Research reveals compelling new insights on the state of Catholic donors and donations from 2018 to 2022
Florence, S.C., February 9, 2023 — A new study from a partnership between ACS Technologies and Villanova University’s Center for Church Management in the Villanova School of Business examined the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on church giving. The inaugural report released today sampled nearly 1,000 U.S. Catholic parishes in 43 states. The researchers found that, after an initial drop, total donations increased over pre-pandemic levels; however, when adjusted for inflation, parishes have 11% less to spend today than they did pre-pandemic.
“The results of this study can help church leadership understand how giving has changed for U.S. Catholics in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Terry Poplava, director of strategic expertise at ACS Technologies. “Leaders at churches impacted may be wondering how to move forward, increase the number of donors and strengthen their overall financial health – our expertise and years of data can be leveraged to develop personalized solutions for each and every church’s needs.”
As shutdowns began and churches closed in March 2020, many wondered how these events would shape Catholics’ participation in the obligations of discipleship. The observed impact on collections was most significant beginning in April 2020, coinciding with a decrease in Mass attendance. Since then, 48% of parishes experienced an increase in giving, while 47% experienced a decline. Parishes in the south and west fared better, with increased giving over pre-pandemic levels, while parishes in the northeast and midwest fared worse as giving declined.
The researchers also looked at donations on an individual scale. The number of donors decreased by 26% initially and is still below pre-pandemic numbers by 16%. Now, fewer donors are contributing more to fund parish life – per-person giving increased 24% in the first 12 months of the pandemic and has remained at about the same level ever since. While this is good news from a generosity perspective, it is ominous news from a sustainability perspective.
“Our partnership with Villanova to manage, organize and analyze five years’ worth of data from multiple sources brought to light meaningful, macro trends in giving,” said Steve Cumbia, vice president of data at ACS Technologies.
“The rebound from the COVID-19 drop in 2020 and the subsequent increase in giving over pre-pandemic levels is good news and should be celebrated. This is a sign of hope for the future,” said Matt Manion, faculty director for the Center for Church Management.
ACS Technologies and Villanova are working together with the like-minded goal of helping church leaders strengthen their ministry, incorporating Villanova’s data analysis to utilize over 40 years of unique and extensive data expertise in church practices and behavior from ACS Technologies. Soon to come are studies on the African American church, Southern Baptist, Methodist, and others. With years of experience and a passion for the church, backed by research and applied data, ACS Technologies is expanding its resources and services that help address the big problems experienced across the Church today.
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For more information and a complete press kit, visit www.acst.com/presskit-covidcatholicgiving/.
Terry Poplava is available for comment. To request an interview, contact Carrie Kline at email@example.com.
About ACS Technologies
Founded in 1978, ACS Technologies is the leading, most comprehensive provider of church ministry tools, support and expertise solutions to nearly 50,000 churches, schools, dioceses, and denominational offices. With the mission to enable everyone in the Church with a personalized ministry environment to make God-honoring decisions in actionable ways. ACS Technologies desires to build the Kingdom by being a trusted ministry partner in the daily life of every church. ACS Technologies stands apart by providing a whole church approach, meeting the needs of the denomination/diocese, pastor/priest, staff/volunteers, and congregants/parishioners with unique value to each role with each ministry goal. ACS Technologies is a privately held independent Christian family-led company based out of Florence, SC, with remote team members across the U.S.
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About Villanova University’s Center for Church Management in the Villanova School of Business
The Villanova School of Business’s Center for Church Management enables current and future church leaders to steward the human, financial, and other resources of the church by teaching business best practices in a Christian context of mission and ministry. CCM offers the world’s first and only Master of Science in Church Management, as well as performing research and conducting non-credit programs in church management throughout the year.