Generosity

The State of Giving 2020-2021

2020-2021 were years unlike any other. We experienced the onset of a global pandemic. Remote work became the new norm. Cryptocurrency boomed, NFT’s were bought and sold for millions of dollars, and we officially entered the metaverse. In this article, we’ll look at ECFA’s findings regarding giving from 2020-2021–including reasons for optimism and how to prepare for the future.

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

2020-2021 were years unlike any other. We experienced the onset of a global pandemic. Remote work became the new norm. Cryptocurrency boomed, NFT’s were bought and sold for millions of dollars, and we officially entered the metaverse

And in the midst of radical change, churches continued to thrive. 

The ECFA is an organization dedicated to creating a greater level of trust among churches and nonprofits. One of the things they do to encourage more responsible and effective stewardship is to research and publish findings on giving among their membership. 

In 2020-2021, their annual report reported some surprising findings. While 2020 saw an initial dip in giving, by the end of the year giving had increased 2.5% overall–despite a historic recession and plenty of pessimism. 

The state of giving in church and other non-profits is looking good. 

In this article, we’ll look at ECFA’s findings regarding giving from 2020-2021–including reasons for optimism and how to prepare for the future. 

Giving from 2019-2021

In 2020, generosity remained high. According ECFA’s report, State of Giving:2021, their members received a total of $15.5 billion in cash giving. 

But this demonstration of generosity wasn’t void of specific trends: larger churches, for example, saw a greater increase–2.8% compared to an average of 2.5%. And certain ministries also saw a higher increase in giving. Cash donations to discipleship, for example, increased by a full 12.9% from 2019-2020. 

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of giving over the past three years. 

Ministries with the Most Increase

While giving increased across the board for ministries, certain ministries received more than others. Not surprisingly, ministries that may have been difficult to sustain during lockdown–such as evangelism and education–saw a slight dip in giving (evangelism decreased by 2.3% and K-12 education dipped by 7.9%). However, most ministries saw an increase in giving from 2019-2020. The five ministries that saw the most significant increase in giving from 2019-2020 included:

  • Discipleship, with a 12.9% increase. 
  • Camps and conferences, with a 21.3% increase. 
  • Anti-human trafficking, with a 9.5% increase. 
  • Rescue missions and homeless, with a 15.4% increase. 
  • Children’s Homes, with an 11.5% increase. 

It’s not clear why these ministries received the most. However, you’ll notice some trends–such as a specific focus on caring for marginalized people, and encouraging growth within the church. 

Churches with the Most Increase, According to Size

Another finding from the ECFA report was that churches that are larger tended to experience a greater percentage increase in giving. 

For example, churches with annual revenues of $20 million or higher–and more than 8,000 members–experienced a 6% increase in giving from 2019-2020. 

However, churches with annual revenues of less than $20 million–and less than 8,000 member–experienced slight decrease in giving overall from 2019-2020. 

Churches and Ministries with the Most Increase, According to Age

Just as larger churches tended to fare better financially from 2019-2020, younger churches also tended to do better. 

According to the report, churches and ministries under 10 years of age experienced “double digit growth” in giving from 2019-2020. In fact, these churches experienced an annualized growth of 12.8% over the last five years. 

Conversely, churches and ministries that were 25 years and older experienced an annualized growth of less than 1% over the same period. 

That being said, churches of every age had “positive growth” from 2019-2020. 

Church Growth Compared to Inflation & Wage Growth

In 2020, inflation grew at a 1.2% rate (Followed by an historic spike of 6.2% in 2021). Wage growth dropped by 2.9%, the highest drop in over 10 years. The GDP growth rate dropped by 3.5%. 

Finally, consumer sentiment–or how optimistic people generally feel about their own finances and the economy–plummeted by 12.9%. 

Those factors don’t create an encouraging landscape for church giving. And yet, giving thrived. 

In 2020…

  • There was a 3.8% increase in giving from all sources to all U.S. charities. 
  • There was a 1% increase in giving across all individuals. 
  • And the U.S. rate of personal savings went up 16.6%–the highest in 10 years. 

The Future of Giving 

Over the past two years, we’ve discovered that generosity and giving are a lot more resilient than we could have ever imagined. At the same time, our world has changed forever as a result of the global pandemic. The next few years still look uncertain, and we can’t predict the future of giving with absolute accuracy. 

