Dollars and $ense: Uncovering the Socio-Economic Benefit of Religious Congregations in Canada
Since the earliest days of religious worship, houses of worship have stood as symbols of meaning and value. In Canada, the social, spiritual and communal value of local worshipping congregations has long been accepted. Despite this widespread qualitative acknowledgement, few studies have considered the economic impact that these congregations provide directly to their surrounding communities.
Drawing on recent research in the United States, and our findings in more than 75 congregations across the country, this paper offers the first quantitative national estimate of the socio-economic value of religious congregations to Canadian society. This study offers insight into the socio-economic benefit, or “Halo Effect”, that Canadian congregations and places of worship have on their surrounding communities.
The paper offers two estimates, ranging in economic scope from the basic impact of congregational spending, to a more generous figure resulting from the application of Social Return on Investment (SROI) models.
Religious congregations in Canada are estimated to contribute $15.5 billion to Canada's social economy.
For every dollar Canadian congregations spend Canadian society receives $3.87 towards the common good.
Canadian congregations contribute 10.4 times the benefit society would receive if they were taxed.
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