The latest news from Faith Communities Today - exploring 2015-16 research findings from over 4400 American congregations.
Exploring Orthodox Generosity: Giving in US Orthodox Christian Parishes

Are patterns in member financial giving practices influenced by particular
Alms box in St.Peter's church, Kingerby, England, ca. 1639.
religious traditions? This month our own Alexei Krindatch, shares highlights from
 a 2015 national study, "Exploring Orthodox Generosity: Giving in US Orthodox Christian Parishes."  

This study is based on responses from over four hundred Orthodox parish
clergy and 2,988 lay church members representing all U.S. Orthodox Christian Churches.

While these patterns might be distinctive of Orthodox Churches, there are likely interesting ways religious researchers and leaders of many religious congregations can discern broader patterns, insights and challenges.

Members give 3%  
The median Orthodox household in America gave $2,100 annually to its local parish,  about 3% of its annual income before taxes. In addition, a typical Orthodox household gave $150 to non-parish Orthodox organizations or causes and $200 to non-Orthodox charities, not-for-profits or social causes.

Converts more generous 
Converts to Orthodoxy gave nearly twice as much annually to their parishes as "cradle" Orthodox members when measured in actual dollar amounts ($2,800 versus $ 1,500 median per household) and more than twice as much when donations were measured as a percentage of a household's income (4.9% versus 2.2%).

Older parishioners more generous  
T he study found that older parishioners gave much more than younger church members.  Households of s enior citizens (ages 65+) gave 3.3 times more ($4000 versus $1200 median) to their parishes than those of young adults (ages 18-34). Even in terms of percentage of income, senior citizen households gave 1.6 times more than young adult households (4% versus 2.5%).  

Low income households more generous 
While Orthodox households that earned more money typically 
gave  more to their parishes, when measured as a percentage of income, they were less generous than lower income households. Orthodox households earning between $30,000 and $49,999 gave 3.75% of their income (before taxes) to the parish, whereas households in the $90,000 - $109,999 income category gave only 2.5%.
Members give more to mission, vision and spiritual  growth
Parishes that encouraged members to be more generous because it would enhance their church's mission and create more opportunities for spiritual growth received much higher contributions than parishes that asked members to give to meet the various needs of a parish. The annual household contribution in parishes where giving was "mostly about vision for the parish's mission and opportunities for spiritual growth" was $2,400 compared to $1,650 where giving was "mostly about people's responsibility to address the needs of the parish."  
Members want to plan regular giving
The practice of the automated transfers of members' contributions from their accounts into parish accounts is virtually non-existent in US Orthodox Churches. Yet, a majority of parishioners (54%) affirm the idea of the monthly automatic transfers for giving to the parish. Remarkably, even among church members who reject in principle the practice of filling out annual giving pledge cards, one-third of these would accept a system of "monthly automatic deposits" from their personal accounts.
Out of various "techniques" that a parish can use to generate greater giving by members, the most efficient approach was being asked to give in person by the clergy.  40% of respondents reported that if they "were personally asked by my parish priest or bishop"they would likely give more.
Coming Soon:

In addition to web resources and other facts about congregational life in the US, we will highlight new findings from our 2015 national research including reports on religious congregational use of technology, and congregational growth and vitality.
Take FACT Data Further

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi and the Center for Congregations Engaging Young Adults Initiative have developed this free on-demand online course for congregation leaders that is based on research in our FACT 2015 "Engaging Young Adults" report
Resources Around the Web   

Want to learn more about what shapes contribution practices for individuals and groups? Check out these valuable online resources:

The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has developed research and resources on giving, as well as created the The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, for use by congregational leaders and members.

Rene Bekkers is Director of the Center for Philanthropic Studies  in Amsterdam and a prolific scholar of charitable giving, volunteering and philanthropy. Her  online CV  is a great place to start digging. You'll find several PDFs available for personal use, such as her recent contribution to  The Routledge Philanthropy Reader, "Eight Mechanisms That Drive Charitable Giving."   

The Science of Philanthropy Initiative out of the University of Chicago also provides resources on its website for scholars, teachers and practitioners interested in learning more about how, what and why people give.

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership offers resources on giving and generosity, church finances, and clergy personal finances.

The Ecumenical Stewardship Center provides resources for a variety of congregations across faith traditions.

Insights into Religion has curated some of the top congregational resources on stewardship and published them here

The Congregational Resource Guide from the Center for Congregations in Indiana has a number of resources for congregational finance and giving on its website.

Several Faith Communities Today partners and others provide resources for congregations around giving:
FACT 2015 Research Reports

Explore a summary of findings from our study of over 4400 congregations.

Examine extensive material from our survey on young adult ministry and uncover the patterns and dynamics of those congregations with significant percentages of persons 18-34 years old in their memberships.

Explore religious education and Sunday school programs patterns and key insights and action steps for leaders of religious congregations who want to improve their educational offerings.
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