Analysis Links Americans Abandoning Faith to Decrease in Charitable Giving


Americans are giving less to charitable organizations and declining religious affiliation is contributing to the decrease, according to a new analysis of philanthropic trends.

The “Changes to the Giving Landscape” report released this month by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Vanguard Charitable shows that the number of adults who gave to charity dropped from 66 percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2016.

The 66 percent figure held steady until the Great Recession — which spanned from December 2007 to June 2009 — after which it decreased sharply in 2010.

Researchers noted that the steep drop amounts to approximately 20 million fewer households giving to charity.

“The analysis drew on data from the Philanthropy Panel Study, a data set within the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which tracks the same 9,000 families’ charitable giving every two years,” Market Watch reported Tuesday.

The report’s co-author, Una Osili, who is associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly School, noted that the decline in religious practice in the U.S. has contributed to the decline in giving.

“Attending services is correlated with giving to religious organizations, but it’s also correlated with giving to secular groups,” Osili said.

Giving to charitable organizations is an encouraged practice within many religions, often bolstered by doctrines and long traditions.

Yet with recent documented decline in number of people who self-identify as Christian alongside the 9 percent increase in number of agnostics, atheists, and “nones” — those who no longer identify with any particular religious affiliation — charitable giving has also dropped.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter