Despite the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, hundreds of Evangelical organizations saw a rise in donations from 2020 to 2021, according to a new report.
The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability emailed The Christian Post a copy of its 2022 State of Giving report, subtitled “Need Is Up—And So Is Giving.”
The report drew from financial statements prepared by approximately 1,800 ECFA member organizations to find trends in giving among the various entities.
ECFA found that its average member organization saw a 3% increase in cash donations from 2020, the year the pandemic began, to 2021, with this increase being “inflation-adjusted.”
The 3% increase from 2020 to 2021 was higher than the 2.5% increase in cash giving seen in 2019-2020, and well above the 1.3% increase in giving seen in 2018-2019.
ECFA broke down its ministries into several categories, with “foundations” having the largest increase in cash giving during this time, seeing a 65.8% increase in giving.
Anti-human trafficking groups saw a 28.9% increase in giving, while pregnancy resource centers saw a 14.5% increase, children’s ministries had a 12.6% increase, and church plating had a 12.2% increase.
Three types of ministries saw drops in cash giving from 2020-2021: “Alcohol and drug rehabilitation” saw a 2.7% decrease, student and youth ministry had a 2.9 decrease, and individual churches had a 6.6% decrease.
Regarding the especially bad performance of individual congregations, the report details how the coronavirus pandemic “had a significant impact on churches.”
“Churches were not able to meet (or met with limited capacity) during early pandemic months and congregants have been slow to return to the pews. Some churches have reported that they are still only at 50% of attendance compared to pre-pandemic,” stated the report.
“It is important to note that prior to adjusting for significant inflation growth, giving appeared to be higher. ECFA member churches did better, on average, than U.S. Protestant churches in general, according to other surveys.”
ECFA President and CEO Michael Martin was quoted in the report explaining that cash giving to ECFA member groups “increased during both pandemic years, as well as across the last five and 10 years — all inflation-adjusted.”
“In fact, last year was the largest annual increase in giving that we've seen over the last 10 years,” Martin added. “Contrary to what many expected, giving during the pandemic to ECFA members was strong (stronger, in fact, than the level of giving to other nonprofits and churches), and optimism remains high toward future giving.”
Martin believed that this upward trend in giving was “especially encouraging in light of the increased level of need identified in the second part of our report.”
According to last year’s State of Giving report, while cash giving to member churches decreased during the 2020 lockdowns, it was a surprisingly low drop given the circumstances.
“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,” explained the 2021 report.
“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.”