The Faith Communities today 2010 national data set brought together 26 individual surveys of congregations. 24 were conducted by or for partner denominations and faith groups, representing 32 of the country’s largest denominations and traditions. The Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP) developed a common core questionnaire of just over 150 questions consisting of items from the FACT 2000 , FACT 2005 and FACT 2008 surveys, plus a section on the 2008 recession.
Using the common questionnaire, CCSP partners conducted their own (typically by mail or online) surveys of a representative random national sample of their own congregations. Usually a congregation’s leader completed the questionnaire. CCSP also conducted a national survey of nondenominational congregations based on a random sample drawn from several mailing and marketing lists purchased from national vendors. Finally, CCSP contracted with a denominational agency to survey a sample of non-partner denomination congregations, also based on a random sample drawn from several mailing and marketing lists.
For purposes of the overall national analysis, the 26 sub-surveys were combined in such a way that, through the use of statistical weights, each partner denomination and faith group and each non-partner cluster of congregations is represented in the national FACT 2010 data proportionate to its representation in the total population of congregations in the United States. This aggregated data set includes responses from 11,077 congregations and over 120 denominations. Return rates were good for surveys of this type — in the 40% range. Sub-surveys with lower return rates are noted in the appendix. Sampling error for a survey such as this can only be roughly estimated. We believe a conservative estimate is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level.