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'Faith and Philanthropy' Report Shows That
Donors to Religion Are More Generous Overall

New report measures impact of faith-based giving and volunteering

June 27, 2002, NEW YORK CITY -- A new report released today by Independent Sector and the National Council of Churches details the extraordinary philanthropy of America’s givers to religion. Faith and Philanthropy: The Connection Between Charitable Behavior and Giving to Religion reveals that households that give to religion are the bedrock of giving to the nation’s nonprofit organizations. Households that give to both religious and secular causes give more money and volunteer more than households that give to only one type of organization.

Nearly 70 percent of households give to religious congregations. Households that give to both religious congregations and secular organizations give over three times ($2,247) more than do households that give to only secular organizations ($623).

Faith and Philanthropy explores the links between faith and charitable giving and illustrates how the values and beliefs of religious-giving households influence their decisions to make donations and volunteer to all types of nonprofit organizations.

  • Fifty-two percent (52%) of all households give to both religious congregations and secular organizations, but those households account for 81 percent of all donations;

  • Households that give to both types of institutions give more to religion ($1,391) compared to households that only give to religion ($1,154); and

  • Fifty-five percent (55%) of dual-giving households give to at least two other kinds of organizations.

“The extraordinary generosity of religious givers knows very few boundaries,” said Sara E. MelÚndez, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “Donors to religion are more generous than those who give only to secular organizations. This research clearly demonstrates that their giving to religion does not detract from giving to secular causes but inspires them to give to all causes,” added Dr. MelÚndez.

The Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, NCC deputy general secretary for research and planning, commented that “the findings corroborate and extend the research results we’ve observed over several decades.  They are remarkable not only in their strength but also in their consistency across income, region and field of giving.  This fine study cries out for more of the same.  The well-being of our society and our world requires that we understand and foster generosity.”

Robert W. Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, board member of Independent Sector, and author of the foreword of the report, said he was not surprised that people who give both to religious congregations and secular organizations give more than people who give only to secular organizations, because “in our traditions we learn the concept of stewardship, philanthropy and giving.  But the gap was greater than I had anticipated.

“In our houses of worship, we hear over and over again that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive,’” he said.  “We also hear stories about how giving makes a difference.”

“As the role of the religious community is being debated in the public policy arena through faith-based initiatives, Faith and Philanthropy offers new incentive for religious leaders to expand their congregants’ capacity for even more generosity and civic involvement,” Dr. Edgar added.

  • Distribution of Donations by Givers to Religion by Subsectors
    The top five secular recipients of giving by religion donors are: health, human services, youth development, education, and arts and culture. Fifty-three percent (53%) of givers to religion also donate an average yearly contribution of $249 to health organizations such as hospitals. Forty-seven percent (47%) donate an average of $336 to human service organizations. For every cause, the vast majority of support for secular organizations is given by households that also give to religion. For instance, 78 percent of all contributions to education come from givers to religion. And 74 percent of individual support to arts and culture comes from households that give to religion.

  • Giving by Region
    Among all contributing households, the highest average annual contribution comes from households in the West, about 45 percent greater than the average in the Northeast ($1,889 to $1,298). Givers in the West also donate the highest contribution ($929) to secular organizations. Over 92 percent of Midwest households give to religious congregations, followed by 88 percent of Southern households, 87 percent of Northeast households and 79 percent of households in the West.

  • Volunteering by Religious and Secular Givers
    People who volunteer with both religious and secular organizations also give more time to organizations than those who volunteer with either kind alone. Approximately one in ten Americans are dual volunteers, and their time makes up 30 percent of all volunteering hours. Over 54 percent of all volunteers serve only at secular organizations, 25 percent volunteer at religious congregations only and 20 percent volunteer at both. Faith and Philanthropy shows the striking difference in volunteering rates between those who only volunteer at religious congregations versus those who volunteer at both religious and secular institutions. Volunteers who serve at religious congregations give an average of 10 hours per month. Volunteers who give time to both give an average of 23 hours a month.

Faith and Philanthropy: The Connection Between Charitable Behavior and Giving to Religion is based on analysis from Independent Sector’s Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 2001 national telephone survey of 4,200 adults.

Faith and Philanthropy is available for $15.95 for Independent Sector members and $19.95 for non-members plus shipping and handling. To order call 1-888-860-8118 or log on to .

Independent Sector is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of more than 700 national organizations, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable groups in every state across the nation. Its mission is to promote, strengthen, and advance the nonprofit and philanthropic community to foster private initiative for the public good.

The National Council of Churches, founded in 1950, is the leading organization in the movement for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 36 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox member communions and denominations include more than 50 million persons in 140,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.


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