tabernacle.

Rick Dunham:  And so my whole point in all of this is that I think as our job is to not only challenge and inspire God's people to get after funding God's work, but it's also then to provide the way to give in the simplest fashion possible so there's no barriers. And if we can combine those two things, we're rocking and rolling.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah. You know, that's the essence of what we do, obviously. And it's, like, you're in that church a ways go, and a couple thousand people, and no online or mobile option. We talk to churches every single day, old churches, new churches, young churches, and the rapid rate of which they're waking up and going, "You know what? If we don't get on this, we're missing out," is the bottom line.

Rick Dunham:  And I think it even goes to the level that I think that the adoption of the technology's been so great that it's not any more ... A person may really, truly want to give, but not have even a way to give, because they don't have any other way of doing a financial transaction.

Dean Sweetman:  Exactly. So kids ... like my kids, using things like Venmo to pay for stuff and send money to their friends. They go out for dinner and they split the check, and they just ... you know. And I remember even back in the day the first time I used the Starbucks app to buy a coffee. So it was a purely cardless transaction, forget about cash. It was purely embedded in the phone. And that's, what, eight years ago, whatever it was now.

Dean Sweetman:  So fast forward, I use Uber a fair bit. We're a one-car family. We live kind of within a small geographical area. And for five bucks, I can get anywhere. So the Uberization of technology as far as ... And like, the Amazon one, the 1-Click, when they introduced 1-Click, which ... that was like, probably a massive game-changer in my kind of estimation. All those things just keep driving the marketplace to feel safe about a mobile experience. That's their go-to when they start thinking about a payment. And maybe a donation. And it's just embedded in culture now.

Rick Dunham:  Well, I'll give you a stat that's a bit mind-blowing. This goes back two years ago, there was a study out of a group in Princeton, New Jersey. And they were able to ... Their study estimated that in that year alone, $1.7 trillion had been abandoned in shopping carts online. 1.7 trillion. Which is all the friction stuff. So that's why ... back to your point, the simpler the transaction, the more likely it's gonna be completed. The harder the transaction, the more likely it won't be completed. Simple as that.

Frank Barry:  And we like to say, like, what we do at's the last 1%, right? We just help with that moment of, like, "I'm inspired to give. I'm ready to give." We want it to be super easy, Amazon 1-Click style. But I don't know, going back to your point earlier, you were saying you're in this church, and they didn't even talk about digital giving, but they passed the plate. And yet, you have this deep conviction, like, giving to God's church and people being generous, like, that's how we all do this together. That's how we help spread the gospel.

Frank Barry:  Why are churches afraid of the technology? Why are they afraid to convert from the plate to mobile? It's like, so many churches, it seems like, are still reluctant to do that.

Rick Dunham:  Yeah. One of the data points, it was pretty interesting in our study, is that even churches that have brought on the mobile technology and the ability to give online, actually saw an increase in giving through the plate. And a ... I mean, because bottom line, in my mind, it was a ... they put the technology in, but they never really promoted it.

Frank Barry:  Right, yeah.

Rick Dunham:  Never made people aware of it. Or-

Frank Barry:  They had like one person using it in their church, right? It's a church of 100 people, one person uses it, and they still rely on the plate heavily instead of promoting it.

Rick Dunham:  Yup. Yup.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah, there's definitely a kind of a ... we feel as much as anything in providing the technology that we're in this education kind of space increasingly, where we're trying to educate pastors and leaders to ... The obvious benefits, right, when you can give anywhere at any time. When you can set up recurring in a really simple way. That's gonna increase giving. But the education factor is just kind of huge with all this stuff.

Rick Dunham:  And I go back to the other point is, that the average donor gives to at least six organizations. So it's not like they're not giving. They're gonna give. The question is, are you, one, inspiring them with what God's doing through the work of the church? Number two, are you making it easy for them to give in such a way that they can be generous with you?

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah. I mean, we talked about that in an episode or two ago. It's like, you know, this time of year-

Frank Barry:  Well, even last ... Yeah, like the last two episodes, this has kind of come up with the holiday giving season.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah. People are gonna give this time of year. It's like, well, if you don't get out in front and talk about your church's vision, what you've done, what you're going to do, people are gonna go and send that money other places.

Rick Dunham:  Absolutely right.

