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COVID-19’s impact on faith-based giving

By Amelia Becker
July 2, 2020

Cover of Giving in Faith

Places of worship often serve as centers for community, a role that has expanded for many during the Coronavirus pandemic as churches provide food, clothing, and other forms of support for their members and communities. Yet as many places of worship closed to the public for social distancing, they could no longer rely on in-person donations during services to ensure their financial sustainability. In response, many faith-based organizations turned to technology.

A new report by Givelify, a mobile giving app, explores giving to places of worship during the Coronavirus pandemic. Giving in Faith: How Coronavirus Widened the Digital Divide draws on surveys from more than 400 faith leaders and 300 congregants as well as data from the Givelify app. The report offers several key findings about how giving to places of worship has changed during the pandemic and a look at the future of faith-based giving.

  • “Giving to churches increased or remained steady during COVID-19.”
    Some 55 percent of organizations surveyed reported that donations remained consistent or increased throughout social distancing measures, with 25 percent saying donations stayed about the same and 27 percent saying donations increased moderately. Further, the majority of respondents said they would give the same amount or more online than they would in person.
  • “Digitally savvy faith-based organizations fared better financially during COVID-19.”
    Organizations with a significant online presence saw 533 percent more donations than those that were less technically savvy . Faith-based organizations with a strong digital presence, including websites, live streaming, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, were among those that saw the most donations.
  • “Faith-based giving is not exclusive to one place of worship.”
    Nearly 20 percent of donors gave to multiple places of worship during the pandemic. Donors who mainly gave online or via mobile platforms were more than 325 percent more likely to give to two or more organizations.
  • The pandemic may accelerate a longer-term digital transformation, moving church giving primarily online.
    Faith leaders cited older, less tech-savvy congregations, security fears, and costs as reasons for not adopting online giving measures sooner. Now, 94 percent of faith leaders say online giving is here to stay. Some 92 percent of donors say they will continue to donate primarily online once the pandemic is over.

As many organizations cope with the challenges presented by the pandemic, places of worship are also working to adapt. Online and mobile giving provides a way for places of worship to cope with the financial instability caused by the pandemic. In many cases, faith-based organizations may continue to embrace it after the pandemic is over.

Tags: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19); Giving; Annual reports