Study Shows Giving Finally Rebounding for Majority of Churches
Press release (March 27, 2012) — Churches suffered from plummeting donations after the recession began in 2008. But in the past year, a majority of congregations experienced giving increases because of a better economy, higher attendance and more church teaching on giving.
Trends in 2011 included higher budgets, which brought more church spending on staff salaries, missions, facilities and benevolence. Trends also included greater attention to fiscal transparency and board governance and a rise in electronic giving through technological tools, such as cell phone applications and automatic bank withdrawals.
The fourth annual "State of the Plate" constituency survey of more than 1,360 congregations revealed that 51 percent of churches saw giving increase in 2011, up from 43 percent in 2010 and 36 percent in 2009.
The survey was a collaborative research project sponsored by MAXIMUM Generosity, Christianity Today, publisher of Church Finance Today and Leadership Journal, and ECFA. The survey asked pastors, staff and leaders of all church sizes, theological leanings and regions to report on their church giving, budgeting and generosity initiatives, as well as programs to help families negatively affected by the economy.
"Charities and churches were hit hard by the recession, but many are now beginning to see increased giving," said Brian Kluth, author, speaker and founder of the “State of the Plate” research. "A better economy, more Bible teaching on finances and generosity and a growing number of online giving options are helping many churches rebound financially."
Giving increases were greatest among larger churches, with more than 70 percent of megachurches — 2,000 or more in weekend attendance — experiencing giving increases last year. Heartland states saw the biggest rebound, with nearly 55 percent of churches experiencing giving increases. For three of the last four years, Pacific Coast churches continued to struggle financially. In 2011, 38 percent experienced giving declines.