New study explores how congregations receive, manage and spend their money

Church and finance |

Window offered on how churches are doing financially

Lake Institute on Faith & Giving released a report in late 2019 titled National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices.

The study offers a window on how churches are doing related to receiving, managing and spending their money.

Here’s how Lake Institute describes key areas the project covered:

  • Receive: We examine the variety of sources from which congregations receive support. We explore who gives, as well as when and how the giving takes place.
  • Manage: We examine how congregations ask attendees to give, how they teach about money and finances, and how they steward the gifts they receive.
  • Spend: We examine how congregations spend their financial resources to serve their members, surrounding communities and beyond.

Researchers found that churches continue to receive the largest proportion of charitable giving in the U.S. – 29% of all charitable dollars ($124 billion in 2018). Religious affiliation and religious attendance remain strong indicators of individuals’ giving patterns.

With declines in both religious affiliation and attendance, however, a smaller share of total charitable giving is going to congregations.

The current 29% figure for religious giving is a substantial drop from the 50% of overall charitable giving that went to churches in the 1980s.

Over the past year, religious giving decreased (-1.5%, or -3.9% adjusted for inflation) for the first time since the Great Recession ended in 2009.

Other factors affect giving to churches and other religious institutions, beyond changing affiliation and attendance patterns:

  • An overall decrease in the percentage of households giving to charity.
  • A drop in the number of tax filers itemizing charitable deductions because of tax reform legislation.
  • A strong but uneven economy.

Those developments fuel concerns about the future of giving in America – and giving to churches in particular.

If you would like a free pdf of the entire report, send a request to beryl.jantzi@everence.com, along with your email address.

Beryl Jantzi head shot

Author

Beryl Jantzi
Director of Stewardship Education

How Everence can help

Everence offers one- and two-day training sessions, Cultivating Generous Congregations, which combine Lake Institute findings with instruction, models and tools to address the growing financial challenges many of our churches face.

Contact your Everence stewardship consultant for more information on hosting such training in your church or in your conference/district.