Reading the 11-Year Report
A congregation’s 11-year report can be a useful tool for pastors and lay leaders to identify crucial trends.
Understanding Your Eleven Year Report
By Rev. Andrew Warner
“With the right data, we can figure out where to go”
Years ago, my mom and then-young son were driving in the car. My mom wanted to test my son’s knowledge of getting around, so she said, “I think I’m turned around. Do you know the way home?” My son had his own question, “Nana, do you know how to get to Kopp’s?” (Kopp’s is our local custard stand). “Yes,” she said. “Well, let’s go there. I know the way home from Kopp’s.”
As my son knew at a young age, critical data-point data can help you find where you need to go. An “Eleven Year Report” can help you in your generosity leadership.
Every year our congregation self-reports information about their membership and finances to the UCC’s Center for Analytics, Research, Development, and Data (CARDD). The CARDD office regularly turns this data into accessible reports such as a Statistical Analysis of the UCC and more targeted reflections (learn more here – https://www.ucc.org/what-we-do/office-of-the-general-minister-president/center-for-analytics-research-and-development-and-data-cardd/statistics-and-reports/).
The Eleven Year Report organizes the data CARDD receives into valuable views of what is happening within a congregation and allows you to see how that data compares to the average in our conference.
When looking at the report, you might pay attention to the following:
- Look at the “Avg Weekly Attendance” column. What pattern or trend do you see over time for your congregation? Compare the “% change 2015-2020” of your congregation to that of the conference.
- Look at the difference between the “Total Expend” and the “Pledges and Offerings” column. Most congregations have a gap between these numbers covered by investment earnings, building rental, and grants. If there is a gap, how does your congregation meet it? Is the gap growing or declining over time? Can you sustain it?
- Several columns capture the way congregations fund mission and ministry beyond themselves. Start by looking at “Basic Support,” which is at the core of Our Church’s Wider Mission. Basic Support funds the mission and ministry of our conference and the national setting of the UCC. The column labeled “Basic Supp% Curr Local” compares your commitment to Basic Support to the funds spent on your congregation itself (“Current Expenses”). Does this % reflect the level of your commitment to the UCC? How does your congregation compare to the average of congregations in our conference?
- The additional mission columns include “TOT Other UCC Giving” (which consists of all other gifts to the UCC, such as the special mission offerings like One Great Hour of Sharing) and “Other Gifts” (which includes contributions to charities outside of the UCC). You can use the information on your report plus the information on the conference’s report to create a “Church Dollar Graphic” (attached sample spreadsheet can help you create it). Are you spending your dollars in ways that reflect your values and vision? How do the choices of your congregation compare to the average of congregations in our conference?
The Eleven Year Report gathers lots of data points to create a picture of your congregation over time. Understanding the trends in your congregation, particularly in relation to the conference as a whole, can help focus the attention of a council or consistory. Once we know where we are, we can figure out how to get where we need to go.