Evangelical Foundations See Surge in Donations
Wills said that in 2011, his foundation distributed $500 million through 7,200 grants to 12,000 organizations, almost all of which were small or church-based charities.
"We don't sit on donations for very long," he said. "There is nearly a complete turnover of funds at the NCF every two years."
And not all small charities are facing shrinking donations. While drug rehabilitation and prison ministry saw decreases, ECFA noted significant increases in giving to child sponsorship (up 24.3 percent), orphan care (up 20.5 percent), and adoption (up 14.7 percent) in 2010. Busby believes the changes are due to the varying levels of promotion such causes received among churches and nonprofits.
Giving to specific causes usually parallels awareness, he said. "If you look at the ministries, conferences, and conventions centered on adoption [today], they're drawing in huge crowds and rallying [evangelicals] around change in that one area."
As to the sustainability of increases in donor-advised giving, Leonard said that remains to be seen.
"After baby boomers transition to old age and leave the workplace, there will inevitably be less money going through the foundation pipeline, but their wealth will be passed on in various ways," he said. "They will pass it on to the younger generation, which historically has given less but is likely to give more as time passes and their income increases."
Wills believes giving to donor-advised funds will remain strong despite economic woes.
"While giving is pretty standard among the younger generation, they are more spiritually engaged than ever," he said. "This is a generation of people that, once they begin to accumulate wealth, in 10 years will be giving significantly and will want to be highly connected with where and how they are giving."
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Previous Christianity Today articles about money and business include:
Pink Stink: Komen Drops Planned Parenthood Support | Move comes after Bible spat, debate on breast-cancer activism. (January 31, 2012)
Pastors Double-Dare the IRS | Observers suggest that punishing church endorsements will be unlikely. (December 12, 2011)
Missionary Money: Easier to Give, Worth Less than Ever | The new challenges of missions donations. (October 25, 2011)