Still, there have been a few encouraging trends from 2019-2021–including general optimism and lots of financial saving. 

Optimism is high

In 2020, the ECFA did three identical surveys of 1,892 churches and 2,317 non-profits. In May, August, and November, they asked, “What is your outlook about total cash gifts/donations to your church or ministry, excluding one-time extraordinary gifts, over the next 3 months?”

The responses were astounding. 

Across all three surveys, more than half of respondents were optimistic about the future. In fact, 67% of churches demonstrated hope in the face of intense uncertainty and great difficulties. 

The surveys were repeated with a different demographic (562 churches and 730 non-profits) in early 2021, and got the same response–64% of respondents said they were optimistic about the future. When the survey was repeated again at the end of 2021, optimism remained high (65%). 

Within different ministry categories, there were marked differences. For example, at the end of 2021, 88% of pregnancy resource centers were optimistic about the future; 84% of evangelism ministries were optimistic; 70% of community development centers were optimistic; and 65% of individual churches were optimistic. 

Why does this matter? Because optimism has concrete benefits and outcomes. 

When our leaders are optimistic about the future, we’re more likely to feel the same. In fact, an article published by the Harvard Business Review showed that the way leaders behave under stress has an enormous impact on how people react to difficult situations. For example, a pilot who is cool headed has the ability to keep everyone on the plane calm as well–even in a dangerous situation. 

Likewise, there is a reported “financial upside” of being optimistic. People who are optimistic are more likely to set aside money to meet a goal and seek out good advice. They are also more likely to do better in their careers.  

Finally, optimism is better for mental and physical health–reducing the risk of anxiety and depression, and promoting healthier behaviors and even improving immunity in some cases. 

In other words, when our leaders are optimistic about the future of giving, we’re more likely to feel the same. And as a result, we’re more likely to keep engaging in generosity. 

Consumers are saving

The Coronavirus pandemic was certainly devastating for many. Small businesses shut down by the thousands. In fact, Yelp reported 140,104 temporary closures at the start of the pandemic, ultimately resulting in over 100,000 permanent closures. Entire industries were essentially put on hold (Not surprisingly, airlines and travel/leisure were hit especially hard). And the employment rate plummeted. In February of 2021, unemployment was still 8.5 million less than it had been the previous year. 

All of that said, some of the economic downsides of COVID-19 resulted in a “silver lining” for some. While businesses were shuttered and consumers stayed home for weeks–or months–on end, consumers stayed home and saved their money on expenses like shopping, gas, eating in restaurants, travel, and entertainment. 

As consumer spending fell by 12.6%, the savings rate went from 12.7% to 32.2%. Of course, that statistic primarily represents consumers who had the luxury of saving during the pandemic. Still, higher savings can mean a higher potential for giving and generosity.

Cash reserves and overall revenue are growing

Many people saved cash during the pandemic. But what about churches and nonprofits? 

More importantly, did churches and nonprofits dip into their cash reserves? 

The answer is surprising. While churches and nonprofit organizations may have touched their reserves when the pandemic hit, they were unlikely to do so in 2021. 

According to ECFA’s report, 65% of churches didn’t touch their reserves in 2021. 33% of churches used some of their reserves. And only 2% of churches used all of their cash in 2021. 

Again, some ministries were more likely than others to save their cash. 80% of rescue missions and homeless ministries were able to refrain from touching their reserves, for example. Likewise, 77% of pregnancy centers and 78% of relief and development centers didn’t touch their cash reserves. 

Likewise, many churches and nonprofits were actually able to build up their cash reserves in 2021. One-third of respondents to ECFA’s survey said that they were able to grow their reserves in 2021. That included 34% of churches and 31% of nonprofits. 

Finally, 59% of respondents said that their overall revenue was growing in 2021. 28% said they were “holding even.” And 13% of respondents said they were declining. Most importantly, 69% said they were optimistic about cash giving in 2022. 

How to Plan for the Future 

From a statistical point of view, the future of giving looks good. Giving remained stable throughout 2020-2021. Many donors saved cash. And churches and organizations were able to maintain–and grow–their cash reserves.

Still, churches need to be proactive to make the most of generosity in 2022. 

