Reflections on the latest Christian giving survey

By Anthony McKernan | 10 September 2010


Obtaining accurate figures on the level of Christian giving in the UK is difficult, requiring the piecing together of  different sources.

The most recent addition, and very welcome, is the report "Why Christians Give", produced by McConkey Johnston, authored by Redina Kolaneci and based on  a survey of members of the Evangelical Alliance. The report is clear and deliberately expands on the data to provide reflections and challenges for church leaders and charity fundraisers. A recommended read.

There is much to encourage us. The evangelicals surveyed gave 11.5% of their household income with 6.5% going to their local church and the reminder to other charities. We read of the rise of legacy giving, the commitment to regular giving during the recession and the importance that faith continues to play in giving decisions.

It is concerning that there was lack of evidence of real stewardship teaching in the churches of those interviewed and I was surprised that when asked where they would give away a gift of £100, nearly 40% said they would share it between charities -  which seems a bit stingy to me.

The other points of concern in the report almost certainly relate to the fact that the respondents are part of the ageing  population of evangelicals. Only 3% were under the age of 35 with 66% over the age of 55. This is a factor of the database  used to sample the survey respondents - the Evangelical Alliance database of individual members. We should therefore be cautious about extrapolating the findings to all evangelcials. 80% of those in the survey didn't have any dependents at home and 34% had household incomes of £40,000 or more which tells us something of the sort of people providing the answers.

That said, the giving habits of this group are excellent, reflecting real generosity, loyalty and care for the work of God locally and internationally. As the author astutely points out, engaging those in their 20's and 30's is crucial because regular giving from the mid 30's usually results in a long term commitment. However this age group expect different and higher standards of communication. And I wonder to what extent the giving habits of their parents, the kind of people in this survey, will pass from one generation to the next.

The report confirmed that evangelical givers spend plenty of time online, yet apparently do little of their giving online. I suppose this is because much of their giving is regular and planned in nature, not something that can be managed easily online - unless you have a Stewardship Account!

The arrival of Stewardship's online giving service now enables these kinds of donors to enjoy setting up regular giving,  amending it when needed, and the making of one-off donations, whether by credit/debit card or from their giving balance.

Stewardship's own figures of Christian giving affirm the commitment of evangelicals to regular planned giving which continues to hold up during difficult and uncertain economic times.

 

Anthony McKernan

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