Does Less Have to Mean Less?

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!

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