The good news is that Baby Boomers, once thought to be completely selfish, are now the most generous generation in terms of dollars contributed to charity.
The bad news is that every Baby Boomer in 2014 will turn 50 years old. How is that bad news? It is bad news because in the next 10 to 20 years, this generation, which is now in their prime earning years, will move into retirement and fixed incomes.
Giving to the church is already in decline. The leading study on giving by Empty Tomb, Inc. has shown that giving to the church has declined as a percentage of Americans incomes from 3.11 percent in 1968 to 2.32 percent in 2011, their most recent study. Even more alarming is their projections that, at the current rate of decline, giving by 2050 will be only 1 percent. We are talking about billions and billions of dollars lost every year.
What does this mean for the church?
Frankly, we will see more churches forced into bankruptcy, more mission agencies cease to exist and, overall, the church’s ability to do missions and ministry worldwide severely hampered. Yet for many churches, the downfall in giving will happen much sooner than 2050. The maturing of the Baby Boomer generation is one reason why.
The impact of Baby Boomers retiring
Let me illustrate how this could play out in your church. Recently, I shared how aging Baby Boomers could impact giving at a conference at a church in Illinois. I looked up the salaries of public school teachers in that county and found an actual listing of teacher’s salaries. I used as an example, an elementary teacher that had worked over 30 years in the state and was over 55 years of age.
Here are the facts that I shared:
- A teacher in St. Clair County with 30 years and age 55 makes $88,499.
- If the teacher gives a 10 percent tithe, $8,850 comes to your church.
- In Illinois, a teacher can retire at 75 percent of their salary with 30 years of service and 55 years of age.
- If the teacher gives a 10 percent tithe, $6,637 now comes to your church.
- 25 percent is the hit to your bottom line!
You might not think that losing $2,213 dollars a year is a big deal. However, multiply that many times over and you can see that unless you do something, you are in for a huge decline in giving revenue.
Right now, my guess is that your largest giving group is the Baby Boomers in your church.
How much longer will they work and earn at the level they are earning?