The Common Good
March 2009

The Giving Plate

by Rose Marie Berger, Jeannie Choi | March 2009

In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depres­sion, tens of millions of Americans have suffered substantial financial losses, with many losing their savings, homes, and ...

In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depres­sion, tens of millions of Americans have suffered substantial financial losses, with many losing their savings, homes, and jobs. An estimated two out of every three families have been noticeably affected by the financial setbacks in the United States, and nearly one out of every four individuals surveyed say they have been impacted in a “major way,” according to a report from The Barna Group. Among those hardest hit are churches and nonprofit organizations, which stand to lose an estimated several billion dollars in donations.

  • 150 million. The number of adults who say they have been affected by the economic crisis, with 20 percent of U.S. households decreasing their overall giving to churches or other religious centers.
  • 31. Percentage of Americans who have lost 20 percent or more of their retirement fund value who have decreased their church donations.

  • 35. Percentage of church attendees surveyed who have seen their church address the financial crisis in some way, either through a program, sermon, or direct monetary assistance.
  • 31. Percentage of adults who have already reduced the amount of money they planned on donating to nonprofit organizations. Among these, 53 percent have simultaneously decreased the amount they give to their church.

Sources: “Churches Stand to Lose Several Billion Dollars in Lost Donations Due to Economic Downturn” (2008), The Barna Group; “Weathering an Uncertain Economy,” The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

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