Cash giving to members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability totaled $15.5 billion in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.
With nearly three-quarters of affiliated churches and nonprofits having reported giving at the same rate or higher for the first three quarters of 2021, optimism for giving in 2022 among these ministries is high, a new survey shows.
In its 2021 State of Giving report released Monday, the ECFA, which is the accreditation organization for many leading Christian nonprofits, showed that while cash giving to member churches dipped slightly amid the pandemic and lockdowns in 2020, giving to other types of ministries increased.
“Churches held almost even in their cash giving when you compare 2020 to 2019. Specifically, during the 2020 pandemic year, they received slightly less (-1.2%) cash giving than in 2019,” researchers noted. “However, for all other ECFA members, cash giving did better. It increased in 2020 even more than it increased in 2019. During 2020, ECFA’s ministry members received 3.4% more cash giving than in 2019.”
Results of a survey of 1,042 Christ-centered nonprofits and churches titled Endurance Through Adversity that measured how they were impacted financially by COVID-19 and the lockdowns over the last year-and-a-half, as well as their outlook for the future, shows how this giving trend has only continued to improve.
“Bottom line: Despite incredible challenges through an environment with much adversity, 2021 has seen remarkable endurance and significant forward motion among ECFA members and other like-minded ministries. We are impressed by their strong, optimistic belief that God will continue to provide the funding needed to fuel [G]ospel-motivated ministry,” researcher Warren Bird wrote.
The survey found that a majority of churches and nonprofits in the survey were optimistic in their outlook on giving for 2022. Collectively, 65% of churches and nonprofits expressed optimism about giving for next year. Nonprofits were slightly more optimistic than churches, with 67% feeling optimistic about their cash-giving going into 2022 compared to 64% for churches. Some 18% of churches were pessimistic going into the new year compared to just 10% of nonprofits.
When asked about cash donations for January through September compared to January through September 2020, 73% of respondents said donations for the first three quarters of 2021 were the same or higher for the same period in 2020.
Some 64% of churches shared in this optimism, while 78% of nonprofits reported the same.
When the group was further broken down by the type of ministry, however, media ministries, including film, radio, internet and television were at the top of the pack, with 95 reporting that giving for the first three quarters of 2021 was the same or higher for the same period in 2020.
This was followed by evangelism ministries where 90% reported doing the same or better with cash giving compared to 2020, while that number stood at 87% for rescue missions and homeless ministries; 86% for pregnancy resource centers; and 83% for international missions, which rounded out the top five.
“I’m very encouraged by the generosity of God’s people reflected in this report. It has been said that Christians, especially [E]vangelical Christians, are among the most generous on [p]lanet Earth. ECFA’s Christ-centered churches and ministries have demonstrated that reality once again — even during a global pandemic!” the ECFA’s President and CEO, Michael Martin, noted. “This solid financial foundation positions churches and ministries to continue their positive impact for Christ, both domestically and internationally.”