How young and wealthy evangelicals give their money • Good Assurance


One of the clearest changes among mega-Christian donors is demographics. Generation X and the beginnings of Generation Y are just starting to take over the legacy family foundations or exploit their potential, and their sensitivity differs from that of their parents. "From an early age, I was really attracted to working for others," said Robin Bruce, president of the 35-year-old David Weekley Family Foundation, a family-based philanthropic organization. According to tax documents, he gave about $ 7.1 million in 2015, with assets of about $ 114 million.

"For a long time, especially with baby boomers, there was so much wealth created so quickly," said Bruce. "People just started giving where it was convenient for them, which was usually local, with causes … to which they become familiar … through their church or local network." By contrast, his generation wants to give money to be part of what it is, she said. The causes they defend, whether it's developing health clinics in Africa or guiding children in Houston, are at the heart of their sense of identity.

As the form of wealth in America changes, the form of evangelical wealth changes with it: some members of a new class of evangelical donors have earned their living in entrepreneurship and are attracted by evidence of innovation , transparency and accountability of the organizations they support. . This "generation is … more concerned about the results, the causes, the progress," said David Wills, former head of the National Christian Foundation, which has awarded more than $ 10 billion in grants since its founding in 1982. of the largest funds advised by donors in the country.

This echoes another trend of the evangelical donor class: over time, this could become more diverse. Kwan described a community of second- and third-generation Asian-born American Christians in Silicon Valley who "are not necessarily beholden to the wars of the culture of the past," he said. The causes that have come to be associated with evangelism, such as gay marriage, abortion and religious freedom, do not necessarily resonate outside of a specific milieu, white evangelicalism. As money changes, these concerns will also change.

All of these trends have shaped the way Christian dollars are spent. In a study conducted in 2018, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Giving USA and Indiana University revealed a clear decrease in religious donations over the last four decades, from more than half of donations in the late 70's to early 90's to about a third as recently as 2017. This does not necessarily mean that evangelicals are giving less money, said David King, director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving from the University. Instead, they can donate to organizations and causes that are not explicitly associated with parish and parish organizations.