Survey: slow economy hurting churches' ability to help the poor
Parishes report increasing requests for help, but less money with which to lend a hand
BY: Rob Kerby
congregations are, on average, considerably smaller than the Evangelicals.
Most churches reported a greater need for help
In the new study, Catholic parishes across the country were found to be more in line with the Evangelicals with about 39 percent of their budget on salaries and benefits.
Of the church administrators and treasurers surveyed:
39.7 percent said their parish’s financial health was in good or excellent condition – that’s down from 42.9 percent in 2005.
More than half — 56.8 percent – said their church’s income had declined during the recession. To deal with that financial decline:
21.9 percent had reduced their staff
51.8 percent had frozen or reduced staff salaries
29.2 percent had left vacant staff positions go unfilled
52.5 percent said a building program or capital campaign had been impacted
55.2 percent found their funding for missions and charitable work affected
Churches are being asked to do more with less.
The latter was tough to deal with, parishes said, since they are being called upon to do more to help parishioners in need:
62 percent had received emergency requests from community members facing homelessness
85 percent reported increased requests for financial assistance for such things as utilities and medical bills
And a whopping 92.3 percent said they had felt the economic downturn’s impact through increased unemployment among their parishioners.