By Terry Goodrich, Baylor University
Published: June 20, 2012
WACO—Many churches miss opportunities to involve Christian women in philanthropy, with ministry leaders too often speaking “man-to-man”—despite the fact that women now control more than 51 percent of personal wealth nationally, Baylor scholars concluded from their analysis of a 2012 national survey.While Christian women are far more generous than the average person, the report—”Directions in Women’s Giving 2012″—shows many donors believe church and ministry leaders neglect the role women play in charitable giving, instead addressing only husbands. The report was commissioned by Women Doing Well, a Georgia-based national organization founded in 2010 to assist Christian women in stewardship. The survey of more than 7,400 Christian women was analyzed by Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and conducted by Sagamore Institute’s Center on Faith in Communities.”My sorrow is that the church isn’t a more important and relevant factor,” said study author Amy Sherman, a senior fellow both in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion and at Sagamore Institute for Policy Research.”We heard many women lament that talking about money has been ‘taboo’ in the churches in which they participate—and they wish this would change. The significant take-away is that women really are so frequently the decision-makers or at least equal in making decisions, and yet the fund-development world hasn’t caught up to that truth yet.”
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Although many churches have not recognized the need to focus on women’s giving, women are “extremely active in volunteering their time on behalf of both their local churches and local community organizations,” the report said.In the study, Christian women report the top three influences for giving their time and money are the conviction that “God owns it all,” personal spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study, and biblical teaching on stewardship.
Giving and a strong sense of calling are correlated, and those indicating that they lacked a strong sense of calling also reported that their actual giving is significantly less than their capacity for giving. Debt is the most commonly cited challenge to generosity, followed by consumerism/materialism and fear that giving more would mean one’s family might not have enough.
Meanwhile, among “aspiring givers,” lack of financial planning and lack of clarity of purpose are the most common challenges.
The report also showed most women surveyed have not been reached by traditional resources, organizations and writings in the so-called “Christian generosity movement.”
Survey participants responded to a 100-plus questionnaire online. In addition, focus groups were held with over 100 women from six cities and one-on-one in-depth interviews conducted with 11 female “champions in giving” because of their major donations of money and time to Christian ministries. The research project spanned 11 months.
The report cited statistics showing:
• Women now own 51.3 percent of all personal wealth in the United States, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Board.
• Nearly 40 percent of working wives now make more money than their husbands, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• 95 percent of women are involved in household financial decisions, with 25 percent acting as primary decision-makers, according to Prudential Financial’s research study “Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women” (2010-2012).