2017 State of Giving Report

ECFA Research Finds Charitable Giving Is Up Among Christian Ministries and Donor-Advised Funds.

WINCHESTER, Va., Nov. 28, 2017—The latest numbers from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) show steady increases in giving to Christian ministries. In ECFA’s eighth annual State of Giving report, data reported by 1,842 member organizations shows annual cash giving to ECFA-accredited organizations increased 2.2 percent between 2015 and 2016. The State of Giving report reflects total cash donations of $12.6 billion in 2016, an increase from the previous year’s $12.3 billion.

2017 State of Giving Report Reveals Donations Steadily Increasing

“We are encouraged to see donations to our member organizations continuing to increase each year,” said Dan Busby, ECFA president and CEO. “Members of ECFA are doing wonderful work to serve people in need in myriad ways, and donations made to these ministries are being used to make the world a better place.”

The report notes giving to ECFA members that offer donor-advised funds increased by 13.0 percent, consistent with giving to donor-advised funds in general.

The ECFA report breaks down $16.2 billion of giving ($12.6 billion in cash and $3.6 billion in non-cash) to members, including churches and nonprofit organizations of various types.

The most significant cash-giving increases occurred in the following categories:

  • Literature publishing/distribution (13.2 percent growth)
  • Adoption (11.4 percent growth)
  • Camps and conferences (10.1 percent growth)

Summary of Change in Cash Contributions 

Organizational Segment 2015 to 2016 2014 to 2015
Adoption 11.4% 8.4%
Alcohol/drug Rehabilitation -5.4% 13.1%
Associations 5.5% 6.3%
Bible Study 4.9% 2.8%
Camps and Conferences 10.1% 21.2%
Child Sponsorship 4.5% 7.0%
Children’s Homes and Orphan Care 5.2% 11.1%
Church: Denominations 0.4% 8.8%
Church: Local 2.5% 3.1%
Community Development -2.6% 11.7%
Education: Higher Education -8.3% 11.0%
Education: K-12 5.7% 2.9%
Evangelism 3.9% 7.1%
Leadership Training 6.0% 5.0%
Literature Publishing 13.2% -0.7%
Media 1.9% 2.2%
Medical 5.8% 2.6%
Missions: International 0.7% 4.0%
Missions: Domestic 2.0% -0.3%
Missions: Short-term -1.4% 25.2%
Other 0.8% 20.8%
Pregnancy Resource Centers 4.6% 6.5%
Prison 6.0% 11.7%
Relief and Development -1.2% -13.8%
Rescue Missions 0.8% 3.6%
Student/Youth 4.0% 8.2%
 Year-to-Year Change 2.2% 2.2%

The report reflected slightly stronger cash giving increases to larger charities, compared to smaller ones.

Annual Revenue 2016 2015
Under $1 million -2.1% -1.1%
$1 to $5 million 2.4% 6.5%
$5 to $10 million 2.4% 3.5%
$10 to $25 million 2.6% 4.1%
$25 to $50 million 3.4% 4.6%
Over $50 million 1.7% 0.7%


While ECFA’s report focuses on cash giving, non-cash giving also increased 3.6 percent in 2016 based on $3.6 billion of gifts. ECFA currently has nearly 2,200 accredited members, however, some members were not included in this study because they were accredited by ECFA in the last two years, and comparable financial data for previous years is not available. The data, unadjusted for inflation, is not from surveys of the member organizations, but comes directly from financial statements prepared by independently certified public accountants—primarily audits.

About ECFA

ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. For more information about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit ECFA.org or call 800.323.9473.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.


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