the shape of leadership

Charitable Giving Has Fallen

Gallup Poll finds sharp decline in donations

Charitable giving in America has declined, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Though a majority of U.S. adults have made a charitable donation in the past year, the share has fallen 10 percentage points since the last poll in 2017, from 83% to 73%.

The new figure represents the lowest percentage of givers since Gallup started polling on the question in 2002. The previous low was 79%, which was during the recession in 2009.

Giving is down across all income levels, though declines were sharpest among lower-income households. The share of donors making less than $40,000 dropped 17 percentage points, from 73% in 2017 to 56% today.

Donations fell 12 percentage points among those making $40,000–$99,999 (from 90% to 78%), and 5 percentage points among those making $100,000 or more (from 92% to 87%).

The new figure represents the lowest percentage of givers since Gallup started polling on the question.

Volunteering has also declined since 2017, from 64% to 58%.

When the latest poll was conducted in April, nearly 3 in 10 respondents (29%) said they had contributed to relief efforts related to COVID-19.

Despite the financial woes associated with the pandemic, people across all income levels are optimistic about giving more. A quarter of all respondents (25%) expected to increase giving over the next 12 months, while only 7% planned to give less.

Forty percent of those making more than $100,000 annually said they would increase giving, and just 3% anticipated scaling back contributions.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, difficulties do have a way of reminding people of the needs around them. And for Christians, giving even during lean times is biblical.

In 2 Corinthians 8:2-3, Paul described the Macedonian Christians this way: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”

Church leaders today can encourage their congregants, as Paul did, to “also excel in this grace of giving” (verse 7).

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