Frank Barry:  So I feel like we've hit one major trend. Like, mobile. And that could be the only one that really matters. But outside of mobile, Rick, are there other things that you've seen in just all of your experience and work as well as in the research you've done, that churches need to be paying attention to?

Rick Dunham:  Yeah, when we did that generational study, we actually found that the Millennial Generation, who's engaged in the local church, is actually giving ... They're not giving as much money, because they're incapable of that, but almost exactly the same percentage of Millennials are giving as Gen-Xers.

Frank Barry:  Wow.

Rick Dunham:  Only slightly less than Boomers. And of course, the biggest percentage are the Mature Generation.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah.

Rick Dunham:  So one of the what I'd call false trends out there in the marketplace is that the Millennial Generation isn't generous. I think people, especially the Millennials that are engaged in the local church, have a desire to give. But stage of life, they've got kind of two strikes against them right now. One is, they entered the workforce primarily during down economic times. So the ability to get a job at a level that they would hope for, that most generations had available, wasn't [crosstalk 00:24:25].

Frank Barry:  [crosstalk 00:24:25]

Rick Dunham:  And second is, the level of student debt is at an all-time high.

Frank Barry:  Yeah, it's crazy.

Rick Dunham:  So you put those two factors together, it doesn't mean ... I think it's a danger to write off the Millennial Generation, because I think the heart is right. Just the capability is not fully there.

Rick Dunham:  So I was really stunned when we got our numbers back. And I go, "Wow." I mean, one out of four Millennials who attend church regularly are giving, and it's about the same percentage as Gen-Xers.

Dean Sweetman:  That's pretty high, in my experience.

Rick Dunham:  It was a stunning finding. It's another trend that I think the local church needs to pay attention to, is, again, not to write off that generation.

Rick Dunham:  And the other one that's kind of coming down the pike a bit, and it's so new that there's a lot of speculation as to where it's really gonna go, and it's cryptocurrency. Kind of our stance on cryptocurrency is it's here to stay, it's just going through what would be kind of a normative process.

Frank Barry:  Yeah. Like this time last year, it was off the charts, right? It was all over the news going crazy.

Rick Dunham:  Yup. And I think the fact that there are now some cryptocurrencies that are being ... I know of one in particular that's gonna be the first that the FCC actually license and approves. I think as certain types of regulations are put in and normalizes a bit more, I won't be surprised ... Kind of my opinion is this is gonna be the currency the Gen-X kind of owns. This is gonna emerge with their generation. And it's gonna be very interesting to see where it goes.

Frank Barry:  Yeah. Have you seen any churches, or any real-life examples yet, of either churches or ministries taking donations in crypto? Or maybe specifically Bitcoin, just because it's the biggest one out there. Or being asked, you know?

Rick Dunham:  There's a ... yeah.

Frank Barry:  Just curious.

Rick Dunham:  I know of a couple that are actually taking donations in cryptocurrency now. But again, it's so early, early days ...

Frank Barry:  Right, right.

Rick Dunham:  ... that ... One of our folks, we got a guy that ... Nils Smith, who is our scout over the hill trying to help us understand what's coming. And he's ... a lot of research on it right now, trying to figure out what are the implications for the local church or Christian ministries.

Dean Sweetman:  That's exciting. That's the kind of stuff that excites us, actually. We're super technology embracing ... You know, and sometimes you have to be cautious with things. I remember standing up in front of the church, I don't know, seven years ago now, saying you could give with an app. And whilst there was a lot of people that got excited about it, there was a really big segment that were like, "Hang on a minute. You want me to give it through my phone?" But-

Frank Barry:  They had flip phones. That segment had flip phones [crosstalk 00:27:35], so they were like, "I don't even ..."

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah. One other thing you said there, Rick, and it's interesting, like, that the Millennials are generous proportionately to what they have and how they entered the workforce. But you've gotta think, though ... and you probably see this in other trends ... as they age, and their life circumstance kind of changes, that's gonna be good news for the church. Because ...

Frank Barry:  Absolutely.

Dean Sweetman:  ... if you start generous, the more you kind of go on in life, if you've got that seed of generosity, as your circumstances change for the better, that's gotta be better for the church, right?

Rick Dunham:  Well, there is a study that came out in the early '80s, 1980s, all about the Boomer Generation, and the fact that they lacked the generosity of the Greatest Generation. And it was a warning to charities to kind of put the seatbelt on, because you're gonna have a very rough ride when the Boomers mature.

