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American Congregational Giving Study, Congregational Profiles, 1993




Hoge, D., Zech, C., McNamara, P., & Donahue, M. (2020, August 20). American Congregational Giving Study, Congregational Profiles, 1993.


No church is entirely satisfied with the level of financial support that it receives from its members. For this reason, the Lilly Endowment commissioned a nation-wide study of giving in U.S. churches, which came to be known as the American Congregational Giving Study. One aspect was a five denomination study which included: Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist Convention, Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). A total of 125 congregations from each denomination were studied. The congregations were chosen from nine sampling regions, one in each of the nine U.S. census regions. Field workers personally visited each congregation in the sample. They had two tasks. First, they assisted the pastor in the completion of a Congregational Profile, which summarized the major socioeconomic characteristics, beliefs, programs and finances of the congregation. Second, they selected a random sample of 30 congregation members. Each of these was sent a Lay Questionnaire, which asked members about their personal religious beliefs, opinions about both their congregation and denomination and their personal socioeconomic characteristics. The data were collected into two separate data files, one containing the congregational profiles (ACGSCONG) and the other containing the responses from the member questionnaires (ACGSMBRS). The data from each congregational profile and that congregation's member questionnaires are easily merged through their common congregational id (Variable name CONGID).

The ARDA has added four additional variables to the original data set to enhance the users' experience on our site.

Data File

Cases: 625
Variables: 131
Weight Variable: WEIGHT

Data Collection


Funded By

The Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Collection Procedures

Self-administered survey, assisted by field worker

Sample and Population:
The sampling universe consisted of all U.S. congregations in each of five denominations: Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist Convention, Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Sampling Procedures

The sample size was limited to 125 congregations in each of the five denominations, for a total of 625 congregations. Nine sampling clusters, one in each of the nine U.S. census regions, aligned to the approximate geographic boundaries of Catholic dioceses, were selected. The sample was stratified by region, based on the portion of the denomination's congregations in each census region. In some regions the sample called for studying only one or two congregations in a particular denomination. Because of the expense and the difficulty of getting a random sample in such a situation, it was decided to require a minimum of four congregations per denomination in any region, and to assign smaller numbers to neighboring regions.

Response Rate:
84.8% of the congregations in the original target list cooperated. If a congregation refused it was replaced with a maximally similar church. The participation rates of our original sample of congregations were as follows: Assemblies of God 75.2%, Southern Baptist Convention 78.4%, Catholics 88.0%, ELCA 93.6% and Presbyterians 88.8%.

Over-sampling and weighting:
Because the distribution of congregation size in all denominations is greatly skewed, with a few large ones and many small ones, large ones were over-sampled so that enough cases could be secured to enable the analysis of the effect of congregation size. One-half of the sample congregations was drawn randomly from the top one-third of the distribution in the entire denomination (or from the denomination in that region if we had the information). The other half was taken randomly from the lower two-thirds. Before data analysis bias was removed by weighting the data. The following table shows the weights for each denomination (for the Assemblies of God, we had denominational data only by weekly attendance, not by membership, so we weighted by average attendance):

Assemblies of God: Congregation Membership and Weight
50 to 99 1.500
100 to 199 1.003
200 to 399 .674
400 to 699 .523
700 or more .417

Southern Baptists: Congregation Membership and Weight
50 to 76 1.094
77 to 147 1.313
148 to 219 1.236
220 to 358 1.038
359 or more .679

Catholics Congregation Membership and Weight
50 to 550 .865
551 to 1099 1.012
1100 to 2749 1.004
2750 to 5499 .840
5500 or more 1.635

ELCA Congregation Membership and Weight
50 to 100 2.500
101 to 175 1.594
176 to 350 1.022
351 to 499 .676
500 or more .496

Presbyterians Congregation Membership and Weight
50 to 100 1.067
101 to 200 1.603
201 to 300 .881
301 to 499 .821
500 or more .662

Principal Investigators

Dean Hoge
Charles Zech
Patrick McNamara
Michael Donahue

Related Publications

Hoge, Dean R., Charles Zech, Patrick McNamara, and Michael J. Donahue. (1996). Money Matters: Personal Giving in American Churches. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press

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