Nathaniel Moore, a management analyst, and his wife, Janet gave People's Congretional United Church of Christ $1,000 last year.

A welfare mother of three gave her Anacostia Baptist church $75.

During the same period, a Fairfax Jewish professional couple contributed $1,000 to their synagouge and another $1,000 to other Jewish causes.

A Silver Spring insurance agent and father of six last year gave $6,800 -- or 15 percent of his salary -- to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His children also contributed $700 in tithes on their allowances and outside earnings.

The Moores, who "believe in the theology of sharing," and the others reflect a heartening trend for area churches and synagogues: In the face of stiff inflationary demands on household budgets, people are maintaining their contribution rates.

In 1979, last year for which figures are available, Americans contributed a record $20.1 billion, or 46.5 percent of all charitable giving, to churches and synagogues, according to the American Association of Fundraising Counsel Inc. in New York City. In 1978, the figure for contributions was $18.4 billion, for the same 46.5 percent of charitable giving.

As for 1980, most clergymen interviewed locally said their congregations have accelerated giving to keep pace with inflation. Some said that more people are tithing -- which usually involves giving 10 percent of their gross salaries.

Generally, except for many fundamentalist Christians and members of a handful of other religious groups that regularly tithe, most persons interviewed said they give 4 to 6 percent of their salaries to their churches or synagogues.

In doing so they are maintaining a centuries-old tradition of support for contemporary western religious institutions that can be traced to Old Testament writings on the Jewish exodus from Egypt, "when God commanded the people to bring offerings of their precious metals, fine linens, oils and spices to build a temporary, movable sanctuary in the desert," said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Beth Sholom Congregation in Rockville.

Once a permanent temple was built, devout Jews each year gave one-tenth of their wealth to support the temple's priests and staff, according to Rabbi Arthur Bogner of Ezras Israel Congregation in Silver Spring. At that time, offerings usually were made in the form of grain, fruit or livestock, Bogner said.

But today it's hard cash, not olives or sheep, that keeps religious institutions afloat.

Just how much of that cash they get, judging from several dozen interviews with area residents who regularly attended religious services last year, can range from as little as a few dollars to the more then $10,000 given by a Seventh-day Adventist physician.

One Adams-Morgan couple, both retired teachers, tithed for the first time last year because they like their church's program to help the neighborhood poor. "When you're in this kind of neighborhood where you see the needs of the poor are just overwhelming," the woman said, "there's just no way you can avoid giving everything you can afford." They gave St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church $5,000.

Joyce Taylor, a part-time switchboard operator, always has tithed "because that's what the Bible tells us to do." Taylor, who belongs to New Light Baptist Church in Northeast Washington, contributed between $400 and $500 to her church last year.

Each week an Annandale father of several children gives $7 or $8 to Holy Spirit Catholic Church because, "That's all I can afford."

David Sable and the other members of Dharmadhatu Buddhist Meditation Center in Georgetown each pay $30 a month, because "on a prorated basis, $30 each is what it costs to run the center." Members also must perform tasks ranging from typing to hanging curtains.

Clergymen, faced with huge, energy-thirsty buildings and myriad other demands, have their own ideas about what congregation members should contribute -- and the solitary rattle of change in the collection plate is almost certain to give them the cold shivers.

"You have to pledge to the telephone company, the gas company and everyone else or it gets shut off," said the Rev. George Hill, who asks members of his Calvary Baptist Church at 8th and G streets NW to tithe. "Carrying the real ongoing support of the church requires financial commitment, and you don't do that by dropping a buck in the plate every time you're there."

The Rev. Kenneth McLean, on the other hand, would be overjoyed if members of Cedar Lane Unitarian Church in Bethesda would contribute 2 percent of their salaries to the church. Currently, members give an average of 1.5 percent of their salaries, McLean said.

Rabbi Joshua Haberman of Washington Hebrew Congregation believes contributing to the synagogue is "a moral obligation for Jews" whether they are members of a synagogue or not. "We see the synagogue as an advancement of Judaism in the community and the world and therefore expect all Jews to contribute to its support."

Fundamentalists such as the Rev. John Meares -- pastor of Evangel Temple in Northeast Washington, which counts many welfare recipients among its members -- except members of their congregations to tithe. "Tithing is not nearly as big as bite as the United States government takes from us," he said. "We believe the tithe is the Lord's. We believe it is a test of one's commitment or relationship with the Lord. No one is too poor to tithe."

Clergymen said they never would exclude a person from a congregation for failing to contribute, but several said they may "send a polite note" or otherwise approach the nongivers.

"I think if a millionaire is giving the church 50 cents a week, that's a spiritual problem the pastor ought to talk to him about," said the Rev. Jack Woodard of St. Stephen and the Incarnation.

Woodard, who asks members to tithe on their net salaries, said he approaches about six persons a year about their minimal contributions. "I find out if there's a problem financially or spirtually, and then we try to solve it," said Woodard. "They're always receptive."

The means by which money gets from people's checkbooks or wallets to its proper destination varies from congregation to congregation and religion to religion, but there are some generalities.

Christian churches often pass a collection plate from pew to pew during weekly religious services. Many churches ask members to use coded envelopes for these collections because they simplify income tax records and bookkeeping.

Jewish families usually pay annual membership dues to their synagogues on a sliding scale based on income, age, or other criteria, ranging from $50 for students to $500 for families in the Washington area.

Unlike most Christian churches, which collect offerings during weekly worship services, traditional synagogues "never pass the plate," according to Rabbi Stephen Listfield of Adas Israel Congregation in Northwest Washington. "[Traditional] Jews are forbidden to handle money on the sabbath or holy days and therefore make their offerings by mail or at other times during the week."

Annual pledges, dues, weekly offerings and even tithes usually comprise only a part of an active congregation member's religious contributions.

Christians typically may donate to missionary appeals, scholarship funds, building drives, outreach programs and even to the pastor's vacation or his children's college educations.

Local Jewish families said that in addition to membership dues, fees and special offerings, they contribute to building and scholarship funds and often send substantial sums of money to Jewish charities, such as the United Jewish Appeal.

Traditional Jewish families also make gifts to the synagogue in the name of a loved one on occasions such as weddings, bar mitzvahs or the anniversary of a parent's death, according to Listfield. Most families interviewed said they also give financial support to Israel.

According to Islamic custom, Moslems are required to give 2.5 percent of their annual savings to the charity of their choice and are encouraged to give donations above that to mosques or Islamic centers, according to Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Center. In Moslem countries, mosques usually are supported by the government. But some mosques in the United States require membership fees, Siddiqi said. CAPTION: Picture, Nathaniel and Janet Moore and their daughters Karen and Nichole "believe in the theology of sharing," and acted on that belief of donating $1,000 to their church last year. By Douglas Chevalier -- The Washington Post