Passion for ministry at a bank survey: What does a bank with a passion for ministry look like?

SUMMARY

In April 2010 we asked members of ECCU's Ministry Advisory Panel (MAP)** what it means for a financial institution to have a passion for ministry. The most common response was that the bank understands the ministry’s mission and goals. 89% of ministries expressed that if they discovered their primary bank invested in or contributed to causes contrary to Scripture, they would be somewhat or extremely likely to reevaluate their banking relationship. We also asked about cash reserves. 38% of respondents have cash reserves goals of 3 months or more, and 39% said their cash reserves level is 20% or more below their goal.

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

PASSION FOR MINISTRY

ECCU has long believed that ministries are more likely to favor a financial institution which demonstrates a passion for ministry. Past surveys have provided mixed results in this area. To bring more clarity to this assumption, we asked the following questions:

 

Question: How important is it for your primary bank to share your passion for ministry?

  • 81% of respondent ministries thought it was somewhat or extremely important that their primary bank share their passion for ministry.
  • 59% of respondents thought it was extremely important.
  • 22% thought it was somewhat important.

 

Unlike ECCU, most financial institutions can’t guarantee that all their relationship/account managers share their customers’ Christian faith. But the faith of a financial institution’s employees is only one indicator. How does a bank demonstrate passion for ministry? To answer this question we asked:

What actions, behaviors, or attitudes characterize a financial institution that has a passion for ministry?

Panelists’ written responses were grouped thematically; each response could have been counted under multiple themes.

The strongest theme, identified in 20% of the responses, was the importance of understanding each individual ministry instead of understanding ministry in general. Some of the specific areas of ministry that our panelists would like their financial institution to understand are:

  • “Understanding of the church’s cash flows”
  • “…understanding the organization and the ministry it is involved with”
  • “One that sees that ministries have a lot of volunteers; we are not professionals”
  • “They understand FAITH...so it is not 100% about the bottom financial line. We are small, but with ECCU's help, we are growing and improving in many ways.”
  • “Personal conversations with bank executives in which they actually understand what we are doing.”
  • “…getting behind our vision for what the local church can and should be.”
  • “They communicate with us regularly. When new procedures come out, they check to see if those procedures would help us. They are consistent in offering training and management information.”
  • “They understand the unique issues that a non-profit faces. They can speak the language, converse and offer suggestions.”
  • “Understand the need and uniqueness of the organization’s mission.”
  • “Willingness to partner in activities that further our ministry”

In anticipation of another top theme, shared Christian values, which was identified in 13% of the responses, we asked the following three questions to explore this topic.

 

Question: When selecting your current primary bank, how much did the causes (such as organizations, charities, and initiatives) this bank invests in influence your decision?

  • 39% of respondents were not very or not at all influenced by the causes their primary financial institution invested in when they selected their current primary bank.
  • An equal number of ministries, 39%, were somewhat or extremely influenced by their current primary bank’s investments.

 

Question: How important is it to your ministry that your primary bank invests in or contributes to other evangelical ministries and causes (such as organizations, charities, and initiatives)?

  • 75% of respondents indicated that it is somewhat or extremely important that their primary bank contributes to evangelical ministries and causes.


 

Question: If you discovered that your primary bank invested in or contributed to causes contrary to Scripture, how likely is it that you would reevaluate your banking relationship?

  • 89% of respondents would be somewhat or extremely likely to reevaluate their banking relationship if they discovered their current primary bank supported causes contrary to Scripture.

The findings above demonstrate that approximately 60% of ministries surveyed don’t initially consider a bank’s investment practices or political/charitable agendas. However, 89% of them care that their investments do not support causes contrary to Scripture. Given that 63% of respondent ministries declared their primary bank is not a Christian institution, there is no guarantee that their invested dollars will support causes that align with Scripture.

CASH RESERVE GOALS VS. ACTUALS

Question: What is your cash reserve goal relative to your ministry’s annual operating budget?

  • 54% of respondent ministries have set their cash reserves goal at 3 months or more of their annual operating budget.

 

Question: How do your current cash reserve levels compare to your cash reserve goal?

  • 39% of all respondent ministries are below goal by 20% or more.
  • 33% of all respondent ministries are within +/- 9% of goal.

These results suggest that many ministries have set cash reserves goals that they have been unable to meet. They also suggests that many ministries would benefit from consultation with ministry banking experts to better determine their cash reserve needs and develop strategies to meet them.

 

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