Giving to Churches in Uncertain Times

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Giving in 2009 is presenting major challenges and opportunities for most churches in America.

It was, and still is, a time of great economic turmoil--a barrage of bad news--everyone was affected by it

That, according to Mr. Pat Graham, President of Cargill Associates, Inc., a Christian stewardship development firm located in Ft. Worth, Texas which has helped churches develop their donor base and teach generosity and giving for more than thirty years. Working closely with Catholic, Evangelical, and Protestant churches across the U.S. in 2008, they have been carefully monitoring the financial impact of the economy on church giving. According to their year-end research and analysis report, along with the recently released report on giving by The Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University, they have concluded many churches are facing the prospect of "needing a bailout" themselves.

"Yet," says Mr. Graham, "the interesting thing is this--most of the churches we've worked with in the fall of '08 saw record giving levels achieved, right during the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression." When asked to explain why some churches are achieving record giving levels while others are struggling, Dr. Steve McSwain, senior vice president at Cargill and author of The Giving Myths, explains, "The difference is intentionality. History has taught us that churches and church leaders who make decisions motivated by faith always fare better than those who make decisions motivated by fear. If ever there was a time to teach giving, to encourage generosity, to step out in faith, now is the time."

According to company officials, Cargill Associates conducted capital campaigns and annual giving campaigns in churches of all denominations during the fall months of 2008. "It was, and still is, a time of great economic turmoil--a barrage of bad news--everyone was affected by it," says Graham. "Yet, the churches we worked with saw recorded pledges to capital causes average 2.2 times the church's annual income in three-year commitments."

But, according to Graham, although this was remarkable, it still was not the most significant discovery the company made. He explains, "Those same churches--get this--saw an average increase of 16% over the previous year in annual pledging for their mission and ministries. Now, that is extraordinary," says Graham. "We decided to assemble this positive report and offer it as a guide to churches and church leaders during these tough times."

According to company representatives, both their report and their suggestions for churches are free of charge and available to anyone. "This information will be useful to churches and church leaders," says McSwain. "In fact, any church looking for guidance in giving, how to survive these economic times, or considering a major capital project and wondering whether now is the time to go forward--this information is vital."

Cargill Associates, Inc. is a stewardship development firm located in Ft. Worth, Texas. The firm has assisted churches in raising billions for charitable causes. For more information or your free copy of the Giving Report, visit: http://www.cargillassociates.com, or, call Cargill Associates, Inc. at 800-433-2233.

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Mr. Malcolm "Pat" Graham, Pres

Dr. Steve McSwain
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