Rick Dunham:  Two years ago, there was a study released that the Boomer Generation is now the most generous generation of all times. Kind of Bill Gates is a poster child for it. And I've always believed this at a convictional level that it really is life stage more than anything. I mean, when you're young and you're building a family, buying your first home, or whatever it is early in your career, you're not making the most money you'll ever make. But when you hit your 50s and 60s, kids are out of the house, you are at your high earning years. Sometimes people have their houses paid ... I mean, you just have more disposable income.

Frank Barry:  Absolutely.

Rick Dunham:  So the generous heart is able to express itself more than when you're young. It's a pretty simple fact.

Frank Barry:  I mean, Millennials are hitting, what, their 30s, give or take? I guess in ... maybe on the higher end?

Dean Sweetman:  I have two of them.

Frank Barry:  Yeah, like higher end, it might be like late 30s or so. So it's not too far off, really. I mean, in terms of ...

Rick Dunham:  No.

Frank Barry:  ... them being in a stage of life where they're probably earning some good money, and they've started a family, and all these kinds of things. So it's funny to talk about Millennials as if they're teenagers or something like that, right? Maybe 10 years ago when it all started it was a thing. But now it's like, they're in their 30s. They've left home and have careers and starting families and all that stuff is happening.

Frank Barry:  So I think that, to Dean's point, inspiring generosity in them early ... And that's probably true for even the three of us here. When we became Christians and learned about giving and all of that, it slowly grows over time. And you get more and more generous as you age.

Rick Dunham:  That's true. The other trend that could affect giving ... Just something you just said kind of sparked this, I don't know why. But is tax reform.

Frank Barry:  That's a big one.

Rick Dunham:  As you know, the Tax Reform Act was passed a year ago. And the standard deduction was raised to 12,000 for singles, 24,000 for couples, families. And they think something like ... that there's gonna be a decrease of 60, 70% of people who itemize deductions as a result. Which means that your charitable deductions no longer itemize. And the people won't need the itemization of the charitable tax deduction.

Rick Dunham:  We did a study earlier this year, and for the most part, I don't think it's gonna have any impact on giving, even here at year end. Where it may have an impact is next year, when people actually file and kind of figure it out. But even then, I am pretty bullish that that is a ... The only thing the charitable deduction helps is the ability to give more. So I don't think it's gonna impact the intent to give. The question is, will it impact the amount people are able to give, just because they don't get as much of a deduction off their taxes? If that makes sense.

Frank Barry:  Maybe to unpack that a little bit. So people are not gonna itemize, so the charitable portion, they just won't do it any more, since they're not itemizing anything else?

Rick Dunham:  Well, yeah, basically ... Yeah, so one of the things we're involved in is the Charitable Giving Coalition that's basically advocating on Capitol Hill for universal charitable deduction, so that whether you itemize or not, you can still off the top line reduce your taxes by ... basically take the amount you give to charity off of your income. Just off the top.

Frank Barry:  Just generally speaking ...

Rick Dunham:  Yeah, which ... you're able to do that will have ... We think that's the right move, because it incentivizes people to give.

Rick Dunham:  Sorry for all the stats.

Dean Sweetman:  That's great.

Rick Dunham:  The charitable deduction ... the estimate is that it costs the government about $50 billion in revenue, the charitable tax deduction. But it generates $410 billion in charity. So at the end of the day, you go, "Well, kind of ..."

Dean Sweetman:  And all the good work that happens, right?

Rick Dunham:  The last time I checked, 410 billion is bigger than 50 billion. So ...

Frank Barry:  I don't even need a calculator to do that math.

Rick Dunham:  No. And so, I do think it's all the good work. And that it actually funds. So it's gonna be an interesting thing to see if ... It won't affect the high net worth individuals. It's gonna be more of the middle income folks. So that's what's gonna be interesting.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah, I guess as we kind of wrap a little bit, just like big picture things, right? We have a lot of pastors and leaders listen to the podcast. And we've talked about some phenomenal things. If you feel like you could get a couple things across to them when it comes to what the current trends are, and what you see happening, how would you encourage them going forward around the area of generosity and how they can increase it?

Rick Dunham:  I am actually gonna start with, again, around the theology of this, is that to encourage pastors to not be shy.

Frank Barry:  I love it.

