Funding the enterprise Jesus launched 2,000 years ago has become big business. Raising money for ministries is no longer something done behind the scenes while a ministry focuses on its calling. Fund raising is woven right into the fabric of our response to the Great Commission.

In 1985 (the latest year for which statistics are available), $79,840,000,000 was given to more than 330,000 gift-supported organizations in this country (statistics from the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel). Of that $79 billion, $37 billion was collected for religious causes.

The philanthropy industry, which handles these funds, now ranks as one of the top ten industries in this country. Obviously, giving a portion of our pay-checks has become a cultural distinctive in North America.

Not surprisingly, evangelicals are significantly represented in this mix. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a watch-dog organization of evangelical charities, annually receives an account of giving from its 341 member organizations. In 1985, more than $1,578,627,000 came into ECFA’S organizations. Of that amount, $1,163,000,000 was actually distributed for program services. The balance of $415 million was used for management, general expenses, and fund raising.

The billion-and-a-half dollars raised by ECFA organizations does not include income from the major television ministries in this country (Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, the PTL Club, and Oral Roberts). Because these organizations do not report their income, no one knows exactly what they raise. It is estimated, however, that at least another half-billion dollars is raised among them each year.

High-tech offering plates

How do Christian organizations get money for ministry? ...

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