Faith-Based Giving Remains Strong Despite Economic Downturn

NASHVILLE (BP) — The American economy may have recorded the largest contraction in its history over the past few months (a 32.9 percent reduction in GDP, to be exact). But charitable giving has remained strong even as the financial crisis has caused a great need for it.

survey of more than 1,000 donors indicates that overall giving to faith-based nonprofits is likely to hold steady or even increase through the remainder of 2020. The online study was conducted by Paul Virts of DickersonBakker, a marketing firm that helps faith-based non-profits reach their fundraising goals, and shows that 60 percent of donors surveyed indicated their giving would remain the same in 2020 as in previous years, and another 25 percent hope to give even more.

Virts said he conducted the survey after hearing from clients worried about the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. He paraphrased the concerns expressed by many of them: “This seems like a terrible time with the pandemic. People are fearful. Should we really be fundraising or should we back away?”

Virts called the survey results “heartening” and said they should put some minds at ease.

“We’ve worked with ministries for 35 years,” he said of DickersonBakker, which has worked with rescue missions, broadcast ministries, Christian schools, the Salvation Army and many others. “We have found that giving is resilient. The commitment to Christ makes a huge difference in people’s giving.”

He said giving to ministries is not like giving to secular causes.

“Their approach is a transactional approach,” he said. “I’ll give you $10 a month if you’ll give me a coffee mug. But for Christian ministry, the key driver is ‘What has Christ called us to do to reach out to those who are in need.’”

The stability of giving to faith groups is borne out in the Southern Baptist Convention. After a sharp drop in Cooperative Program (CP) giving in May and June, July’s number rebounded considerably. CP is Southern Baptists’ unified giving channel to support local, state, national and international missions and ministries.

Tommy Green, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, sees similar signs of optimism in his state’s giving.

“Overall, everybody’s encouraged,” Green said. “We’re only like 1.7 percent under where we were last year in our overall giving.”

Green said April saw a significant decrease in giving for churches, but that May, June and July have been strong for most churches, though some are struggling.

“Our churches — you get mixed reports,” Green said. “Some churches are at budget and beyond budget, while others have a 10 percent or 20 percent decrease. We have been helping our churches with resources. Through the months of March to July, through loans and grants, we have put out about $950,000. It’s been used to help salary support and things of that nature to cover gaps in their giving.

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Source: Baptist Press