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Data collection

Data collection helps us understand and assess the progress of our parishes and the diocese's mission and vision. It is used at all levels to evidence mission initiatives, set budgets and apply for funding and grants. Data also helps resources to be allocated fairly across the diocese.

The more complete the data is, the better the information that can be derived from it and the better the decisions that can be made using it.

There are a number of data collection exercises which take place throughout the year - they are summarised below.

Timetable of data collection

Please click on the links below for further information

January - March: Statistics for Mission
March - May Annual meeting returns:
  • Churchwarden admission forms
  • Parish officer updates
  • Safeguarding questionnaire
  • Electoral Roll
  • Annual report and financial statements
March - June Return of Parish Finance
January - June Energy Footprint Tool
October - November Attendance and Income Surveys

Statistics for Mission

Statistics for Mission asks for a range of data relating to the mission of your parish and how it has engaged with its congregants, visitors and community during the previous year.

This data can actually be entered throughout the year, however the deadline for completion is January - this is usually extended to March if insufficient returns have been submitted.

Statistics for Mission data includes the attendance data collected in the previous year's attendance survey, so if your parish has submitted this in time the attendance data will already be entered into the system for you.

Statistics for Mission data is submitted via the online Parish Returns system. The person entering the data will require a login to access the system - please contact if you do not have a login. You can also download a PDF version of the questionnaire from the Parish Returns home page to help you understand what data is required.

Annual meeting returns

Building on the changes brought in due to the pandemic, we will again be collecting annual meeting data (APCM pack) online. We will be collecting all elements online, including churchwarden admissions forms.

The links to the various elements required are listed below:

  1. Churchwarden admission forms
  2. Dates of 2024 Churchwarden visitation services
  3. Safeguarding questionnaire
  4. Electoral roll
  5. Annual report and financial statements upload

Churchwarden admissions

Once Churchwardens have been elected at your Annual Meeting, they will need to sign a declaration form which states that they will discharge their duties faithfully and diligently and that they are not disqualified from being chosen. 

The elected Churchwardens need to sign and submit their own online form which can be found on the diocesan website. Please direct them to this page – they simply select the relevant archdeaconry and fill in the details on the form. 

Confirmation of a successful submission will be sent to the email address provided on the form and can be forwarded to the PCC Secretary if required.

If for any reason the Churchwarden cannot complete the online form, a paper copy with a prepaid envelope can be requested from your Archdeacon’s PA.

Churchwardens must still attend an Archdeacon's Visitation as this is when they are legally admitted into the office. The notice and dates for the 2024 visitations can be found here.

Parish officers

Confirmation of other key roles in the parish (PCC Secretary, Treasurer, Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Gift Aid Secretary, Deanery Synod representatives) will be done through the diocesan Contact Management System (CMS), via a process called a Place Audit.

Parishes have already designated a Data Co-ordinator who will be sent a link to the data we currently hold on the roles mentioned above at the beginning of April. They will then be able to confirm and/or update the details held on the system. A user guide can be accessed by clicking this link.

If you are unable to find the original link, please contact


The annual safeguarding questionnaire is a straightforward online form which can be completed by following this link.

Electoral roll

Electoral roll figures can be added to the 2023 Statistics for Mission return at after Easter.

Annual report and financial statements

Digital copies should ideally be uploaded to the diocesan Dropbox, ensuring that the parish's accounts and Safeguarding Co-ordinator's report are included. 

If you need to send paper copies, then please forward them for the attention of Daniel Bainbridge to St John's House, 155-163 The Rock, Bury BL9 0ND. If you require a prepaid envelope, please contact

Return of Parish Finance

The Return of Parish Finance is a standardised format of your parish accounts. While this may seem like a duplication of effort, it is important that this data is provided so that the diocese and the Church of England nationally can analyse their overall financial positions.

The Return of Parish Finance is again collected via the Parish Returns online system. The person entering the data will require a login to access the system - please contact if you do not have a login. You can view a PDF version of the questionnaire to help you understand what data is required.

Many church finance applications (e.g. Finance Co-ordinator, My Fund Accounting) can create the Return of Parish Finance directly from the data already in the system.

Energy Footprint Tool

The Energy Footprint Tool (EFT) helps parishes to identify the carbon footprint of their buildings (both churches and other buildings such as halls or community centres) as well as their overall energy efficiency. Further details on how to enter the required data can be found in this EFT Instructions document and this short instructional video.

Data for the previous year is collected in the first half of the year so it can be analysed during the second half.

EFT data is again submitted via the online Parish Returns system. The person entering the data will require a login to access the system - please contact if you do not have a login. You can view a PDF version of the questionnaire to help you understand what data is required.

Attendance and Income Surveys

These surveys both take place during October of each year.

Attendance Survey

The purpose of the attendance survey is to get an estimate of a parish's relative numerical strength, both in terms of its core congregants and also the parish's wider connection to its community. We therefore ask for a count of the parish's regular attendees (those who attend a worship service at least once a month) as well as the total attendance at each service (i.e. including occasional visitors from the wider community such as guests at baptism services or children and staff at school services).

Data is submitted to the diocese via an online form. This downloadable PDF can be used to collect the data during the survey period and then entered into the online form.

Data collected in the Attendance Survey will be imported into the October attendance section of the Statistics for Mission return to avoid you having to enter the data twice.

Income Survey

The income survey is collected to get an estimate of the relative giving potential in parishes. The survey is anonymous and no one in the parish sees the completed forms as the count is performed by members of the deanery standing committee.

Each regular attendee (those who attend a worship service at least once a month) fills in an individual form, simply selecting one option from a number of income ranges - a sample form can be downloaded here. This form is then placed in a sealed box in the church. This box is then passed on to the deanery team for counting after the survey period has ended.

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