$16 Billion Given to Evangelical Ministries in 2015, Nearly 10% Increase From 2014: Study

(Photo: Reuters/Mark Blinch)

Donations to evangelical Christian organizations in the United States continue to increase, according to the latest numbers provided by a national financial standards association representing evangelical groups that qualify for tax-exempt, nonprofit status and receive tax-deductible contributions.

The annual cash charitable giving to evangelical groups rose from $12.2 billion in 2014 to $12.5 billion in 2015, which amounts to an increase of 2.2 percent, according to an annual State of Giving Report by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

The latest ECFA report, which looked at data from 1,816 members, recorded $16 billion of giving in 2015, out of which $12.5 billion was in cash and $3.5 billion in non-cash to members, including churches and nonprofit organizations of various types. The non-cash giving grew by 7.5 percent.

"Both new and long-standing donors are continuing to give faithfully to support the important work of our member organizations," Dan Busby, ECFA president and CEO, said in a statement. "It is encouraging to see generosity in action, and it is interesting to note how trends in giving change from year to year."

The report notes that giving to short-term missions recorded a growth of 25.2 percent, camps and conferences 21.2 percent, groups working in the area of drug and alcohol 13.1 percent, orphan care 12.4 percent, community development 11.7 percent and prison-related ministries 11.7 percent.

The increase in giving to evangelical groups corresponds with the 2.7 percent increase in giving to religious organizations that was recently reported in the Giving USA study, which was released in June, ECFA noted.

Donations from individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015, setting a record for the second year in a row, the study said. Out of the amount, individuals gave $264.58 billion, foundation giving was $58.46 billion, charitable bequests gave $31.76 billion, and corporate donated $18.45 billion.

"If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars," Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis, said in the study.

"But these findings embody more than numbers — they also are a symbol of the American spirit. It's heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they're supporting the causes that matter to them. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before."