Is it possible to put a price on faith? The Halo Canada Project — which has been tackling this question for the past five years, with research in over 80 congregations around the country — released a study in May showing that faith communities contribute $15.5 billion to the national economy each year.
“When we explain that for every dollar congregations spend, the wider community gets back $3.87, that’s something that somebody in the neighbourhood can understand and see that it’s having tangible value,” says Mike Wood Daly, director of the project.
The dollar amount includes ways churches give directly to their communities, such as offering parking; acting like recreational centres, daycares or schools; building affordable housing; helping new immigrants and refugees settle; and even contributing to storm management through their green spaces.
Halo Canada also worked on a report with EDGE, the United Church’s network for ministry development. Released in February, the report shows that the United Church alone contributes $1.6 billion annually to the economy.
EDGE executive director Rob Dalgleish says that being able to quantify this impact is crucial for congregations looking to raise money from local stakeholders, who want to know how their donations will be put to good use.
“Inherently, people can see the good that’s happening within their own community of faith,” adds Carla Leon, new initiatives manager at EDGE. “They can feel the social and spiritual impact they’re making in the neighbourhood. But to see it concretely as a number, I think it’s really validating.”
This story first appeared in Broadview’s November 2020 issue with the title “Study shows monetary impact of faith.”
Albina Retyunskikh is a writer based in Montreal.
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