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The State of Church Giving through 2003



Chapter 4 Highlights



Eleven denominations reported data on a fairly consistent basis from 1921 through 2003.

•     Per member giving as a portion of income was above three percent from 1922 through 1933 and again from 1958 through 1962. However, unlike after 1933, when the country was experiencing the Great Depression followed by World War II, no major national catastrophes explain the drop below 3% after 1962, and the following decline.
 
•     Per member giving as a percent of income began to decline in 1961, and membership as a percent of U.S. population began to decline in 1962. While giving as a portion of income showed an upward trend beginning in 1993, the decline in membership as a percent of U.S. population continued uninterrupted through the year 2003.
 
•     Considered in five-year segments as inflation-adjusted dollars between 1950 and 2003, the highest average annual rate of growth in per member giving in inflation-adjusted dollars was from 1995-2000. However, when the increase in dollars given was considered as a portion of average annual income increase, the highest rate was in the 1950-1955 segment, followed by 1955-1960.
 
•     Considered in five-year segments between 1950 and 2003, the highest annual average increase in giving as a percent of Disposable Personal Income was in 1950-1955, followed by 1950-1955. The highest rate of decline was 1960-1964.
 
•     Considered in five-year segments between 1950 and 2003, the highest annual average increase in membership as a percent of U.S. population was 1950-1955, with the period of 1964-1970 posting the highest rate of decline.
 
•     Giving as a percentage of income was lower in 2003 than in 1921 or in 1933, the depth of the Great Depression.
 




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