The demographics of the Church has shifted. The Builder and Silent generation is moving off the stage and even Baby Boomers are near exiting. These facts are even more sobering given the fact that Giving USA recently stated that giving to religion might never recover from the past recession.
We have to face reality, the generation that helped build much of the structures we use today is moving from here to heaven. Their children, that would be me, are nearing retirement, thus their earning power is going to significantly be impacted. While we baby boomers might not like to face reality we too are soon to be moving on to heaven. What will our legacy be?
Experts tell us that in the next decade the greatest transfer of wealth will take place in the history of the world. Yet only 8% of estate gifts go to churches! Let that sink in. This means that the Church will only get 8% of this great transfer!
Less than 10% of churches have a plan for planned giving. Jesus said you have not because you ask not. The Church is failing to make a case for why builders and boomers should leave behind a part of their legacy to religion. It is no wonder that 92% of all gifts go somewhere else. While you ignore estate planning, colleges, hospitals and other non-profits have their lures in your pond, your church, asking your members to leave a legacy to them for the future. They are getting God's money because they ask and you don't.
So what can your church do to fund the future? As I always say, have a plan and work your plan. Here are a few things that I think you should do at a minimum
Regularly put into your communication materials information about estate planning. Some members simply have never thought about leaving their church in their wills.
Use whatever denominational or other groups you can find to share important information about estate planning.
Think about holding a yearly luncheon for your seniors where you have an estate planner talk about the importance of wills and estates.
Build a portal on estate planning on your website and then send targeted emails and letters to those fifty and above about the site.
The most important thing your church can do to garner estate gifts is have a compelling long term vision that will impact the world! People leave their money to causes that matter. Show how your church's cause matters.
What if Let's say that your church had been doing the above for the last twenty to thirty years. How much money would you have received during that time? It might have been enough to build that project that you can't get off the drawing board. While you wait, remember some college is out there talking to your members right now. It is time to get your lure into the water!