Survey: Recession's effects fading for some churches
March 30th, 2011
12:22 PM ET

Survey: Recession's effects fading for some churches

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The worst of the recession may be over for some of America’s churches, a survey released Wednesday on religions donations indicated.

According to the survey, called State of the Plate, 43% of churches saw a rise in contributions in 2010, compared to 36% that saw an increase the year before.

Meanwhile, 39% of churches saw their giving dip last year, down from 47% that reported declines in 2009.

The survey, which is not scientific, garnered responses in February and March from 1,507 churches, most of them U.S.-based. The survey included responses from 86 churches from other countries, primarily Canada.

“Giving increases have begun to provide a glimmer of hope for many churches,” the survey reported.

The economic recession has taken a financial toll on many churches, with some filing for bankruptcy or struggling to hold onto property.

Smaller churches were hardest hit in 2010, with about 4 in 10 seeing contributions decline, compared to 3 in 10 megachurches – those with 2,000 or more weekly attendees.

The survey was co-sponsored by Christian ministry Maximum Generosity, publisher Christianity Today International and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Churches responding to the survey represent evangelical (24%), Baptist (23%), Independent/Non-denominational (21%), mainline Protestant (13%), Charismatic/Pentecostal (12%), Catholic/Orthodox (2%) and other Christian traditions (5%).

The survey also asked about President Barack Obama’s proposal to reduce tax deductions for charitable donations among wealthy Americans, with 9 in 10 churches reporting they would be negatively affected by such a move.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Money & Faith

soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Religion is just another business in this country. When I go to church or turn on the television, the first word out of the minister's mouth is a plea for money. "We are doing the Lord's work so send us your money. The Lord can't wait for a check so give us your credit card number." Some senile church ladies have signed their house over to these false prophets.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • ScottK

      Its because many people are not very smart and are easily fooled, and its just too easy for a fast talking salesman, regardless of what he's selling, to take advantage of them. Take this recent CA Sherrifs log for example:

      Date of Report: 3/23/2011
      Synopsis: A scam was perpetrated against a women who received a telephone call from a stranger telling her that her grandson was in jail. This person identified himself as Jim Palmer and told this women to wire him money ($6000.00) right away to get her grandson out of jail. She wired this money to Lexington, Kentucky.

      If there is a sucker born every minute that just means Churches may never die...

      March 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  2. Walker

    You want to reduce the deficit? Let's get rid of the tax loophole that allows the big business of god to go untaxed.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • JackoB

      Let's do away with the whole bill of rights, while we're at it!

      March 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  3. Brad

    Good, the more christianls give to the church, the less money they will have to go roaming around on the streets.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Trib

      But what about the men on the street trying to make a living? And their m*th dealers? Where would they be without the support of people like Ted Haggard? 😉

      March 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  4. Trib

    Taxing the churches would be a great way to help the deficit.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  5. Ray

    I am a staff minister and believe it or not out there, this is one of the things that embarrass me the most about the church. I see some ministers getting more and more affluent while the majority, even myself, continues to suffer – claiming, there is no recession in the "Kingdom". That is true but they say this all while denying me a raise or paying me less than I am worth.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Jealous much?

      March 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • ScottK

      Hey, if you have to handle a priests staff in any fashion you should be getting paid well... just ask an alter boy after the Church pays off his parents...

      March 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Ray- It is up to the members of the church to keep things running smoothly. If you feel that you are unable to appraoch the head os the Church to talk about such things, there are bigger problems than just salary.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  6. William Demuth


    Now hopefully the Sweet Baby Jesus will stop all the killing and warfare.

    But, if not, just send me $9.95 and I GUARANTEE to save your soul!

    (Hey, isn't that extortion?)

    March 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Your Pastor

      Jesus wants a lot more than $9.99 for saving a soul. He wants 15% of everything you make for the rest of your life. Jesus is not a cut-rate soul-saver. And neither is anyone who works for him.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  7. Don

    The flock has been talked into giving more of their money in this time of crisis, idiots!

    March 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  8. Lizzy Taylor

    More proof organized religion is a business and not a function of spitiuality. All ye people of "faith", you are being fleeced. Wise up and stop worshipping false idols (i.e, churches and preachers).

    March 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  9. Tilton

    There's no such thing as religion when it comes to the almighty dollar!

    March 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  10. Chanselor Jenkins

    Eat, drink, and be merry.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  11. Gus

    Good with the extra money they can pay off more guys that the priests will molest. There really is no need for churches, they exist just to collect your money.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  12. Observer

    How can the Republicans trash Obama for this? They'll try to find a way.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • ScottK

      Well the FOX talking points will be "Church donations on the rise! This is obviously the people turning back to God and away from the Liberal agenda of this President! They are voting for conservative values with their money and are taking America back to its Christian roots!..." The facts won't get in the way of what a moron wants to believe.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Lush Rimbaugh


      March 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  13. William Demuth

    Little boys beware.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  14. GSmith

    Praise the Lord! Now Pastor can go buy another new car.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Scott

    Churches have become nothing more than political branches of the Republican Party and should be taxed the same way other political organizations are.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  16. Dan

    So churches can go back to not feeding the poor, not paying taxes, not caring for of the elderly but lining the pockets of congressmen to get even more political power? Awesome. The big J will be thrilled.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • ScottK

      You forgot touching & fondling which is why they need your donations... attorneys are not cheap.

      March 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Rich

    This is what you call survivorship bias.

    Those churches that ceased to exist because of declining donations are no longer in the survey pool.

    What a surprise. Religion doing bad "science".

    March 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  18. William Demuth

    Lets tax these charlatans!

    Defrauding little old ladies.


    March 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • joe08

      That hurts. Why are you attacking me?

      March 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Floyd

      Because he is a bully child and devoid of any compassion.
      I'd rather help pay for my place of worship and its charitable deeds (yes we help the poor, the needy, abused women, displaced and distraught people) than pay for someone else's abortion because they were irresponsible and/or selfish. We respect and cherish life.
      The science agenda: pay for as much un-necessary medication and medical procedures as possible while lining the pockets of the pharma companies. Talk about drinking the kool-aid.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Floyd, I think that's the "greed" agenda and not a "science" agenda you've got there.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  19. UncleM

    Tax them

    March 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Why did you even write this article? You yourself said that the data is not scientific.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Jcork

      When it comes to religion, does anything need to be scientific?


      March 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Zillah

      And the survey was done primarily in Canada, as well. This is just a troll article without any real substantive reporting.
      Bad Gilgoff! Bad!

      March 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • ScottK

      "The Angel polls are in and they are looking very good for the economy! 56% believe the worst is over with 28% very sure that Charlie Sheen is still saveable. The Cherub's are all voting for more candy this Easter & the Saints polls are not looking as good with most voting for Butler to win the NCAA's which will mean lower turn out at Church in Indiana for the coming week." F A U X NEWS Phone-e Religious poll...

      March 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Christ can't be Canadian, because they don't have enough wise men or virgins.

      March 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Silver Chair


      Re-read the fourth paragraph please. Geesh!

      March 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.