Congregational Engagement Index: Life Satisfaction and Giving

by Albert L. Winseman, D. Min.
Religion and Social Trends Editor

Gallup's Congregational Engagement Index (discussed in the Feb. 5 edition of the Tuesday Briefing) is an analysis of a nationwide poll of members of all varieties of religious congregations.

In the Feb. 12 edition of the Tuesday Briefing, we discussed two measurable outcomes of congregational engagement: increased time spent volunteering and serving the community, and increased likelihood of members to invite others into the congregation. There are two other outcomes that Gallup has linked to congregational engagement: increased life satisfaction and increased financial giving to one's congregation.

Engagement and Life Satisfaction

Respondents were asked to respond to the statement, "I am completely satisfied with the conditions of my life" on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree." Fifty-five percent (55%) of engaged congregation members responded with "strongly agree, while 38% of non-engaged members and only 25% of actively disengaged members strongly agreed with the statement*.

Engagement and Giving

Gallup also asked respondents how much they give to their congregations each year. Those who are engaged give substantially more, both in percentage of income and in actual dollars, than those who are not engaged or actively disengaged. Based on a $50,000 per year median household income, Gallup found that engaged members give an average of $2,145 per year (4.3%) to their congregations, compared with $1,250 per year (2.5%) for members who are not engaged, and $750 per year (1.5%) for actively disengaged members.

Key Point

Leaders of faith communities who want to increase the "happiness quotient" of the congregants, as well as the level of financial support members provide, can accomplish both by focusing on a single concept: engagement.

*Based on telephone interviews with 729 adult members of a church, synagogue, or other religious faith community, aged 18 and over, conducted October-November 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3.6%.

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