JGA Blog

A Crisis of Faith: The Ripple Effect of Declines in Giving to Religion

January 13, 2021

There is a multi-dimensional challenge facing churches in America that has me concerned, and I think you should be as well. Given my background, it should not surprise you that I am concerned about this matter. (Prior to joining JGA as a senior consultant, I spent twenty-five years working in development for a religious institution, and during my twelve years with JGA, I have worked with more than fifty faith-based organizations.) The challenge is related to several troubling trends in the current U.S. religious landscape. As I will explain later, I think you also should be concerned . . . whether or not your fundraising is for a religious-affiliated organization.

My concern is threefold: 1) Giving to religious organizations as a percentage of total philanthropy is declining substantially; 2) participation in congregations is at a historic low; and 3) the changed religious practices brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic could have a continuing, long-term impact on congregations.

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New Stimulus Package Extends Charitable Deduction and Offers New Relief

December 28, 2020

Last night President Trump signed the new economic stimulus package that provides $900 billion in emergency relief funds. Although the discussion has understandably focused on the $600 stimulus checks, there are also significant provisions associated with charitable giving and the nonprofit sector.

 

Keep in mind that these are not the primary reasons a donor makes a gift. Your mission matters the most. Tax planning affects how they give, not why.

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Madam C.J. Walker and the AME Roots of her Gospel of Giving

December 10, 2020

We are pleased to offer this guest blog post by Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D. If you would like to learn more about Madam C.J. Walker and the tradition of Black philanthropy, listen to the webinar which we recently recorded with Dr. Freeman, Madam C.J. Walker's Gospel of Giving: Insights on the Past, Present, and Future of African American Generosity.

By Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D. 

In 1914, Walker told a local Indianapolis Freeman newspaper interviewer about the joy she experienced in giving to others. “She takes great stock in the theory that the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” observed the writer following their conversation. But Walker was not simply invoking II Corinthians 9:7, she was expressing deeply rooted convictions grounded in her faith commitment to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In fact, Walker’s religious identity had a significant impact on her philanthropy.

As I write in my book, Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow (University of Illinois, 2020), the AME Church played a powerful role in the transformation story of how this Black woman rose from a southern cotton plantation to live a life of faith and generosity that continues to inspire 100 years later. Walker’s early experiences in the AME Church excited her moral imagination, and guided much of her philanthropy for the rest of her life.

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Year-End Giving and The CARES ACT – Practical Implications for 2020

November 17, 2020

As we enter the year-end giving season, it is important to remember the practical implications of the tax law changes made earlier this year as a part of the economic stimulus packages in response to COVID-19. The CARES Act (passed into law on March 27, 2020) contains provisions that potentially affected the planning considerations of your donors for this year. 

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Engaging with Donors Virtually: Lessons Learned from a Pandemic

August 27, 2020

As we search for positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic, we might note that our tech skills have improved, or maybe we’ve mastered a new way to do second-grade math. But certainly, other lessons learned could have a longer shelf life, like unexpected opportunities with donors and prospects or adaptations on the fly that actually seem to work!

It is important to reflect on what ideas and practices have risen to the top as necessity forced us to try different ways to communicate and connect with one another. One thing is sure, large doses of flexibility and understanding were needed—and still are—to navigate the situations that seem to change by the minute in our professional and personal lives in the times we are in.

I recently hosted a webinar with Melanie Harmon, Senior VP of Advancement at Manchester College, focused on Frontline Fundraising and Events Go Virtual: A Look at Donor Engagement Techniques that explored some takeaways from the past few months for our work with donors. Here is an overview of some of those lessons and ideas on incorporating them into our work in the months and years to come.

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Utilizing Data to Guide Investments in your Fundraising Program

August 04, 2020

Data plays a vital role in the world of nonprofits. It is a critical tool that helps you make smarter decisions, and it can play a key role in supporting future investment in your efforts.

Your data tells a story that can help you identify key trends as you think towards the future. Sometimes determining what that story says can be a challenge, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by too much data. But with the right guidance, you can quickly gain clarity that can make decision making much easier. For more information on how others are using data in fundraising to achieve results, download our content collection,  How to Use Data to Improve Your Fundraising, produced by Chronicle Intelligence, a division of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, in partnership with JGA.

Successful organizations know that it’s important to use the data you have to guide decisions that will help you build stronger and deeper relationships with your donors and friends in the most efficient and effective way possible. Many are using that data to guide future investments in fundraising.

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Giving USA 2019: Implications for Higher Education

July 29, 2020

Giving USA Foundation has released annual estimates of charitable giving for 2019, showing that giving reached more than $449 billion—including $64.11 billion, or 14%, to education—amid a strong economy. Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2019  reports Americans gave $449.64 billion in 2019. This marks the third year of growth with the highest giving levels ever seen—over $400 billion—driven by individuals as the largest source of charitable gifts. Total giving reflects an increase of 4.2% in current dollars and of 2.4% in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2018. These numbers demonstrate a robust pattern of giving, bolstered by a strong economy.

Overall top 2019 trends included:

  1. Three out of four sources of giving increased. Giving by individuals, foundations, and corporations posted solid increases—including giving by corporations increasing by 13.4%—while giving by bequests remained largely flat.
  2. While individuals remained the largest source of giving, they notably comprised less than 70% of overall giving for the second year in a row since 1954. This does not mean that individual giving has decreased but rather that the mechanisms of giving have changed, with more giving by family foundations and bequests.
  3. Giving to education and every other subsector, except international affairs, grew—up from two subsectors experiencing growth in the previous year. This occurred both in terms of current dollars and inflation-adjusted dollars.
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Campaigning During A Crisis: How to Adjust and Plan

June 25, 2020

The nonprofit world, just like the world in general, has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing crises over the economy and race relations in the US. All of us involved in philanthropy are working to determine our course in the choppy and unchartered waters.

Recently JGA sponsored a webinar aimed at casting a guiding light on moving forward with a fundraising campaign in the midst of these challenges. The webinar, Campaigns and COVID-19: What the Pandemic Means for Your Campaign, brought the perspective of four guests representing organizations at different stages of campaigns: planning; leadership gifts/quiet phase; major gifts/public phase; and campaign closure.

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Giving USA Reports a Robust Year for 2019 Giving

June 16, 2020

The environment for charitable giving was favorable in 2019. Economic strength underpinned very positive giving patterns and precedes potential challenges that may occur in 2020, considering the economic, health, political, and social challenges prevailing to date. However, positive trends in 2019 help establish momentum and a strong base of support to which nonprofits can strive to return.

Giving USA Foundation has released annual estimates of charitable giving for 2019, showing that giving reached more than $449 billion amid a strong economy. Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2019  reports Americans gave $449.64 billion in 2019. This marks the third year of growth with the highest giving levels ever seen—over $400 billion—driven by individuals as the largest source of charitable gifts. Total giving reflects an increase of 4.2% in current dollars and of 2.4% in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2018. These numbers demonstrate a robust pattern of giving, bolstered by a strong economy.

Total US Giving 2019

In addition to the impacts of the economy and other challenges this year, political giving trends may be another relevant factor. Historically, political giving represents a low share of all giving and has not had substantial impact on giving across subsectors—so the 2020 election is not anticipated to have a major effect. However, due to high engagement in advocacy, awareness of current issues, and unusual circumstances in 2020, this trend may shift in this election cycle.

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Learning to Change

June 04, 2020

Like you, we at JGA have discovered new ways of doing that which only 90 days ago might have seemed unlikely—or unnecessary. The definition of what is necessary has changed so dramatically. And, we’ve all changed, adjusted ,and innovated in ways that would have in February felt unimaginable.

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