Study: Religious people giving more to charities
Newly released data show that the religious among us are more likely to give to charities than those who do not identify with a faith tradition.
The data result from the Philanthropy Panel Study, an ongoing project at the University of Indiana’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy that tracks U.S. household giving.
David King, director of the Institute on Faith & Giving at the school, said the “Giving USA Special Report on Giving to Religion,” released on Oct. 26 by The Giving Institute, reaffirms what many researchers in the field have long known: that there is a “substantial connection between religion and giving.”
“Religious affiliation really matters,” Mr. King said. “Someone with a religious affiliation was more than two times more generous than someone without a religious affiliation. And among those with a religious affiliation, religious intensity really matters. Those who attend services were much more likely to give, whether it’s monthly or weekly. We really see the connection grow with continued involvement in a religious community.”
Not surprisingly, religiously affiliated households are much more likely than nonreligious households to donate to religious institutions defined in the report as congregations, denominations, missionary societies and religious media.
But religious people also contribute to other types of charity at similar or higher rates than their secular counterparts.
The report says there is a “staggering difference between the charitable giving practices of the religiously affiliated and those with no religious affiliation.” While 62 percent of religious households give to charity, only 46 percent of nonreligious households do.
On average, religiously affiliated households donate $1,590 to charity annually, while households with no religious affiliation contribute $695.
And in 2016 religious institutions received more than twice as much charitable giving, $122.94 billion, as any other industry in the nonprofit sector. The next-highest category, education, received $59.77 billion in contributions.
Religious giving accounts for 32 percent of all U.S. charitable giving, the study found, but that number may underestimate the influence that religious belief has on charity.
The study used a narrow definition of “religious giving” that does not include donations to faith-based nonprofits that provide human services, such as Catholic hospitals or universities.
Some studies, using a more expansive definition of “religious giving,” have estimated that faith motivates as much as 75 percent of all charity in the United States.