Financial support of religious causes is a big part of American giving, but it should not be viewed as an unchanging structure.
Speaking during the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 49th International Conference on Fundraising, Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, cited a variety of studies on religious giving in the United States.
The studies address the following:
- Is religious giving falling? No. During the past 40 years, religious giving has grown 1.3 percent per year but as a share of total giving has fallen from one-half to less than one-third.
- Do most Americans tithe? No. Just 7 percent of adults donate at least 10 percent of income.
- Do members of some faiths give more than others? Yes. However, religious attendance is more important in understanding these differences.
- Do wealthy persons give less to religion? No. Wealth has little or no effect on the probability of religious donating.
- Do well-educated persons give less to religion? No. Education seems to have a positive effect on religious giving.
- Do minorities give more to religious organizations? No. Differences observed at racial levels are attributable to differences in income/wealth or religious attendance.
- Do women give more than men? Yes. Female-headed households are more likely to donate to religions, and female-headed households donate more in most income groups.
- Do Southerners/people in rural areas give more? Yes and No. They give more to religion on average, but not in general donation levels.