An analysis of fundraising, endowment management, and governance/disclosure practices of religious foundations.

  • We examine religious giving trends and the increased use of standalone fundraising foundations.
  • The report provides a focus on Catholic diocese foundations.
  • We share insights on the benefits and costs of using a separate foundation.

Giving USA published its charitable results for the 2014 period in June 2015, and overall religious giving continued to be the largest share of philanthropy in the U.S. Yet a close look at the data shows that religious donations have been declining over the past 14 years from 36% of overall giving to a current level of 32% in 2014.

In this paper, we examine religious giving and focus on the increased use of standalone fundraising foundations, a strategy that many types of religious organizations are utilizing in recent years to spur overall donations, especially endowment giving. These foundations provide very important philanthropic support to their respective faith-based community missions. As an example, we focus on Catholic diocese foundations, which are separate legally-formed foundations used to manage and expand endowment funds that provide ongoing philanthropic support, and in some cases, manage overall fundraising. These foundations have been evolving over the past few decades and have followed in the footsteps of other types of religious organizations, as well as secular community foundations. We provide some insights on the benefits and costs of using a separate foundation.

This research study was conducted in 2015 and all data is relevant as of that year, unless otherwise noted. If you have any questions about this study, please do not hesitate to contact the author directly. Please see important disclosures at the end of the article.

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