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Facts about FACT: Gearing Up for Our 2020 Survey
by Sarah Brown, Executive Director
Perhaps you’ve been on the Faith Communities Today (FACT) mailing list for many years, or perhaps you just subscribed. Perhaps you’re a denominational representative, or perhaps you’re a local faith community leader. Perhaps you’re a researcher, or perhaps you’re a journalist. Regardless of your connection to FACT, you may periodically wonder who we are, what we do, and more specifically – what is a FACT survey?
As we’re gearing up for our FACT 2020 survey to launch early next year, our third decadal survey and sixth overall, it seems more important than ever to share what this survey is, why it’s unique, and what insights it will offer into the religious landscape of the U.S.
What Are FACT Surveys?
FACT surveys are conducted every 5 to 10 years and are designed to gather robust data on American religion and congregational life. Through our wide range of interfaith partners, we are able to distribute the survey to a broad spectrum of religious bodies and faith traditions using a common core questionnaire that is modified to fit the terminology of each respective group. Each group owns their own data, but also contributes to a larger dataset that allows us to present a comprehensive picture of the ever-changing landscape of faith communities in the U.S.
What Makes FACT Surveys Unique?
They are based on insider knowledge of the groups being surveyed. Our joint research is conceived, conducted and analyzed by individuals with in-depth knowledge of their respective religious bodies (our partner organizations). This allows us to achieve something that few other national surveys can: study congregations using a solid national sample that spans the widest possible array of faith traditions. FACT partners are also able to add questions to the survey that are particular to the needs of their respective groups. This allows them to gather key information important to their internal research while also examining how their group fits into overall national findings and trends. All collected data is then merged together to form an interfaith study of congregational life.
What Insights Will the Survey Results Offer?
FACT surveys offer insights into pressing questions for congregations and religious leaders. Some examples of past topics that we have generated reports on include how congregations achieve greater vitality , how to attract and retain young adult members , what provokes congregational conflict and how it can be resolved , what builds engagement and loyalty among members of a congregation , and how American congregations teach and learn . In 2020, we will also be asking a series of culturally and societally relevant questions on security, political impact, staffing, sustainability, and much more.
How Can I Participate?
Your religious body and/or denomination may already be signed up to take part in the survey. To view a list of groups that have committed to participate, click here . If you don’t see your group listed, please contact us to inquire about partnership opportunities. Our goal is to survey 20,000 congregations in 2020!

Recent News and Research for Faith Leaders:
Next Issue
Please stay tuned for our July newsletter, featuring an article on challenges congregations face because of societal and cultural changes by Scott Thumma, FACT Chair .
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