Shared Values in Banking and Coping With Unemployment (2010 Financial Forums Survey Results)


In October 2010 ECCU and CapinCrouse, LLP, presented a series of resource events to educate ministry leaders about banking, legislative, accounting, and fundraising issues affecting ministries everywhere. Attendees were invited to complete a survey modeled after those sent to ECCU’s exclusive Ministry Advisory Panel (MAP).

On the issue of unemployment, 70% of respondents stated that their ministry has been affected by unemployment, and 61% of the respondents are proactively helping the unemployed. On the topic of shared values, two thirds of the ministry leaders who influenced bank selection at their current ministry care what causes their banks choose to invest in.


156 ministry leaders completed the survey, resulting in a 95% confidence level and a 7.84% confidence interval. The ministry types represented were:

Out of the 94 churches represented, 10 also have a K-12 Christian school, 1 has a college, and 1 has a parachurch ministry. These ministries have been categorized as churches for the remainder of the analysis.

78% of respondents held financial roles. The remaining 22% held leadership, administrative, or oversight roles.


When segmented by approximate annual revenue, ministry representation was equally diverse:

50% of respondents represented ministries with $1.5 million or more in annual revenue. Ministries below $500,000 in annual revenue accounted for 15% of respondents.


ECCU believes that our investment choices today can reap eternal dividends. This is why deposits at ECCU are used exclusively to support evangelical ministries and never for causes contrary to Scripture.

The next section of the survey sought to test our assumption that most ministry leaders share this value. After asking if the leaders had any influence in the decision to choose their ministry’s current primary bank, we asked this question of those who did influence this decision:

Question: How much did the causes this bank invests in influence your decision?

53% of the survey respondents had direct influence over the selection of their ministry’s primary bank. Of these, 61% said they were somewhat or extremely influenced by the causes their bank invested in.


We also wanted to know if ministry leaders would look favorably upon a bank that invested in or contributed to evangelical ministries and causes.

Question: How important is it to your ministry that your primary bank invests in or contributes to other evangelical ministries and causes?

20% (31 out of 156) of respondents believe it is not at all or not very important that their primary bank invest in evangelical ministries or causes. 52% of these ministries are parachurch organizations. Churches represented 35% of this segment.


History has proven that in times of need, people are more likely to reevaluate their spiritual life. During these times churches often see numeric growth and Christian non-profits experience a corresponding increase in demand for their services.

With a national unemployment rate in excess of 9% and projected to remain at high levels for at least two more years, most ministries are experiencing a greater drain on their resources as they seek to help their impacted members, while also seeing a decline in giving.

The responses to these questions offer a sense for what other ministries are experiencing and insights into how they are dealing with this issue.


Question: Has your ministry been affected by unemployment?

  • Of the 152 respondents to this question, 70% said their ministries have been affected by unemployment, leaving 30% of the ministries not affected by unemployment.
  • 7 of the 8 K-12 schools (88%) have been affected by unemployment.
  • 48 parachurch organizations are represented in this survey report. This group seems to be the least impacted by unemployment, with only 48% having been affected (versus 80% or more for the other ministry types).


We also asked respondents to describe how their ministries have been affected by unemployment. The free-text responses were grouped into seven categories:

  • 28% of respondents’ ministries affected by unemployment reported staff reductions. One ministry had to lay off one quarter of its staff in 2009 and reduce pay twice for remaining personnel. Another ministry reported laying off 60 people as a result of lower giving.
  • 26% of respondents estimate that 5% to 10% of their members are unemployed or underemployed, some for over two years.


This brings us to the question of what ministries are doing, if anything, to help the unemployed.

Question: Is your ministry doing anything to help the unemployed?

  • Only 1 out of the 5 colleges that reported being affected by unemployment is helping the unemployed.
  • Parachurch ministries seem to be picking up the slack with 6 of the 25 ministries not affected by unemployment implementing programs to help the unemployed.


As a follow-up question, we asked the ministry leaders to describe specifically how they are helping. The free-text responses were grouped into eleven categories:

  • Only 7% of the respondents specifically cited prayer as a way they are helping the unemployed.
  • When combining Housing/Utilities, Benevolence/Deacon’s Fund, and Financial/Tuition Assistance responses, over 72% of ministries are providing some sort of monetary assistance.

Here’s what other ministries have done:

  • Provided unemployment insurance
  • Participated in government programs for employment
  • Implemented transitional ministries
  • Provided mobile medical services
  • Offered after-school tutoring programs
  • Provided help for students


In January 2010 we asked members of ECCU’s Ministry Advisory Panel these same unemployment questions. Back then, 80% of ministries reported being directly affected by unemployment, 10% more than the 70% reported in this survey. However, in early 2010, 93% of ministries were proactively doing something to help the unemployed. This contrasts sharply with the 61% of ministries that reported the same in this survey.

With continually high unemployment rates and lower to flat revenues for most ministries, one can assume ministries simply don’t have the resources to help. Although 28% of ministries have already laid-off employees and cut their budgets, other ministries seem to be postponing the difficult decisions necessary to ensure their ongoing viability.

If you are unsure about where to go from here, please pray first, then seek help from financial experts, preferably ones that will also pray with you and for your ministry, and will walk you through your options. ECCU is always here to help.


If you found this survey report helpful, please pass it along to other members of your ministry team and peers using the Share with a Friend tool below.

Get Connected