Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published an article discussing statistics on charitable giving.  Yesterday, the Chronicle of Philanthropy released its “Philanthropy 400” and noted a significant decrease in charitable giving.

Given the state of the economy over the last few years, I was actually surprised that the numbers weren’t worse.

Here are a few excerpts from the WSJ article:

Donations fell 3.6% to $303.75 billion last year, down from $315 billion in 2008, according to the latest Giving USA study, released Wednesday. In 2008, they were down 2%.

To be clear, charitable donations were down 2% in 2008 and down an additional 3.6% in 2009. That’s pretty tough. But, wait…there’s more.

Still, giving fell across most sectors last year, notably to religious organizations, which account for more than a third of total donations, the largest share. Giving to such charities dropped by about 1% in current dollars, the first recorded decline in the sector since 1969, and as a percentage of contributions fell to 33% from 50% in 1970.

Other sectors that typically receive strong support also declined, including education (down 3.6%) and arts, culture and humanities (down 2.4%), while giving to human services and health organizations rose by 2.3% and 3.8%.

What struck me as significant was that giving to religious organizations experienced the first decline in donations since 1969.  That is roughly 40 years of increasing or steady donations.

I know my church and others have had to cut budgets to match the decrease in donations.  This has included cuts in ministries, delays in capital improvements/investments and, cutting staff.

Here’s my question?

Does a decrease in monetary donations have to mean that churches and ministries do less in their communities?

What do you think?

If your church or ministry has seen a decrease in donations, how are you responding?

Help me brainstorm how we can do more with less!

Greg Simmons

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