According to Barna Research Group, it was found that Americans donated significantly more money to non-profit organizations, including churches, in 2003 than in 2002, which also indicates recovery of national economy. The study also found that the percentage of adults who tithed to a church remained unchanged. The survey was conducted by telephone interviews with a nationwide random sample of 1014 adults in late January and early February of 2004
In 2003, 80% of all households donated some money to at least one non-profit organization with the total mean being $1079, which is $88 more than 2002. (8% increase) However it’s still 25% lower than what was donated in 1999.
Money donated specifically to churches continued to be dominant as 63% of Americans donated some money to a church. Overall, about three out of every four dollars donated by individuals in 2003 went to churches, representing 2.2% of gross income.
In total, 5% of American households gave tithe (10% of their pre-tax income) to either churches or non-profit organizations. Interestingly, only 7% of born again Christians had tithed to church in 2003, which shows not much of difference in 2002 (6%). The average giving to churches among the born again Christians turned out to be $1411 in 2003.
It was also found that Evangelical Christians were most likely to follow the system to giving tithe to churches (16%) whereas Catholics found to be least likely to offer tithe (1%). Besides Evangelicals, adults with an active faith (12%), African-Americans (7%) , and people with a gross income of $60,000 or more (7%) offered tithe to their churches.
George Barna commented on the survey saying that church giving will likely remain the same unless church leaders motivate people to give:
“Once a church establishes itself as being trustworthy in people’s minds, it will raise a minimal amount of money from attenders. However, to significantly increase people’s willingness to give generously, a church must speak to the issues that get people excited. The leader, first and foremost, must present a compelling vision for the ministry – not simply keeping the doors open and the programs running, but a clear and energizing goal that describes how lives will be transformed by the church if people contribute their time, money and skills. Related to that vision,” Barna continued, “the church must then impress potential donors with its ability to minister in ways that are efficient, effective, satisfying urgent needs, providing personal benefits, and incorporating donors into the heart of the effort to bring about serious life-change. Most donors give a modest sum of money out of habit, guilt or hope, but are not moved to share or sacrifice in a bigger way because they do not sense that the church is revolutionizing the community.”
He also emphasized the best way to motivate people to invest and offer money to churches is by letting them know clearly why the organization exists and by stimulating them with “distinctive and impactiful” activity created by the organization.