Charitable donations to a diversity of Christian organizations including churches, schools and advocacy groups increased in 2015 over the previous year, according to the latest statistics released by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).
The 12.5 billion given in 2015 was 2.2 percent greater than 2014’s giving of $12.2 billion, ECFA said, based on official audits and other financial statements of 1,816 of the more than 2,100 non-profit members accredited by the ECFA, including many Southern Baptists.
“Both new and long-standing donors are continuing to give faithfully to support the important work of our member organizations,” ECFA president and CEO Dan Busby said in a press release. “It is encouraging to see generosity in action.”
While the study was based on financial data only from groups accredited by the Winchester, Va., based organization, Busby said the findings are supported by studies from others.
“The 2.2 percent increase reported in ECFA’s State of Giving compares closely to the 2.7 percent increase in giving to religious groups recently reported by Giving USA,” Busby told Baptist Press. “Additionally, similarly to what has been reported by Christian and secular organizations, ECFA found that giving to donor advised funds was up 25 percent.”
The Giving USA Foundation annual study, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, estimates giving to all charitable groups in the United States. The study calculates total giving by about 53 million households, 16 million corporations, over a million estates, and some 82,000 foundations, according to the website of the Giving USA philanthropic study group.
A stronger economy is the “biggest driver of increases in charitable giving,” Busby said.
The most significant increases in cash donations, ECFA found, occurred in the categories of short-term missions, 25.2 percent; camps and conferences, 21.2 percent; drug and alcohol-related outreaches, 13.1 percent; orphan care, 12.4 percent; community development, 11.7 percent; and prison-related outreaches, 11.7 percent. However the study results, available at ecfa.org/Content/2016-State-of-Giving, does not include specific dollar amounts in each category of giving.
Among Southern Baptist groups included in the ECFA study are the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Colorado Baptist General Convention, the Louisiana Baptist Foundation, the Tennessee Baptist Foundation, and the Missouri Baptist Foundation, First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla., and Providence Baptist Church of Raleigh, N.C.
Among ECFA’s nearly 100 charter members are Compassion International, Cru, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago and Wycliffe Bible Translators.
While the EFCA study focuses on cash donations, the study also found an increase in non-cash giving of 7.5 percent based on gifts valued at a total of $3.5 billion in 2015.
Founded in 1979, ECFA describes itself as providing accreditation to “leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)