The latest numbers are out and once again show that Church of England members have increased the level of their giving. The average weekly gift for all planned givers is now more than £10, and for those who give under Gift Aid, it’s now £11.60 per week (excluding the Gift Aid reclaimed on their giving).
According to the Charities Aid Foundation’s UK Giving Report for 2014, just over half (57%) of the population had participated in a giving or social action activity in the last month, and that across their survey the typical monthly amount given by a donor in 2014 was £14.
Considering their giving to the Church alone this means church members are three times more generous than the population at large. But church members also support other causes and charities – and surveys have shown that on average that only about half of church members’ giving comes to the church. This makes church members a staggering six times more generous than the average UK citizen. The CAF report estimates that total amount donated to charity by UK adults in 2014 was £10.6 billion, and our 2013 statistics suggest that Church of England members may have donated nearly 9% of that.
In the context of income, the average ‘Church member’ contributed 3.3% of their income to the Church – 2.9% to general funds, and a further 0.4% to special purpose funds for building maintenance and youth work, for example. The giving of time by church members is equally generous, whether to the church or by volunteering with local community organisations.
And yet, despite a steady growth in generosity with levels of giving steadily over time, and despite the percentage of average income the giving of church members tripling from the 1.1% we saw 35 years ago, the challenge to give generously remains.
The Church of England’s General Synod encourages church members to give proportionately: 5% of their income to and through the church, and a further 5% to other organizations that help build God’s kingdom. The averages are still some way off that mark, although unquestionably many church members are giving away a tenth of their income.
The target is not the most important thing – what matters most is that as we give, so we grow. We grow in our understanding of God’s blessing to us, and little by little we are transformed and start to resemble the character of a generous God who never ceases to give and to bless. There is no end to his generosity.
John Preston National Stewardship Officer, Church of England