PARISH giving has risen to its highest level on record, to almost £1 billion. But the figures for 2013, the latest available, also show that the number of donors has shrunk.
The Church of England’s 12,500 parishes raised £953 million in 2013, statistics published yesterday by the Archbishops’ Council show. This is an increase of £24 million from 2012.
A one-per-cent cut in expenditure to £920 million means a £33 million surplus. The first surplus since 2007 was generated in 2012 — to £0.2 million, compared with £60 million generated in 2007, before the economic downturn.
This week’s report also warns that parish income has not kept up with inflation. In real terms, 2013 income was at similar levels to 2003. Income from collections has remained relatively stable since 2003, but, after adjusting for inflation, there has been a real-term drop during the decade.
Average weekly giving per “tax-efficient planned giver” (individuals who make regular Gift Aid donations, and covenanters) is £11.60 a week, a rise of 4.5 per cent on 2012. Average weekly giving per churchgoer rose to £7 in 2013, matching the peak recorded in 2009.
The average member contributed 3.3 per cent of weekly income to the Church in 2013, but this varied across the country, from 4.1 per cent in Sheffield to 2.2 per cent in Truro.
The weekly amount of unrestricted money donated to parishes through direct giving per church member varied from £6.10 in Truro to £15.10 in London.
The data also shows a decrease in the number of regular donors: down 2.8 per cent from 2012 to 476,800.
Churches are cutting expenditure. There was a 15.5-per-cent fall in spending on substantial repairs and new buildings between 2012 and 2013.
Big areas of expenditure were the parish share (up 0.9 per cent to £316 million) and parish running costs (up 6.1 per cent to £148 million). Between 2007 and 2013, utility-bill costs rose by 18 per cent, and churches increased spending on salaries and support costs by nine per cent to £94 million.
In addition to supporting the work of the Church at local, diocesan, and national level, parishes gave more than £46 million to other organisations working around the world.
Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser, said: “Post-downturn, people have really looked at what is important to them, and found a sense of community and belonging within the Church.”
He has previously noted that, on average, about half of a parish’s income is given by about 20 per cent of those who give (News, 15 August).
Question of the week: Regardless of the amount given, are there fewer people donating to your church than in previous years?