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From 1965 highs to the present, United Church of Canada people demographics have all trended downward1:
And yet, as the chart below shows, by and large, the Total Amount Raised for All Purposes has not dropped significantly:
The Total Amount did decline from 1964 to 1976, from $436,400,000 to $363,000,000, but regained this loss to reach $446,400,000 in 1987. In 2010, the Total Amount Raised was $393,800,000 a reduction of $52,600,000 or -12%.
What can also been seen from the chart is that the amount raised from Congregational Givings follows the pattern of the Total Amount Raised until 1987, and then begins a slightly faster rate of decline: from $332,900,000 in 1987 to $262,600,000 in 2010; a reduction of $70,300,000 or -21%. Whereas Identified Local Givers declined from 459,900 to 257,800; a change of -202,100 or -44% in this same period. So while the overall declines are worrisome, one piece of good news is that the amount per local giver has risen from $725 to $1,020.
The amount raised that is identified as from United Church women has declined from $49,200,000 in 1964 to $14,011,000 in 2010; a change of -$35,189,000 or -72% which parallels the change in United Church women’s groups membership.
However, whereas Congregational Givings and the UCW accounted for 92% of the Total Amount Raised in 1965, by 2010 that had fallen to 70%. The difference being made up by “Other Organizations, Sources, and Means” which has grown from $31,930,000 in 1965 to $117,200,000 in 2010; an increase of $85,270,000 or 267%.
“Other” is a large category that includes fowl suppers, choir concerts, and thrift sales. But I suspect the largest contributions are coming from rental and investment income. And while there is good news in having this extra income from rentals and investments to support our ministries, the danger is that this income masks the loss of people participating in the life of the congregation.
Rental and investment income allows a congregation to actually become non-sustainable as far as its people participation is concerned. There is a very real danger, especially in urban areas, for congregations to be able to continue to pay their bills while in fact the number of people participating in the life of the congregation has ceased to be viable.
The danger of the present trends can be seen if we ask, “What will the average Pastoral Charge be like in 2025 if the trends for the past 10 years continue unchanged?”
For our 100th Anniversary, the average for each of our 2,000 Pastoral Charges will be:
- 90 Resident Members
- 11 Average Weekly Worship attenders
- 60 Local Givers giving $1,920 each
- 15 M&S Givers giving $575 each
- 6 UCW members
- 10 Sunday School members
- Zero Baptisms, Marriages, and Professions of Faith
- Raising a total of $210,000 from Congregational Givings of $115,200, UCW givings of $4,100 and Other of $90,700 – 43% of the Total.
1 All data is from The United Church of Canada Year Book. Data has been rounded. Historical financial data has been adjusted for inflation based on the 2010 CPI.
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