Learning Priorities and Social Networks Survey

SUMMARY

In September of 2009, members of ECCU’s Ministry Advisory Panel were asked about their short-term learning priorities. The vast majority identified learning about best-practices as their top priority. The survey also provided insight into ministries’ use of social networks. Finally, it also revealed that ministries’ quarterly revenue was higher than expected in light of the weak economy.

**The Ministry Advisory Panel is composed of ECCU member and non-member evangelical ministry staff and leaders representing churches, Christian schools, and other evangelical ministries. This report was produced by ECCU’s research department.

MINISTRY LEADERS’ TOP THREE LEARNING PRIORITIES

We asked panelists about their learning priorities when it comes to managing their ministry’s finances. As the following chart illustrates, here’s how they responded:

  • Overall, best-practices was the predominant theme for learning priorities in the coming year. Three responses—accounting best practices (26 percent), financial management best practices (17 percent), and general best practices (15 percent)—account for 58 percent of all respondents.
  • Earning CE credits and CPA/CB certifications was the single leading learning priority, representing 30 percent of all responses.
  • Software took the third spot at 22 percent. This included QuickBooks, school administration software, and general financial accounting software.

LEARNING VENUES

We also asked how panelists plan to accomplish their learning priorities. Of the six options given (see graph below), self-study appears to be the general approach ministries will take in the coming year to accomplish their top three learning priorities, with 71 percent of respondents choosing either books and magazines or the Internet. Some 29 percent plan to use a combination of these learning resources.

Overall, it seems that self-education is the trend for the coming year, perhaps as a result of tightening budgets. However, 35 percent of ministries plan to seek consultation. Examples would be to consult with ministry peers, accounting firms, and financial institutions that understand ministry and ministries’ financial needs.

SOCIAL NETWORKS

Another question we asked was how often panelists are using certain social networks. Their responses are reflected in the following chart:

The most popular social networks were Facebook and YouTube. Although YouTube had a larger number of users, Facebook had the highest frequency of use.

Twitter is quickly gaining in popularity amongst ministry staff and leaders. This response matches ECCU’s experience—we are finding Twitter to be valuable for facilitating timely communications on issues important to our membership.

SOCIAL NETWORKS FOR MINISTRY

We also asked how often panelists use these social networks in a ministry context. Here’s how they responded:

Although social networks are not a new phenomenon, the fact that almost 50 percent of all ministries are sporadically using them in a ministry context suggests a potentially unrealized opportunity to reach a broader audience.

CHANGE IN REVENUE: Q1 2009–Q2 2009

Next we sought to find out how ministry revenues have changed from the first quarter of 2009 to the second quarter. As the following chart shows:

  • 25 percent of ministries reported lower revenues in the second quarter of 2009.
  • Revenues were the same for 34 percent of the ministry respondents.
  • 41 percent of ministries reported higher revenues in the second quarter 2009 compared to the previous quarter.

CHANGE IN REVENUE Q2 2008–Q2 2009

Finally, we asked how revenues in the second quarter of 2009 compared with those of the same quarter a year ago. Here’s how panelists responded:

  • 38 percent of ministries reported lower revenues in the second quarter of 2009 than the same quarter last year.
  • Revenues were the same for only 13 percent of the ministry respondents.
  • 48 percent of ministries reported higher revenues in the second quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter last year.

 

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