Research on Religious Giving

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Wed, 01/01/1992

This grant supported cross- denominational research on religious giving in five U.S. church bodies: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Assemblies of God. Directed by Dean Hoge of Catholic University of America, this project studied giving patterns and congregational expenditures in each of the denominations, as well as the motivations of church members in giving and their attitudes towards how churches and denominations spend the money they have received. A total of 125 congregations, in nine geographically disparate sampling locations, in each of the five denominations were studied. Each congregation was visited, financial records were analyzed, and a random sample of church members were interviewed and/or surveyed (10,902 mailed surveys were received). The results have been published in numerous articles by Hoge and his colleagues, and in Money Matters: Personal Giving in American Churches by Hoge, Charles Zech, Patrick McNamara and Michael J. Donahue. The authors conclude that individuals vary in their giving according to family income, age, religious beliefs, level of involvement in the church, feelings about the church, and practices regarding planning their giving. The Assembly of God congregations had the highest level of average giving by members (5% of personal income), followed by Southern Baptist congregations (2.7%). Presbyterian and Lutheran churches had lower levels of giving (both 1.6%), and the Catholic Church had the lowest average of giving (1.2% of personal income). (SM)