by Ronald J. Meshanko, President, ERC
ERC Newsbriefs Excerpt, January 31, 1995

Who should you ask to support your congregational ministry? Recent fund raising statistics tell you where you should focus your fund rising efforts. Of the $126 billion philanthropic organizations received in 1992, $111 billion came from individuals ($8.5 billion of which was given in the form of bequests), $9 billion was contributed by foundations, and only $5 billion was donated by corporations. Furthermore, religious groups like your ministry receive 54 percent of all philanthropic dollars. This is not surprising since most charitable donors in the United States are church-goers. These statistics show that your ministry should focus its fund raising efforts on individuals, specifically, church-going individuals of affluence, persons who can relate to the purpose of your ministry and those who can make a major gift to support it.

Why do wealthy persons give to religious organizations like yours? The major motivation for supporting religious organizations is because these organizations are doing God■s work. The majority of wealthy donors are also motivated ■because religion is the most important thing in their lives■ and ■because being part of a religious organization gives meaning to their lives.■ Churchgoers also tend to give more if they have confidence in the way the money is spent and if they know more about the congregation■s financial decision-making, they tend to be more generous donors. Studies also indicate that smaller congregations tend to collect more from each member than larger ones do, most likely because the larger congregations are more impersonal and their members receive less individualized attention. The denomination■s teachings about stewardship also have a significant influence on congregational giving.

Keep these motivational factors and trends in mind as you begin to identify, evaluate and solicit major donor prospects for your congregational ministry.

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