Ministries See 2.2% Uptick In Giving

December 5, 2016       Paul Clolery      

Annual cash contributions to Christian ministries increased 2.2 percent last year, with the largest increases in giving to short-term missions and camps and conferences.

The seventh annual State of Giving Report by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), represents data from 1,816 accredited members. Total giving was $12.5 billion last year, up from $12.2 billion in 2014. Non-cash giving was up 7.5 percent to $3.5 billion.

The overall 2.2-percent increase from 2014 to 2015 corresponds with the 2.7-percent rise in giving to religious organizations as reported by Giving USA this past summer.

The Winchester, Va.-based ECFA also reported that giving to members that offer donor-advised funds increased by 25 percent.

The report breaks down giving into 28 organizational segments, with the largest increases is giving among:

  • Short-term missions, 25.2 percent after 2.3 percent in 2014;
  • Camps and conferences, 21.2 percent after a drop of almost 7 percent in 2014;
  • Drug and alcohol, 13.1 percent, after 5.4 percent in 2014;
  • Orphan care, 12.4 percent after 1.8 percent in 2014;
  • Community development, 11.7 percent growth after 9.3 percent in 2014; and,
  • Prison, 11.7 percent growth, after a decline of 4.4 percent in 2014.

By comparison, the largest increases in giving in 2014 were 14 percent by K-12 education; 13.6 percent, medical; 12.5 percent, leadership training; adoption, 11.2 percent, and community development, 9.3 percent.

Eight segments reported increased giving of at least 10 percent last year compared with just four in 2014.

Only three of the 28 segments reported decreases last year, compared with seven in 2014: Relief and development, down 13.8 percent; domestic missions, down 0.3 percent, and literature publishing, down 0.7 percent. Literature publishing was the only segment to report decreased giving in both 2014 and 2015.

In a reversal from 2014, smaller organizations reported higher growth in giving than larger organizations. Organizations ranging from $1 million to $5 million reported 6.5 percent growth compared with just 0.7 percent for those of more than $50 million. Among others, organizations of $25 million to $50 million saw 4.6 percent growth; $10 million to $25 million, 4.1 percent, and $5 million to $10 million, 3.5 percent.

In the previous year, the smallest organizations saw growth of 2 percent compared with more than 5 percent for all other segments by size, with a high of 6 percent by organizations of $5 million to $10 million.

ECFA has more than 2,100 accredited members but not all are included in the study because they were not accredited in the last two years and comparable financial data for previous years is not available. The data, which is not adjusted for inflation, comes directly from financial statements prepared by independent certified public accountants – primarily audits.