Charitable giving is up

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | February 5, 2015

Keep it up with donation to Bishop’s Appeal

When it comes to charitable giving, Americans are tops. Every year, we step up to the plate and deliver graciously to important causes.

As the Diocese of Green Bay prepares to launch the Bishop’s Appeal 2015, a new report, issued by Atlas of Giving, a Dallas-based group that provides monthly estimates of charitable giving, claims that donations to charities were up by 9.3 percent in 2014.

According to the Atlas year-end report (found at atlasofgiving.com), Americans gave a record $456.7 billion to charity in 2014. The nearly 10 percent increase from 2013 was attributed in part to favorable economic factors that drive giving, an increase in the number of nonprofit organizations and advances in fundraising technology and techniques.

In a press release, Rob Mitchell, CEO of the Atlas of Giving, said that charitable giving in the U.S. “is primarily a function of specific economic and demographic factors.” What were the factors that propelled giving in 2014?

  • Lower unemployment numbers.
  • Double digit growth in stock prices.
  • Lower inflation leading to more discretionary income.
  • Improved consumer confidence.
  • Historically low interest rates.
  • Lower energy prices.

Atlas reports that high tech fundraising is boosting charitable giving. Online giving, crowd funding and use of algorithms to screen prospective donors are just a few modern ways charities use to raise their revenues.

Religion is historically the largest recipient of donations, averaging around 33 percent of all charitable giving nationally. In 2014, giving to religious organizations grew at a rate of only 6.4 percent.

These numbers seem to correspond with donations made to the Bishop’s Appeal.

The 2013 Bishop’s Appeal had a goal of $5.1 million. It raised $5.416 million, with just over 32,000 gifts. The 2014 Bishop’s Appeal also had a goal of $5.1 million and it raised $5,517 million. That was a $101,000 increase despite fewer donors than in 2013.

While 2014 was a banner year for charitable giving, Atlas predicts a sluggish 2015.

“The Atlas projects that giving could actually drop from 2014 levels by as much as 3.2 percent,” said the Atlas report. “The forecast cites an anticipated stock market correction, along with an expected rise in interest rates in the second half of 2015 as primary drivers of an upcoming downturn in giving.”

One factor that helps charities reach their goal, in good and bad times, is a strong track record of proven service. Catholics who contribute to the Bishop’s Appeal know that their donations will benefit not only the church’s mission of sharing the good news (through services such as training programs for church leaders and educational workshops for the laity) but also of helping people in need through services offered by Catholic Charities.

For people of faith, giving of their wealth is more than an act of kindness, it is following in the footsteps of Christ, as described by St. Paul to the Corinthians: “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich,” (2 Cor 8:9).

This year, let’s do what we can to help the church build disciples of Christ by donating generously to the Bishop’s Appeal. Our track record of charitable giving is outstanding. Let’s make it another banner year.

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