What matters most in ministry banking?


In November and December 2012, ECCU and CapinCrouse LLP, presented the 2012 Financial Forums for Ministries to educate ministry representatives about legislative, leadership, fundraising, and banking changes affecting ministries everywhere. Attendees were invited to complete a survey modeled after those sent to ECCU’s exclusive Ministry Advisory Panel (MAP)**.

132 ministry personnel from a wide variety of ministry types and sizes completed the survey. When asked about 2013 budget forecasting, 94% of survey respondents feel at least somewhat equipped to adequately forecast their ministry’s 2013 revenues and expenses. The concern most cited was uncertainty of the economy. On the topic of banking, while 84% of respondents would like their primary bank to share their values, when weighed against other dimensions of banking, such as customer service, access (convenience), and price, this dimension was given the lowest importance by the same respondents.

** The MAP is composed of ECCU member and non-member ministry staff and leaders representing evangelical Christian churches, businesses, schools, and other ministries. If you would like to join the panel, simply follow this link. This report was produced by ECCU’s research department.


132 ministry personnel completed the survey, resulting in a 95% confidence level with an 8.53% margin of error. The ministry types represented were:

The ministry roles represented were:

27% of respondents bank primarily with ECCU. The others bank primarily with Bank of America (11%), Wells Fargo (11%), Union Bank (7%), and others (44%).


Often, the financial leaders at Christian ministries cite their biblical mandate to be good stewards as the reason they do business with some of the largest financial institutions (i.e., to obtain better rates or more services than they could at smaller banks). However, many others consider it a matter of stewardship to ensure their ministry’s funds are not used to support causes contrary to Scripture. On this issue, here is where the ministry leaders who attended ECCU’s financial forums stand:

Question: How important is it that your primary bank shares your values?

  • Overall, 84% feel it is somewhat (41%) or extremely important (43%) that their primary bank shares their values.
  • Half of the respondents who stated that shared values were either not very much or not at all important also said that they hadn’t thought about their banking relationship in this way before.

These are some of the reasons cited by respondents as to why shared values are not very much or not at all important to them:

“We need to depend upon excellent local service including [picking up] large amounts of cash several times each week.”

“We don't have large cash reserves so we haven't thought much about it.”

“Sound fiscal financial backing and history are paramount when selecting a financial institution.”

”I'm mostly concerned about customer service and at this time not very happy with BofA.”

“I don't understand what you would do differently; I'd like to be educated.”

“I don't know why this is important.”

“Financial strength and loan capabilities”

“Finances are a more objective subject that depend more on system stability and strength rather than personal warmth.”

“Competence and excellence are more important to us than stated values.”


To further understand what ministry financial leaders value most in a bank, we asked them to rank these five dimensions of banking in order of importance for their selection of a financial/banking institution. The five dimensions are:

Customer Service—the bank’s ability to quickly and effectively fulfill its customers’ transactional requests through personal service with a friendly, professional attitude.

Customer Intimacy—the bank’s depth of relationship with its customers as evidenced by their understanding of customers’ needs and shared values.

Accounts and Services—the means by which the bank delivers value to its customers (e.g., the accounts and services are easy to understand, innovative and unique, safe and secure).

Price—the cost of accounts and services as reflected in fees, payment terms, interest rates, dividends, and quality.

Access—the means the bank provides for customers to receive and interact with its accounts or services (e.g., online/mobile banking, physical location, customer service hours).

Here is how these ministry financial leaders ranked these dimensions:

You might recall that 84% of respondents stated it was somewhat or extremely important that their primary bank share their values. Given that 80% of these same respondents ranked member intimacy as least important (this is the dimension that includes shared values), it made sense to test whether the expected correlation between these two variables was significant. We ran a Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient1 and found a strong correlation between the importance of shared values and member intimacy (rs=-.393, p=.000).

In other words, although the majority of survey respondents feel it would be best if their bank shared their ministry’s values, when weighed against other aspects of banking, values are their lowest consideration.

Not surprisingly, ECCU members were significantly more likely to prioritize member intimacy and shared values over the other aspects of banking (rs=.407, p=.000).

Here is how the dimensions ranked using the mean prioritization with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important. Therefore, the lower the mean, the higher the priority assigned to the dimension.


The uncertainty of the world economy, unemployment, growing congregational needs, and insufficient training can all be considerable sources of anxiety during a ministry’s budgeting season. Nonetheless, our survey respondents once again were very optimistic about their ability to predict their ministry’s 2013 revenue and expenses.

Question: How equipped do you feel to adequately forecast your organization’s revenue and expenses for the next fiscal year?

  • 94% feel at least somewhat equipped to adequately forecast their ministry’s 2013 revenues and expenses. This compares to 91% that felt the same way last year.

Below are some of the reasons given by respondents who feel not very equipped to forecast their ministry’s 2013 revenue and expenses:

“Not part of my focus”

“No training”

“Young, underfunded ministry”

“Still having to sort through what we have…”

“Limited experience in financial forecasting”

“It has been difficult the last several years, and I feel pessimistic about our ability to accurately forecast.”

“I need some help and expertise in this area of ministry. This is a new responsibility for me.”

“Economy unsure = unknown offering = unknown school enrollment”

The majority of those who feel extremely prepared cited their historical data and extensive experience as the reasons.Those who feel somewhat prepared primarily cited the economy as their concern.


The data clearly shows that ministry financial leaders would like their bank to share their values. Some stated they had never thought about their bank in these terms and instead considered it merely a vendor or a “means to an end.”

Although 84% of survey respondents would like their primary bank to share their values, when weighed against other dimensions of banking, such as customer service, access (convenience), and price, this dimension was given the lowest importance by the same respondents.

The exception was ECCU members. ECCU members understand the importance of shared values because they’ve experienced the difference it makes when their bank “gets it” (understands ministry).

One respondent who rated shared values as extremely important and ranked customer intimacy as most important stated: “I want to know the money my church gives to the organization is being used for ministry.”

This raises an important question for all ministry financial leaders to consider: What causes is your primary bank supporting with your ministry’s money?

If you were unable to attend this year’s forum but would like to tap into the expertise and insights delivered, visit www.eccu.org/resources-2012forums.

1 In statistics, Spearman's Rank Correlation Coefficient, is a measure of statistical dependence between two variables that are not dependent on a parameter. It assesses how well the relationship between two variables can be described using a monotonic function (a function between ordered sets that preserves the given order). If there are no repeated data values, a perfect Spearman Correlation of +1 or −1 occurs when each of the variables is a perfect monotone function of the other.


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