Religious organizations survive by tithing its members. As church members slog through the most difficult economy in decades, religious institutions are among those organizations most hard hit by the downturn. In fact, an unusual number of religious schools have closed down through 2009. Not only do religious institutions finances vary perfectly with tithe payer income, whose income levels are down, but due to “boarder line” committed members forgoing tithing donations, the number of tithe payers is down.
Religious organizations are by no means immune to macroeconomic fluctuations, in fact, there is compelling evidence, as noted above, that a sour economy will decreases tithing donations. But do those continuing to pay tithing through a tough economy face greater income elasticity concerns? My opinion is “yes” there are added financial considerations both the tithe payer and the religious organization face during a recession.
How do some tithe payers and religious institution survive and even thrive through these difficult economic times while others tithe payers file bankruptcy and institutions dissolve is an interesting question. For more on this discussion, please see the link below entitled “problems with tithing.”