Here are three strategies to help churches and other ministries encourage and grow giving in the coming 12 months. 

Invite church members and donors into your mission

By making regular donations or giving one-time gifts to your organization, your church members become essential partners in your mission and ministry. How you communicate that reality is essential to your effectiveness. 

To invite others into your mission:

  • Be clear about how where resources will go. As a church, you may have a far-reaching and expansive mission. You may want to see community transformation, serve the poor, reach unreached people groups, and build a discipleship program. Describe specific ways that cash gifts can bless your church, your community, and specific individuals. 
  • Empower church members and donors. As mentioned above, church members and donors are partners with your mission. Make that clear when you communicate giving needs. This is an opportunity for them to become a crucial part of what God is doing on Earth. 
  • Be creative. A video message, sermon, or even social media campaign can all be effective ways to get churches members excited about partnering with you financially. Be creative about how you communicate needs.

Talk about financial stewardship

Giving is a Biblically-based aspect of being a good steward that brings great blessing on the giver (2 Corinthians 9:6). Don’t shy away from speaking about finances and generosity. Help your church members to become good stewards of their finances by teaching them Biblical principles for saving and spending. 

Use a digital giving platform 

Finally, one of the best ways to encourage giving at your church is to make it convenient and accessible. 

In 2022, more people than ever are accustomed to using platforms on mobile and desktop to pay their bills, make purchases, and manage their finances. In fact, over half of all consumers worldwide have used a “fintech” (financial technology) platform. That’s a massive increase from 33% in 2017. 

Using a digital platform that can help your church members automate payments, pay on the go, and use multiple forms of payment to give. 

Giving with Tithe.ly

Tithe.ly is a digital tool that helps your church members to give in a way that’s easy and frictionless. With Tithe.ly, church members can give in a variety of ways, including text-to-give, giving on an app, giving on desktop, giving with a check, and even giving with crypto. Ultimately, Tithe.ly makes it simple to be generous. 

Not only that, but Tithe.ly offers a suite of tools for your church staff to manage finances, service planning, communications, and more. To learn more about Tithel.y, click here

podcast transcript

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H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Blog

The State of Giving 2020-2021

The State of Giving 2020-2021

2020-2021 were years unlike any other. We experienced the onset of a global pandemic. Remote work became the new norm. Cryptocurrency boomed, NFT’s were bought and sold for millions of dollars, and we officially entered the metaverse. In this article, we’ll look at ECFA’s findings regarding giving from 2020-2021–including reasons for optimism and how to prepare for the future.

Show notes

2020-2021 were years unlike any other. We experienced the onset of a global pandemic. Remote work became the new norm. Cryptocurrency boomed, NFT’s were bought and sold for millions of dollars, and we officially entered the metaverse

And in the midst of radical change, churches continued to thrive. 

The ECFA is an organization dedicated to creating a greater level of trust among churches and nonprofits. One of the things they do to encourage more responsible and effective stewardship is to research and publish findings on giving among their membership. 

In 2020-2021, their annual report reported some surprising findings. While 2020 saw an initial dip in giving, by the end of the year giving had increased 2.5% overall–despite a historic recession and plenty of pessimism. 

The state of giving in church and other non-profits is looking good. 

In this article, we’ll look at ECFA’s findings regarding giving from 2020-2021–including reasons for optimism and how to prepare for the future. 

Giving from 2019-2021

In 2020, generosity remained high. According ECFA’s report, State of Giving:2021, their members received a total of $15.5 billion in cash giving. 

But this demonstration of generosity wasn’t void of specific trends: larger churches, for example, saw a greater increase–2.8% compared to an average of 2.5%. And certain ministries also saw a higher increase in giving. Cash donations to discipleship, for example, increased by a full 12.9% from 2019-2020. 

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of giving over the past three years. 

Ministries with the Most Increase

While giving increased across the board for ministries, certain ministries received more than others. Not surprisingly, ministries that may have been difficult to sustain during lockdown–such as evangelism and education–saw a slight dip in giving (evangelism decreased by 2.3% and K-12 education dipped by 7.9%). However, most ministries saw an increase in giving from 2019-2020. The five ministries that saw the most significant increase in giving from 2019-2020 included:

  • Discipleship, with a 12.9% increase. 
  • Camps and conferences, with a 21.3% increase. 
  • Anti-human trafficking, with a 9.5% increase. 
  • Rescue missions and homeless, with a 15.4% increase. 
  • Children’s Homes, with an 11.5% increase. 

