Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
Two articles came to my attention this morning that I think are important reads for non-profits in general but Christian non-profits in particular.
The first is a CNN report on a recently completed 10-year study called "A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000-2010". The article summarizes the reports findings with statements such as:
"…a variety of factors led to the decline, but overall, there are fewer Americans in the pews, and '… more than 1 in 4 American congregations had fewer than 50 in worship in 2010, and just under half had fewer than 100. Overall, median weekend worship attendance of your typical congregation dropped from 130 to 108 during the decade, according to the FACT surveys.'...Congregations are also having hard times financially, the survey found. In 2000, 31% of survey participants reported excellent financial health. In 2010, that number plummeted to just 14%."
The other article comes from the Vancouver Sun and highlights the fact that with changing demographics, volunteers are becoming more-and-more difficult to come by.
Both of these articles highlight real challenges facing non-profits today and into the future. But the first one also makes some interesting findings on the positive front that are the real reason I wanted to share these articles today. Here's two more quotes from that article:
"In the measured decade, churches, temples and synagogues told surveyors that congregations that were innovative and contemporary showed the highest amount of 'high spiritual vitality'...The recession, Roozen writes in the report, 'affected nearly every kind of congregation equally – large and small; north, south, east and west; financially healthy or struggling before the recession. One bit of good news was that one in 10 congregations reported that by the time of the survey, they had already begun to recover.'"
So there may be a light at the end of the tunnel as far as the recession is concerned, but I don't think "just riding it out" is the correct strategy either. I believe the concept highlighted in the CNN article of aiming for innovative and contemporary (contextualized and impactful) communications has a lot to do with being an organization that can actually thrive these days. People want to be involved in a cause - whether it's financially or as a volunteer - there no question about that. The challenge is to make your cause stand out in the din of voices already pulling at their time and money.
Good communications will be a part of that.