The pandemic’s much-feared financial toll on churches and nonprofit ministries failed to materialize in 2020. That’s the verdict from a survey of 1,292 members and friends of ECFA (the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) published March 4 in a 12-page illustration-rich report titled “Remarkable Resilience.”
Every three months since the nation’s coronavirus-driven financial upheavals began last spring, ECFA has polled its membership, plus other like-minded churches and nonprofits. After an initial dip in charitable giving, donations rose and held somewhat steady in the summer and fall. Donor fatigue apparently did not set in even across the end-of-year’s final appeals.
What did our survey uncover? For 85%, 2020’s income from cash giving was close to 2019’s. The breakdown of the 85% is instructive: while 18% said it was close—i.e., that 2020 was lower than 2019 by 1-10%, and 14% said the two years ended the same, 27% said that 2020’s cash giving was 1-10% higher than 2019’s, and an amazing 26% said that 2020’s cash giving was more than 10% higher than 2019’s. Thus 53% said that 2020 ended higher than 2019 for cash income.
For most churches and nonprofits, cash giving is their largest slice of the income pie. ECFA’s 2,546 member organizations average 58% of their revenue as coming from green cash, checks, online giving, etc. Another 27% of revenue comes from “other income” such as facility rentals, tuition, program fees, etc. The remaining 15% comes from non-cash giving such as gifts in kind, donated services, etc. This formula varies across many ministry types, with child sponsorship ministries averaging 99% of their income …
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