Report: Nonprofits saw a sizable increase in donations, while many megachurches struggled.
Needs rose last year. But so did giving to evangelical ministries.
The annual State of Giving report from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) found giving to ministries increased more in 2021 than it had any year out of the last 10. Inflation and the pandemic both raised real concerns for ministry leaders trying to make ends meet, but evangelicals responded to the crises with generosity.
The ECFA survey of about 1,800 members found they received more than $19 billion in donations in 2021. Adjusting for inflation, giving went up by about 3 percent. In the last 10 years, the increase has been closer to 2 percent.
“Contrary to what many expected, giving during the pandemic to ECFA members was strong,” Michael Martin, ECFA president and CEO, wrote in the report. “The findings we unveil emphasize the good work that ECFA members are doing to serve and expand their services in the face of inflation and other challenges.”
If Christians are excited and optimistic about the work of parachurch organizations, though, the numbers reveal a different story when it comes to megachurches. The ECFA surveyed 87 churches that belong to the financial accountability organization. Giving to those congregations dropped by 6.6 percent in 2021, following a decline of 1.1 percent the year before.
Jake Lapp, ECFA vice president of member accountability, attributed the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some churches have reported that they are still only at 50 percent of pre-pandemic attendance.
“One of the big impacts is with churches not being able to meet or maybe meeting with limited capacity again,” Lapp said. “Congregants had been slow to return to the pews.”
The decline in giving …