William G. Enright, executive director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University says that evidence suggests American congregations can be divided roughly into three categories: one-third who haven’t been affected much by the recession, one-third whose budgets have remained the same, and one-third whose budgets have shrunk.
And, Enright notes, even those congregations that are faring well should be careful, as trends show that religious giving has declined as a percentage of overall philanthropy and that “devout donors” may be motivated by faith but don’t necessarily give to religious institutions. The lesson, Enright believes, is to tell a story of transformation rather than just ask for money. “Increasingly, people want to know, ‘What difference does my gift make?’” he said.
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