February 9, 2020: Holy Cow Survey News Part I

This is the first in a series of three weekly messages sharing insights from our recent all-parish assessment. All three will be posted with supplemental materials on our website at AllSoulsDC.org/governance.

Part 1: Who Took the Assessment? How Does it Work?

Last November, to better understand our parish’s unique characteristics, priorities, challenges, and opportunities, the broadest definition of All Souls’ current membership was invited to complete an online assessment administered and interpreted by Holy Cow! Consulting. Holy Cow works primarily with churches in mainline denominations, with the majority being Episcopalian.

Participants answered an array of questions, sometimes ranking priorities and other times answering how strongly they agreed or disagreed with sentiments. The majority of the results were then benchmarked against the data from 3,000 other churches who have completed the assessment. 

The 97 participants are equivalent to 75% of our average Sunday attendance (130). That response rate was very strong, according to Holy Cow, lending a high level of confidence to the results with just a ±4% margin of error.

Our pool of participants is statistically significant and seems to accurately reflect the nature of our church family and parish geography. It’s been said that we are increasingly becoming a “neighborhood church”, and that trend is reflected in the numbers, too:

45% of participants are 65 or older, and 23% are under 45 – about average when benchmarked against Holy Cow’s cohort.

The group is essentially evenly split male-female (51-49%), and 93% identify as Caucasian.

A higher-than-average 63% of participants live within two miles of the church. (Many churches in Holy Cow’s cohort are in less-urban communities.)

Our average household income is higher than most churches, too, and matches our neighborhood demographic.

That high income is likely thanks to our very high overall level of educational attainment. 67% of us have graduate degrees, higher than 99% of Holy Cow’s cohort.

Average household size, by contrast, is among the smallest in Holy Cow’s cohort. Only 6% of the participants have children under 25.

Finally, while nearly half the participants (46%) have been at All Souls for over a decade, a breakdown by tenure group reveals more have attended for 5 years or fewer (32%) than between 5-10 (22%), 11-20 (22%), or over 20, (24%).

This puts our average tenure at the lower end of Holy Cow’s cohort, likely reflecting the transitory nature of our neighborhood and Northwest D.C. in general.

The Holy Cow assessment is both unique and highly-trusted because of how it asks questions and benchmarks answers. This benchmarking is key to interpreting responses and identifying trends, challenges, and opportunities. It also makes for an extremely rich and dense trove of data.

In December, Holy Cow’s owner spent a half day with our vestry to begin interpreting the data. Members of the vestry are now working with Father Jadon to incorporate the detailed results into a broader mutual ministry review and report to the congregation.

We’ll share more about our Holy Cow responses and benchmarking next week. In the meantime, a fuller demographic report is available on our website at AllSoulsDC.org/governance.
Last Published: February 7, 2020 11:44 AM
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