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Theories on Low Catholic Giving: Part Two

16 Jul. 2013 Posted by Denis Greene in Stewardship

Church Development looks at some more expert opinions as to why Catholic giving is lower than that of Protestants.

Last time, I covered some viewpoints on what makes Catholic lower givers. These included alienation from the laity regarding controversial teaching; not focusing on personal ability to give; parish size; and not having a sense of competition with differing faiths in the area.

Let’s see what other experts have to say:

John and Sylvia Ronsvalle head up Empty Tomb, Inc. – a Christian research and service organization. They focused their analysis on cost differentials between Catholics and Protestants. They found that, “in many cases giving follows costs” (pp. 20). While a number of churches who aren’t meeting their budget may disagree with that assessment, the Ronsvalles went on to speculate that (comparatively) low compensation paid to Catholic clergy lowers giving. In short, if there’s no need, people don’t give.

A 1990 article in the National Catholic Reporter covered a couple of popular explanations: First, the perception that the Church is wealthy (again, no need, no giving). The second runs along a similar vein to Fr. Andrew Greeley’s theory over the laity’s dissatisfaction regarding Church teaching with which they disagree. The article, “Rising Costs, Low Contributions Spell Red Ink for U.S. Dioceses,” raised the theory that the laity is dissatisfied with their lack of participation and sway in the Church’s decision-making, particularly in the area of finances—an area where many feel there’s little accountability.

Fr. Thomas Sweester, founder and co-director of the Parish Evaluation Project, had his own reasons—19 of them, in fact. These 19 reasons again include Fr. Greeley’s alienation theory and the two popular assumptions listed above. Two more reasons Sweester listed were, a) parishes lacking participative and inclusive leaders; and b) the lack of planned giving. As some parishes stick with mostly weekly plate collections, many might not even know how much they give in a year.

We’re still not done though: More theories to come next time.

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Source: Charles Zech’s Why Catholics Don’t Give… And What Can Be Done About It 

Denis Greene is the Founder and President of Church Development.  He is the author of The Stewardship SystemStewardship-Based Capital Campaigns, and How To Ask For Donations as well as numerous articles on stewardship. Denis has helped over 200 churches across the USA raise more than $200,000,000. 

A complete list of Church Development’s services (including capital campaign management and consultation, feasibility studies, and year-round stewardship ministry programming) is available here.