The 3rd annual State of the Plate constituency survey from 1,507 congregations showed that 43-percent of churches saw giving increase this past year (up from 36-percent last year).
Brian Kluth, author of the bestselling 40 Day Generous Life book and founder of MAXIMUM Generosity and the State of the Plate research, said, "Charities and churches have been hit hard by the economy the past three years. While giving is beginning to improve for some churches, many churches continue to experience financial challenges with declining donations."
This year's State of the Plate research also showed that 39-percent of churches saw giving decline this past year.
While the Pacific Coast states showed the greatest declines in church giving in 2008 and 2009, the Southeast states experienced the heaviest declines in 2010. Smaller churches, those with attendance under 250, saw giving decline more than larger churches.
The research also found that a majority of churches are working hard to gain their people's trust and properly manage their finances. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) in Washington DC was a co-sponsor of this year's State of the Plate research. ECFA recently was asked by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to lead a commission that will look into changes related to regulations governing non-profit charities and churches.
Dan Busby, president of ECFA, says "Sen. Grassley has said in the past that he wants churches to properly self-govern in financial matters. The State of the Plate research shows that a significant number of churches are concerned about financial integrity and accountability, 94-percent make their financial statements available to members, 73-percent have a finance committee, 56-percent conduct an internal audit annually, and 36-percent have invested in a CPA audit in the past 3 years. Our research shows many churches are implementing strong financial accountability practices."
Whether giving increases or decreases in 2011 will depend on a variety of factors, said Matt Branaugh, director of editorial for Christianity Today International's church management team, a survey co-sponsor. "It's critical for church leaders to nurture relationships with people and show them how their giving directly helps the church's mission and their surrounding communities," Branaugh added.
State of the Plate online constituency surveys were completed by 1,507 churches of all types from all regions of the country.
Click here for a look at the full report.