Members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) enjoyed their best year of charitable giving since 2014, with an increase of almost 6 percent during the period 2016-2017.
The Winchester, Va.-based ECFA released its ninth annual “State of Giving Report.” Overall cash giving in 2016-17 topped $13.3 billion, an increase of 5.9 percent over the previous year’s $12.63 billion, with double-digit increases in four sub-sectors tracked:
- 12.7 percent, relief and development
- 11.8 percent, K-12 schools
- 11.8 percent, evangelism
- 11.8 percent, medical services
- 9.6 percent, community development
- 8.8 percent, domestic missions
- 7.4 percent, individual churches
The increase for 2016-17 is an improvement upon a 2.2 percent increase in annual cash giving between 2015-16, and an identical 2.2 percent increase for 2014-15. This year’s 5.9-percent bump is the largest increase since 6.9 percent in 2012-13. The only year within the past decade that saw a decrease in giving was 2008-09, down 3 percent. Giving has been on the rise every single year since the Great Recession.
During the past five reports, the ECFA has reported a general increase of 4.4 percent in cash giving. The 10-year average of 3.4 percent outpaced both the average national wage growth of 0.6 percent and the 2.7 percent growth in giving to all charities, including religious charities over the same period.
ECFA’s “State of Giving” report breaks down giving into 26 segments. The areas of ministry that experienced the most growth over the last five years (2012-17) are:
- Medical services, 8.9 percent
- Camps and conferences, 8.2 percent
- Adoption, 7.6 percent
- Leadership training, 7.4 percent
- Student/youth, 7.4 percent
- Evangelism, 7.0 percent
The increase in giving was more prominent at larger ministries, which does not included churches. Those with budgets of $25 million to $50 million reported an increase of 8.8 percent, followed by 7.4 percent for those $5 million to $10 million. Also above 7 percent were organizations between $10 million and $25 million, at 7.2 percent. The biggest drop off came amid organizations of less than $5 million. While still on the positive side, organizations between $1 million and $5 million reported an increase of giving of 2.2 percent while those less than $1 million were up 1.8 percent.
The ECFA also tracks non-cash giving, which was almost flat, down 0.1 percent. Despite the decline, $3.6 billion of non-cash gifts were recorded, which can include real estate, securities, vehicles, household items, clothing, contributed services, and use of facilities and equipment.
Founded in 1979, ECFA provides accreditation to Christian nonprofit organizations that comply with standards when it comes to fundraising, board governance, and financial accountability. The council has about 2,300 accredited members within the U.S., however not all members were included in the study due to being newly accredited. There were 1,772 certified organizations represented in the new report.