Banking Loyalty Influencers and Quarterly Revenue Trends


In February 2010 we asked members of ECCU’s Ministry Advisory Panel (MAP)** to tell us what factors influence their decision to switch primary banks. Loan rates were cited most often as the reason for switching banks. More than 20% of responding ministries are considering switching banks in the coming year and 70% have a banking relationship with two or more financial institutions. Quarter-over-quarter trends show a marked improvement in revenue for Q4 2009 over Q3 2009. Year-over-year trends show only a very modest upward trend in revenue.

** The MAP 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.


We asked panelists a series of questions to identify factors that influence a ministry’s decision to switch primary banks.

Question: How many years have you been on staff at your ministry?

  • 39% of the panelists have been on staff at their current ministry five years or less.
  • 11% have been on staff at their current ministry more than 20 years.

Question: How many times has your ministry switched its primary bank (the financial institution where your main operational accounts are held) in the time you’ve been on staff?

  • 55% of respondents have never switched banks during the time they’ve been on staff.
  • 6% of respondents have seen their ministry switch banks three times or more during their tenure.

There is a direct and significant correlation between the number of years a financial decision maker has been on staff and the number of times their ministry has switched primary banks. The data suggests that a ministry whose financial decision maker has been on staff longer than five years is 35% more likely to switch primary banks than one whose financial decision maker is new to the organization. This increases to 69% if the financial decision maker has been on staff 10 years or more.

Although the factors that drive this correlation are unclear, one thing is certain—of the ministries that reported no inclination to change primary banks, 41% say it’s because of factors like the strength of their relationship with their bank, the bank’s excellent customer service and personnel, and because their bank understands ministry. Only 1% of these panelists mentioned price as a reason for keeping their primary bank, and 10% mentioned factors of convenience.

Question: Please rate how influential the following factors were in your ministry’s decision to switch its primary bank(s).

This chart depicts the top three and the bottom three factors that influenced panelists’ decisions to switch primary banks. It is not surprising to see that two price factors had the greatest influence for the 45% of ministries that switched primary banks. However, it’s not all about price, as evidenced by the number of ministries that chose relationship over price.

In addition to the categories listed above, respondents had the option to enter responses in an “Other” category. Here are some of their statements:

  • “Earnings credit on uninvested funds was three times higher at regional bank vs. national bank.”
  • “Secular banks don't ‘get it’ with Christian ministries.”

We also asked ministries if they are considering switching from their current primary bank in the coming year; 78% said no. Here are some reasons why the other 22% are considering switching banks:

  • “In my new position, we are with a large bank but want to make the change to ECCU, which I have worked with in the past. ECCU rates 10 with me as far as customer service and ease of business relations.”
  • “Social responsibility and conscience to mission”
  • “Cost savings and changes in service since the bank was purchased by a larger bank”
  • “Bank is operating under a cease and desist order”
  • “Lower fees elsewhere”
  • “Better banking relationship and special needs”
  • “Better loan rate and options for short-term investments”
  • “Current bank is being taken over by Fed and placed with another owner”
  • “Customer service and helpfulness of employees at the bank”
  • “Higher interest rates on cash reserves”
  • “Having a bank that is staffed by believers who understand where we are coming from”
  • “Possible change due to securing financing for new building”
  • “Change of bank ownership leading to less convenience and weaker customer service and online banking features”

What about the 78% of ministries that are not considering switching banks? What makes them stay with their current primary bank? Here are the main reasons they were not considering switching banks:

These findings confirm that only a small number of ministries are rate-sensitive. Many others are more concerned with developing a strong relationship with their primary bank. They value the ability to have issues resolved quickly, efficiently, and by personnel who share their values. Most respondents that cited “relationship” as a reason for staying with their primary bank are current ECCU ministry members. And they often find greater value in knowing that their deposits are invested in other ministries, providing a return of eternal significance beyond short-term interest rates.


Quarter-over-quarter comparisons reveal seasonal revenue trends. The following seasonal pattern seems to support long-held assumptions that ministries receive the lowest revenue during the third quarter and the highest during the fourth. These are the overall trends including all panelists:

Revenue Trends
Q1 2009 vs.
Q4 2008
Q2 2009 vs.
Q1 2009
Q3 2009 vs.
Q2 2009
Q4 2009 vs.
Q3 2009
Same and Higher
60% 76% 48% 81%
Lower Revenue 40% 24% 52% 19%

Another way to look at this is:

Year-over-year quarterly trends are more indicative of a ministry’s financial health. Over 60% of panelists consistently reported higher revenues for the three observed periods with a slight upward curve going into the fourth quarter of 2009. These are the overall trends including all panelists:

Revenue Trends
Q2 2009 vs.
Q2 2008
Q3 2009 vs.
Q3 2008
Q4 2009 vs.
Q4 2008
Same and Higher
61% 61% 63%
Lower Revenue 39% 39% 37%

Another way to look at this is:


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