NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Financial contributions to churches were up as a portion of income in 2005 when church members gave 2.58 percent of their income, up from 2.56 percent the previous year, according to a report by empty tomb, inc. that examined the giving trends of church members in the United States.
An analysis of the 2005 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey revealed that giving to “church, other religious organizations” accounted for 72 percent of funds directed to charity.
That makes religious groups the largest recipient by U.S. region, age and income brackets, empty tomb said, suggesting that religious values are the chief motivation for most charitable giving.
Also, the under-25 age group gave 87 percent of their donations to “church, religious organizations,” which may indicate that religious teachings form philanthropic values in the United States, empty tomb said in an Oct. 3 news release.
The Illinois-based Christian research organization found that giving to benevolent causes — activities focused outside the congregation — as a portion of income increased slightly in 2005 from 0.38 to 0.39 percent.
Empty tomb reported the rate of giving to congregational finances — the funding of internal operations of the congregation — rose in 2005 from 2.18 to 2.20 percent as a portion of income.
For each dollar donated to a congregation, denominations spent 2.2 cents on international missions in 2005, down from 7 cents in the 1920s. The study’s authors, John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, said evangelical Christians could complete the task of global evangelization for 7 cents per member per day.
“Had giving been at an average of 10 percent in 2005 rather than 2.58 percent, there would have been at least an additional $168 billion available for the overseas and domestic mission work of churches,” the authors noted.
Using statistics published by the Southern Baptist Convention for 2005, empty tomb determined that 2 cents of each dollar given to an SBC church ultimately goes to overseas work. Primitive Methodists and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church give 9 cents per dollar, and the Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) give 1 cent per dollar to international missions, the report said.
Residents of the South, empty tomb found, gave the largest portion of income to charitable causes in 2005, while residents in the Northeast gave the smallest portion. The Midwest was second and the West, where residents spent the highest portion of income on living expenses of the four regions, was third.
Additional data is available through the empty tomb website, www.emptytomb.org, and the entire report will be available Oct. 15 in a book called “The State of Church Giving through 2005,” the 17th edition in a series.