Sponsor of an annual conference for Christian philanthropists shares his thoughts, with a candid assessment of fundamental shifts in the nature of Christian giving.
The Gathering (EIN 75-2726170 Form 990) is an annual conference of philanthropists who give a minimum of $200,000 annually to Christian causes (or have the potential to do so). Its president, Fred Smith, offered some views on the future of giving that I thought were worth passing on, as many seem relevant to philanthropy as a whole. He also has a whopper of a conclusion about a major change in the basis for Christian giving whose full implications are difficult to assess.
Some of the points relate to the difference between giving to churches and parachurches, which are organizations like World Vision that aren't tied to specific denominations or congregations and raise their money from contributions, just like large scale secular charities.
- An increase of giving by women, which will challenge assumptions about measurement, results, impact, goals and transactional relationships.
- Increased attention to relief and development, the poor, and microenterprise development among evangelical donors.
- The increase in individuals capable of funding their own ministries and organizations.
- More venture philanthropy following the disciplines of investing and investment banking.
- More funding of educational options by evangelicals.
- Emergence of congregation-based foundations with an outward focus (rather than local endowments).
- Development of specialized staffing to train stewardship in large congregations.
- Emergence of local and national Christian community foundations.
- More family foundations among evangelicals.
- Less competition and more cooperation between congregations and parachurch organizations, which will become a means of delivering programs for congregations
- The creation of new wealth by entrepreneurial Christians will be more important than the transfer of old wealth to heirs.
- The creation of transnational networks of major Christian funders (individuals, families and foundations) for information, idea exchange and "deals" will expand the scope and creativity of global Christian capital.
- A shift from millenial giving based on an expectation of a impending End Times to giving based on engagement with the world as it is, leading to greater emphasis on issues like social justice and ending social abuses.