Churches suffered from plummeting donations after the recession began in 2008. But in the past year, a majority of congregations experienced giving increases because of a better economy, higher attendance and more church teaching on giving.

Trends in 2011 included higher budgets, which brought more church spending on staff salaries, missions, facilities and benevolence. Trends also included greater attention to fiscal transparency and board governance and a rise in electronic giving through technological tools, such as cell phone applications and automatic bank withdrawals.

The fourth annual “State of the Plate” constituency survey of more than 1,360 congregations revealed that 51 percent of churches saw giving increase in 2011, up from 43 percent in 2010 and 36 percent in 2009.

The survey was a collaborative research project sponsored by MAXIMUM Generosity, Christianity Today, and ECFA. The survey asked pastors, staff and leaders of all church sizes, theological leanings and regions to report on their church giving, budgeting and generosity initiatives, as well as programs to help families negatively affected by the economy.

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