The National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices

Congregations continue to receive the largest proportion of charitable giving in the U.S. – almost 29% of all giving. Religious affiliation and religious attendance also remain strong predicators of individuals’ giving. However, with declines in both religious affiliation and congregational membership, a smaller proportion of total charitable giving is going to congregations.

Most research on charitable giving, particularly faith-based giving, has focused on individuals (the givers) rather than institutions (the recipients of the giving). Despite the amount of money entrusted to them by individual givers, as well as the influential role they play in public life, very little is known about congregations’ economic practices.

As both trends in charitable giving and religious affiliation are experiencing significant change, there is a need to examine what is happening among arguably the largest recipient group of Americans’ giving.

NSCEP provides an overview of how congregations receive, manage, and spend their financial resources. Delving underneath these numbers, the report shows how congregations regard these financial resources: how their theological, cultural, and practical orientations toward money may relate to their finances and economic practices.

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The NSCEP research initiative began in 2016. With grant funding from Lilly Endowment, Inc., congregations were invited to participate in the survey in early 2018. By fall of 2018, analysis of survey data was well underway. The first of several reports released in fall 2019, with additional data analysis and expanded findings to follow in 2020.

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Contact Lake Institute on Faith & Giving

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