FACTs on Finance: Trends in Congregational Economics from the Faith Communities Today 2020 Study
FACT 2020 Financial Report Summary of Findings
This report summarizes the financial findings of the 2020 Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey. The 2020 survey was the largest national survey of congregations ever conducted in the US, covering 15,278 congregations from 80 different denominations and faith traditions. Faith Communities Today has been tracking US religious trends since 2000.
This report focuses on the financial findings from the 2020 FACT survey. The focus is on congregational finances and presents an overview of how faith communities receive, manage, and spend resources. The report looks at finances in relationship to congregational size and religious tradition. The report also looks at online giving, an increasingly important source of income.
- Most congregations are small and have budgets under $100,000.
- Slightly more than half of American worshipers (51%) attend large congregations with budgets over $1,000,000.
- The median income or gifts was $120,000, which is a 20% decline from 2010.
- Congregational budget size is closely tied to attendance and participation.
- Smaller congregations have larger per capita incomes and expenses.
- Congregations with shrinking attendance have much higher per capita incomes and expenses than stable or growing congregations.
- Eighty-five percent of revenue is from participant contributions.
- Salaries are the largest share of expenses at 44%. Buildings make up another 26% of expenses.
- Most congregations, 66%, own their primary place of worship.
- While most congregations have full-time leadership, small congregations are much more likely to have a primary religious leader who is part-time.
- Reports of financial difficulty have stayed relatively stable since 2010. Most congregations report excellent or good financial health. Nineteen percent report financial difficulty.
- Congregations polled before COVID-19 lockdowns reported better financial health on average than those polled after lockdowns.
- Fifty-eight percent of congregations now use some form of online giving, a 27% increase since 2015.
- Congregations polled after COVD-19 lockdowns reported more online giving use than those polled before.
- Congregations using online giving have a higher per capita income
Insights, a bi-weekly e-newsletter, is a resource for the religious community and fundraisers of faith-based organizations that provides:
- Reflections on important developments in the field of faith and giving
- Recommended books, studies and articles
- Upcoming Lake Institute events