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The State of Church Giving through 2003



Chapter 1 Highlights



•     Overall, members donated a smaller portion of income to their churches in 2003 than in 1968.
 
•     Per member giving as a percentage of income to Total Contributions declined from 3.11% in 1968 to 2.59% in 2003, a decline of 17% in the portion of income donated to the church from the 1968 base.
 
•     U.S. per capita Disposable (after-tax) income increased 111% in inflation-adjusted dollars, from $12,510 in 1968 to $26,449 in 2003. However, Total Contributions only increased 76%, from $388.82 to $683.75.
 
•    Congregational Finances, the subcategory of Total Contributions that funds local operations, decreased as a portion of income from 2.45% in 1968 to 2.21% in 2003, a decline of 10%. Although sporadic from year to year, a general increase in giving to Congregational Finances began in 1993. By 2003, giving as a portion of income to this category had recovered to the level of 1973 and 1974.
 
•    Benevolences, the subcategory of Total Contributions that funds the larger mission of the church beyond the local congregation, decreased 42% as a portion of income, from 0.66% in 1968 to 0.38% in 2003. The 2003 level of giving to Benevolences as a percent of income was the lowest in the 1968-2003 period.
 
•    Benevolences, the subcategory of Total Contributions that funds the larger mission of the church beyond the local congregation, decreased 42% as a portion of income, from 0.66% in 1968 to 0.38% in 2003. The 2003 level of giving to Benevolences as a percent of income was the lowest in the 1968-2003 period.
 
•    In 1968, 21 of every dollar donated was allocated to Benevolences. By 2003, 15 of every dollar went to Benevolences. Of each additional inflation-adjusted dollar donated to the church between 1968 and 2003, 94 went to Congregational Finances.
 
•    If the portion of income donated to the church had not declined between 1968 and 2003, congregations and denominations would have had, in aggregate dollars, 72%, or $2.2 billion more for Benevolences, funding the larger mission of the church, than the amount actually donated in 2003.




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