Nearly 800 churches of all sizes have responded so far to the second annual “State of the Plate” research surveys (http://www.StateofthePlate.info)
VIDEO INTRODUCTION to this research: http://www.youtube.com/
Five major developments are emerging from the survey, which asks church leaders and pastors to report on how their church giving, budgeting, and geneoristy initiatives.
1) The poor economy is hurting a growing number of churches.
If the media headlines may the economy is improving, its impact hasn’t shown up yet in the offering plate:
•The number of churches reporting a decline in giving this past year has increased to nearly 36% of churches surveyed, compared to 29% at the same time a year ago.
•Only 38% of churches saw giving increase this past year, compared to 47% a year ago.
2) Many churches say December year-end giving fell short.
While Rick Warren’s December appeal to more than 100,000 e-mail recipients helped his church adequately close the gap on a year-end budget shortfall, many other churches weren’t so fortunate.
•30% of churches surveyed said that their December year-end giving “missed” their expectations.
•Only 24% of churches indicated that year-end giving surpassed their expectation.
•With nearly a third missing giving expectations at the end of 2009, many churches likely entered 2010 looking for ways to slow their church spending
3) Some churches decreased their budgets while others increased budgets.
While a growing number of church budgets are being trimmed, others increased theirs heading into 2010:
•In the survey, 32%said they made budgets cuts of 1 percent to 20%. A year ago, only 14% said the same.
•The top three cuts came in the areas of travel and conferences, ministry programs, and expansion/renovation projects.
•24% of churches kept their budgets the same as last year.
•Surprisingly, 45% of churches increased their budgets for the coming year, compared to 23% who said the same a year ago. Churches that increased their budgets did so primarily in the areas of benevolence giving, ministry programs, and missions giving.
4) More churches plan to preach and teach on finances and generosity in a variety of ways.
The Bible provides more than 2,000 verses on finances and generosity and a growing number of churches say they are planning or considering to share God’s Word on these subjects in the following ways:
•Sharing a Bible verse during the offering, 63%
•Making financial counselors available, 49%
•Running an annual stewardship drive, 48%
•Videos in the worship service, 46%
•Giving families a generosity devotional, 45%
•Estate planning materials/seminars, 44%
•Stewardship training for leaders, 40%
Regarding e-giving options, 36% of churches say they offer this already, and another 29% say they’re considering it or seeking additional information about it.
5) More churches utilzing outside resources and guidance.
More churches say they’re seeking outside resources to help with church finances, giving, and generosity. The top resources identified by respondents:
•Dave Ramsey, 58%
•Crown Financial Ministries, 57%
•Maximum Generosity, 47%
•Denominational resources, 44%
•Church Law & Tax Report, 38%
•Your Church magazine, 34%
Pastors and church leaders can still participate in the second annual “State of the Plate" (http://www.StateOfThePlate.info) Important Note: All participants will receive free electronic resources, access to the full results, and an executive summary outlining graphs, charts, benchmarks, and trends.
Watch in March for a full final report covering the "State of the Plate" findings at http://www.StateofthePlate.info
BRIAN KLUTH is a pastor, author, speaker, and media expert on church giving and biblical generosity. His bestselling http://www.GenerousLife.org 40 Day Bible devotional has been given out by over 1300 churches to teach stewardship, inspire greater generosity, and increase giving. Kluth is also the founder of http://www.MAXIMUMgenerosity.org website, eNewsletter, and the author of the free online eBOOK: 50 Best Practices and 80 Best Websites to Increase Church Giving.
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MAXIMUM Generosity was founded by Dr. Brian Kluth to provide resources, speaking, and media interviews that inspire greater generosity and increase giving. Kluth is a pastor, bestselling author, speaker, and a leading media authority on philanthropy.