2021 Giving Stats

2021 State of Giving – Key Impacts for Your Church

2020 proved to be an extraordinary year for many reasons – global pandemic, worldwide economic shutdown, institutional closures – the list goes on and on. Despite these societal changes and unprecedented times, giving across the US increased 5.1%, totaling more than $471 billion.

These numbers seem encouraging, but underlying factors for giving paint a different picture. At MortarStone, after tracking giving from 2000+ churches, the trend we continue to see from 2020 is band 5 givers (those giving $10,000+ a year) carry the majority of church funding. While these generous givers are a blessing to ministry and have helped sustain many churches, it is crucial to recognize the potential for giver fatigue and eventually a downgrade in giving from this group. The key takeaway from these observations is that financial discipleship across all giving segments should be pursued to ensure your church is funded by the majority of your givers and not just a few top financial leaders.

From the Giving USA 2021 data, we find the following statistics about how Americans are giving.  Download the complete findings at Giving USA.

  • Giving to religion grew slightly by 1.0 percent between 2019 and 2020, with an estimated $131.08 billion in contributions. Inflation-adjusted giving to the religion sub-sector stayed flat with a decline of .2 percent in 2020.


  • Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $324.10 billion, rising 2.2 percent in 2020 (an increase of 1.0 percent, adjusted for inflation).


  • Giving by foundations increased 17.0 percent, to an estimated $88.55 billion in 2020 (an increase of 15.6 percent, adjusted for inflation).


  • Giving by bequest totaled an estimated $41.91 billion in 2020, with a growth rate of 10.3 percent from 2019 (an increase of 9.0 percent, when adjusted for inflation).


  • Giving by corporations is estimated to have declined by 6.1 percent in 2020, totaling $16.88 billion (a decline of 7.3 percent, adjusted for inflation). Corporate giving includes cash and in-kind contributions made through corporate giving programs, as well as grants and gifts made by corporate foundations.


  • Giving to education is estimated to have increased 9.0 percent between 2019 and 2020, to $71.34 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to education organizations increased 7.7 percent.


  • Giving to human services increased by an estimated 9.7 percent in 2020, totaling $65.14 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to human services organizations increased by 8.4 percent.


  • Giving to foundations is estimated to have increased by 2.0 percent in 2020, to $58.17 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to foundations stayed flat at 0.8 percent.


  • Giving to environmental and animal organizations is estimated to have increased 11.6 percent between 2019 and 2020, to $16.14 billion. Adjusted for inflation, donations to the environment/animals subsector increased 10.3 percent.


While giving to religious organizations increased in 2020, we still see a .2% decline each year. Environmental and animal organizations, as well as educational institutions, continue to lead in charitable giving.

Identifying and applying a biblical financial discipleship strategy for relationally developing your givers is essential for encouraging generosity. If you don’t currently have a program that develops generous givers, contact us for more information.

stats on giving

Planned Giving Opportunities

Now, more than ever, your church needs to consider the opportunities that creative planned gifts provide. With a planned giving ministry, your givers benefit from tax savings while still providing for their families and church ministries. The 2021 numbers prove that even in these uncertain economic times, the “great wealth transfer” is still happening.

The total amount for giving by bequest in 2020 includes an estimated amount for charitable bequests from estates with assets of $5 million and above, estates with assets between $1 million and $5 million, and estates with assets below $1 million. For 2020:

  • Estimated bequest giving from estates $5 million and above (filing estates) amounted to $22.07 billion.
  • Estimated bequest giving from estates between $1 and $5 million amounted to $8.61 billion
  • Estimated bequest giving from estates with assets below $1 million amounted to $11.24 billion.

Giving stats are an excellent indicator of trending patterns in giving. With a planned giving program at your church, you can receive long-term sustainable funding that continues to provide year after year for ministry needs. Learn how to start a planned giving ministry at your church – contact us for details on building this program. We’ll also include a customized planned giving report identifying the potential for significant, non-cash gifts from your giving data.