It’s not clear why these ministries received the most. However, you’ll notice some trends–such as a specific focus on caring for marginalized people, and encouraging growth within the church. 

Churches with the Most Increase, According to Size

Another finding from the ECFA report was that churches that are larger tended to experience a greater percentage increase in giving. 

For example, churches with annual revenues of $20 million or higher–and more than 8,000 members–experienced a 6% increase in giving from 2019-2020. 

However, churches with annual revenues of less than $20 million–and less than 8,000 member–experienced slight decrease in giving overall from 2019-2020. 

Churches and Ministries with the Most Increase, According to Age

Just as larger churches tended to fare better financially from 2019-2020, younger churches also tended to do better. 

According to the report, churches and ministries under 10 years of age experienced “double digit growth” in giving from 2019-2020. In fact, these churches experienced an annualized growth of 12.8% over the last five years. 

Conversely, churches and ministries that were 25 years and older experienced an annualized growth of less than 1% over the same period. 

That being said, churches of every age had “positive growth” from 2019-2020. 

Church Growth Compared to Inflation & Wage Growth

In 2020, inflation grew at a 1.2% rate (Followed by an historic spike of 6.2% in 2021). Wage growth dropped by 2.9%, the highest drop in over 10 years. The GDP growth rate dropped by 3.5%. 

Finally, consumer sentiment–or how optimistic people generally feel about their own finances and the economy–plummeted by 12.9%. 

Those factors don’t create an encouraging landscape for church giving. And yet, giving thrived. 

In 2020…

  • There was a 3.8% increase in giving from all sources to all U.S. charities. 
  • There was a 1% increase in giving across all individuals. 
  • And the U.S. rate of personal savings went up 16.6%–the highest in 10 years. 

The Future of Giving 

Over the past two years, we’ve discovered that generosity and giving are a lot more resilient than we could have ever imagined. At the same time, our world has changed forever as a result of the global pandemic. The next few years still look uncertain, and we can’t predict the future of giving with absolute accuracy. 

Still, there have been a few encouraging trends from 2019-2021–including general optimism and lots of financial saving. 

Optimism is high

In 2020, the ECFA did three identical surveys of 1,892 churches and 2,317 non-profits. In May, August, and November, they asked, “What is your outlook about total cash gifts/donations to your church or ministry, excluding one-time extraordinary gifts, over the next 3 months?”

The responses were astounding. 

Across all three surveys, more than half of respondents were optimistic about the future. In fact, 67% of churches demonstrated hope in the face of intense uncertainty and great difficulties. 

The surveys were repeated with a different demographic (562 churches and 730 non-profits) in early 2021, and got the same response–64% of respondents said they were optimistic about the future. When the survey was repeated again at the end of 2021, optimism remained high (65%). 

Within different ministry categories, there were marked differences. For example, at the end of 2021, 88% of pregnancy resource centers were optimistic about the future; 84% of evangelism ministries were optimistic; 70% of community development centers were optimistic; and 65% of individual churches were optimistic. 

Why does this matter? Because optimism has concrete benefits and outcomes. 

When our leaders are optimistic about the future, we’re more likely to feel the same. In fact, an article published by the Harvard Business Review showed that the way leaders behave under stress has an enormous impact on how people react to difficult situations. For example, a pilot who is cool headed has the ability to keep everyone on the plane calm as well–even in a dangerous situation. 

Likewise, there is a reported “financial upside” of being optimistic. People who are optimistic are more likely to set aside money to meet a goal and seek out good advice. They are also more likely to do better in their careers.  

Finally, optimism is better for mental and physical health–reducing the risk of anxiety and depression, and promoting healthier behaviors and even improving immunity in some cases. 

In other words, when our leaders are optimistic about the future of giving, we’re more likely to feel the same. And as a result, we’re more likely to keep engaging in generosity. 

