$10 Billion Lutheran Transfer; Why Wait?

Posted on Feb 02, 2020 by Jon Dize - Funding the Mission

I’m Back!

It seems that I have been absent from these weekly posts for The Lutheran Schools Partnership for a few months. We have been busy with December year-end gifts over at The Lutheran SGO of Indiana, and I have been actively posting fundraising training, opinions, and snippets for our fundraising staff-focused Monday Morning Musing (interested in another weekly email? Click here), I was reminded not to forget to post here, too.

Here is something I overheard at a presentation recently:

"Experts talk about the $80 trillion in wealth transfer from parents and grandparents to their children over the next 25 years... and if you take the average weekly attendance in LCMS church pews this upcoming Sunday across the USA, our Lutheran transfer piece of that pie could be at least $10 billion."


Being the scholar that I am (or should that word be “skeptic”), I asked the speaker where his data came from; see his answers below:

  • The average estate for a Lutheran couple that this speaker sees is about $1 million.
  • There are about 30,000 people sitting in LCMS churches on a given Sunday.
  • Of those 30,000, perhaps 1/3 are 60+ (maybe even closer to 50%). That would be about 10,000 - 15,000 people.
  • Therefore, 10,000 to 15,000 x $1 million = $10 to $15 billion. He’s a conservative guy, so he trimmed it to $10 billion. As he said, “what’s a few zeros among friends?”
  • Alternatively, he checked those numbers via a second route: starting with the $80 trillion number, and based on the experts’ data that 23% of the US population is 60+ (80 million people), we arrive back at the average $1 million estate value.

As my old high school Latin teacher used to say, we should always take things “with a grain of salt.” Are these numbers based in reality? Are they just “pie in the sky?” Won’t retirees spend their inheritance on trips, tiny houses, and healthcare?

Even if the numbers for your congregations and schools are closer to $100,000 or $1,000, just imagine how 10% of these numbers would make a huge impact on our Lutheran schools and churches in the long term.

To me, the bigger question is, are you prepared to ask for a piece of this transfer?

Are you reminding your members and supporters about including you in their estate? Have information in your hallways about IRA charitable rollovers? Ever considered working with the LCMS Foundation on Charitable Gift Annuities? Ever heard of Donor Advised Funds?

AND, are you, as an attendee and supporter of Lutheran education, talking to your own family about remembering your school and church in your estate plans? Did you know that you could direct an estate gift to your church or school’s endowment fund so that your gift will “live forever”? More on that in next week’s post….