Rick Dunham:  Because you're not asking for yourself. You're not even asking for the church. And at the end of the day, God doesn't need our money. We all know that for a fact. What He wants is our heart, and know that there's a direct corelation between our heart and money. So the more that I can advocate for you to invest in kingdom work, the more by definition I know your heart's gonna follow after God.

Frank Barry:  [crosstalk 00:34:16]

Rick Dunham:  So really challenging the pastor to not be shy about challenging and inspiring his people to support God's kingdom work through His church. So that's number one.

Rick Dunham:  Number two, I do think ... and I'm gonna bang on about it ... is mobile. We are living in an age where mobile's dominating life. And unless we come to terms with that as a local church, and really make it easy for our congregants to give through mobile, then we're by definition going to eliminate a segment that may have the intention to give, but who literally not have the wherewithal to give.

Dean Sweetman:  You could be our spokesperson.

Frank Barry:  We're sending you a t-shirt right now.

Rick Dunham:  And since I'm just telling you the truth the way that Dave is telling us, that this is where people are living.

Dean Sweetman:  Maybe we gotta look at your data and build our company around good data.

Frank Barry:  Yeah, so good.

Dean Sweetman:  Absolutely phenom.

Frank Barry:  And I feel like we could talk about crypto a bunch more, but I don't think time permits. We don't wanna keep people forever.

Frank Barry:  But this is great. I mean, it's so helpful, Rick, to just talk about the data. And you have so much knowledge on just the actual data and the stats and the trends that are going on. I mean, we see it kind of in the usage, but we've not studied it deeply, right, like how you have. So really, really helpful.

Frank Barry:  Where can people go maybe to find some of these reports that you've been referencing?

Rick Dunham:  The first thing I would do is, if you go to, Giving USA has a special report on giving to religion that was released last year. And any pastor should read that. Because it's just really insightful in terms of what's happening within the church space. Just really helpful. Great information.

Rick Dunham:  Secondly, if you go to, you will land on all of our research. And there's a ton of there [inaudible 00:36:21] the church, et cetera.

Dean Sweetman:  Fantastic.

Frank Barry:  Very good. We'll make sure we put those in the show notes and link them in Facebook and all that stuff so people can find them.

Dean Sweetman:  Absolutely. Hey, Rick, it's been a pleasure. You're a real expert, and we love talking to experts.

Rick Dunham:  Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's been a blast.

Frank Barry:  Yeah, thanks, Rick. Appreciate it.

Dean Sweetman:  We are gonna have a little break over the Christmas New Year period.

Frank Barry:  We are. I mean, biggest couple of weeks of the year for what we do. But we all need some holiday time. And I think everyone's gonna be with their family and their church community and things like that over the next few weeks. So the show will be on hiatus.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah, the show's going ... we're coming back on January the 16th, is it?

Frank Barry:  Yup. January 16th. And folks can go to to watch any of the previous episodes. Check out all the content.

Dean Sweetman:  And then, kind of on the business side of things, all the guys are working hard. Our 60+ employees now are gonna be working very hard, especially these last week or so of the year, it's a very busy time for us. We see giving explode kind of after the Christmas moment, and then surging through to the 31st. So we'll all be on deck and making sure all that goes smooth. And we're gonna finish out our best year by far.

Frank Barry:  That's right. It's gonna be fun. Super exciting time. I mean, obviously, for our business, for the church, celebrating Jesus and being with our families, and just all the holiday festivities. You can probably see kind of there's Elf on the Shelf now over there. Elf on the Shelf is behind me. So having fun with the kids.

Frank Barry:  And so yeah, we wish everyone a great Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Dean Sweetman:  Absolutely.

Frank Barry:  And just a great holiday season.

Dean Sweetman:  Awesome. Hey, thanks, fam. We'll see you in the New Year. God bless, and have a great Christmas.

This week on TV, Rick Dunham, the Chief Executive Officer of Dunham+Company, joins Dean Sweetman and Frank Barry to talk about trends in charitable giving your church must-know. Rick has 40 years of experience in fundraising and marketing, and his work provides him with a front row seat to trends in giving in the United States and around the world.

During their conversation, they talk about:

  • Why your church must prepare for trends in giving
  • Rapid changes in online and mobile giving
  • Proven best practices for increasing giving online
  • The rise of cryptocurrency


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:

Publish date
December 19, 2018

5 Charitable Giving Trends Your Church Must-Know For 2019

No items found.

Related Blog Posts

Button Text
Tithely Pricing