Consumers are saving

The Coronavirus pandemic was certainly devastating for many. Small businesses shut down by the thousands. In fact, Yelp reported 140,104 temporary closures at the start of the pandemic, ultimately resulting in over 100,000 permanent closures. Entire industries were essentially put on hold (Not surprisingly, airlines and travel/leisure were hit especially hard). And the employment rate plummeted. In February of 2021, unemployment was still 8.5 million less than it had been the previous year. 

All of that said, some of the economic downsides of COVID-19 resulted in a “silver lining” for some. While businesses were shuttered and consumers stayed home for weeks–or months–on end, consumers stayed home and saved their money on expenses like shopping, gas, eating in restaurants, travel, and entertainment. 

As consumer spending fell by 12.6%, the savings rate went from 12.7% to 32.2%. Of course, that statistic primarily represents consumers who had the luxury of saving during the pandemic. Still, higher savings can mean a higher potential for giving and generosity.

Cash reserves and overall revenue are growing

Many people saved cash during the pandemic. But what about churches and nonprofits? 

More importantly, did churches and nonprofits dip into their cash reserves? 

The answer is surprising. While churches and nonprofit organizations may have touched their reserves when the pandemic hit, they were unlikely to do so in 2021. 

According to ECFA’s report, 65% of churches didn’t touch their reserves in 2021. 33% of churches used some of their reserves. And only 2% of churches used all of their cash in 2021. 

Again, some ministries were more likely than others to save their cash. 80% of rescue missions and homeless ministries were able to refrain from touching their reserves, for example. Likewise, 77% of pregnancy centers and 78% of relief and development centers didn’t touch their cash reserves. 

Likewise, many churches and nonprofits were actually able to build up their cash reserves in 2021. One-third of respondents to ECFA’s survey said that they were able to grow their reserves in 2021. That included 34% of churches and 31% of nonprofits. 

Finally, 59% of respondents said that their overall revenue was growing in 2021. 28% said they were “holding even.” And 13% of respondents said they were declining. Most importantly, 69% said they were optimistic about cash giving in 2022. 

How to Plan for the Future 

From a statistical point of view, the future of giving looks good. Giving remained stable throughout 2020-2021. Many donors saved cash. And churches and organizations were able to maintain–and grow–their cash reserves.

Still, churches need to be proactive to make the most of generosity in 2022. 

Here are three strategies to help churches and other ministries encourage and grow giving in the coming 12 months. 

Invite church members and donors into your mission

By making regular donations or giving one-time gifts to your organization, your church members become essential partners in your mission and ministry. How you communicate that reality is essential to your effectiveness. 

To invite others into your mission:

  • Be clear about how where resources will go. As a church, you may have a far-reaching and expansive mission. You may want to see community transformation, serve the poor, reach unreached people groups, and build a discipleship program. Describe specific ways that cash gifts can bless your church, your community, and specific individuals. 
  • Empower church members and donors. As mentioned above, church members and donors are partners with your mission. Make that clear when you communicate giving needs. This is an opportunity for them to become a crucial part of what God is doing on Earth. 
  • Be creative. A video message, sermon, or even social media campaign can all be effective ways to get churches members excited about partnering with you financially. Be creative about how you communicate needs.

Talk about financial stewardship

Giving is a Biblically-based aspect of being a good steward that brings great blessing on the giver (2 Corinthians 9:6). Don’t shy away from speaking about finances and generosity. Help your church members to become good stewards of their finances by teaching them Biblical principles for saving and spending. 

Use a digital giving platform 

Finally, one of the best ways to encourage giving at your church is to make it convenient and accessible. 

In 2022, more people than ever are accustomed to using platforms on mobile and desktop to pay their bills, make purchases, and manage their finances. In fact, over half of all consumers worldwide have used a “fintech” (financial technology) platform. That’s a massive increase from 33% in 2017. 

Using a digital platform that can help your church members automate payments, pay on the go, and use multiple forms of payment to give. 

Giving with Tithe.ly

Tithe.ly is a digital tool that helps your church members to give in a way that’s easy and frictionless. With Tithe.ly, church members can give in a variety of ways, including text-to-give, giving on an app, giving on desktop, giving with a check, and even giving with crypto. Ultimately, Tithe.ly makes it simple to be generous. 

Not only that, but Tithe.ly offers a suite of tools for your church staff to manage finances, service planning, communications, and more. To learn more about Tithel.y, click here

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