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Income Ratio for Churches: Annual Contributions per Average Adult Attendee

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As we recently announced, the CapinCrouse Church Financial Health Index website now showcases three real-time database averages of specific ratios in the Index. Subscribers can log in to see additional comparative information.

One is a key income ratio for churches: Annual Contributions per Average Adult Attendee. It is calculated as:

Total Contributions — Large One-time Gifts
Average Adult Attendees

This calculation, which removes the effect of large one-time (unusual) gifts, takes the total of all gifts — both restricted and unrestricted (also referred to as designated and undesignated gifts). It can be compared from year to year, allowing you to see the trends and determine the impact on your church and its budget. The average of this ratio shows an increase in annual giving of participating churches between years.

Benchmark

We recently revised our benchmark based on our review of current literature and experience with our church clients.

  • Good: Greater than $2,000 per average adult attendee
  • Above Average: Greater than $2,500 per average adult attendee
  • Strong: Greater than or equal to $3,000 per average adult attendee

While we recognize that these benchmarks may increase or decrease slightly with changes in economic conditions and that they are impacted by the average age and other inherent factors of the congregation, we have found them to be reasonable when compared to the averages calculated in the Index database.

Annual Contributions per Giving Unit

Another valuable income ratio for churches is Annual Contributions per Giving Unit, which is not shown on the Index login page but is available in the database. This measure introduces the concept of a “giving unit,” which is usually a group of family members who contribute jointly to the church. A giving unit is also defined as any recurring supporter of the ministry. This excludes the individual who may make a smaller one-time gift supporting an event, such as a short-term mission trip.

To identify the regular recurring giving units, the measure only includes giving units that contribute more than $250 annually to the church.

So you could use both of these measures in another valuable comparison: Calculating what contributions would be if every adult attendee or giving unit made a certain amount (e.g., $50,000 a year) and tithed on that amount.

Your church could use this measurement to make your congregation aware of what the current giving per adult attendee and giving unit is, what the projected giving would be if everyone participated, and how this compares to peer churches.

This is just one example of the ratios and measures available in the CapinCrouse Church Financial Health Index. We’ll discuss two other ratios in upcoming posts.

Index subscribers receive full access to a range of ratios and measures to assess and track their financial condition, along with benchmark and peer information, a report card of their church’s results, and more. See how the Index could benefit your church at capincrouse.com/church-financial-health.

Sarah Thompson

Sarah joined CapinCrouse in August 1997 and is a senior manager. She has acquired a broad range of experience through serving a wide range of clients within the nonprofit industry, including churches, colleges, seminaries, Christian schools, church extension funds, foundations, and voluntary health and welfare organizations. She presently manages the CapinCrouse Church Financial Health Index™ website and is the subject matter expert in this area.

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