A new study has revealed that religious and Christian giving has decreased by nearly 17 percent over the last two decades.
The number of Americans who have donated to charities has been on the decline for several years to date. A new study from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, titled The Giving Environment: Understanding Pre-Pandemic Trends in Charitable Giving, estimates that the share of Americans who donated to any charity fell from around two-thirds in 2000 to approximately 50 percent. However, there is a stark difference in donation decline between religious organizations and non-religious organizations. "
According to the report, 46 percent of US households made donations to religious causes between 2000 and 2004. That amount would decline severely in the following years, to the point of only 29 percent of households donating to religious causes.
Non-religious causes, by contrast, seemed to remain pretty consistent, with 57 percent of households donating to them between 2000 and 2008. However, that donation rate would slowly decline, to the point of only 42 percent of households contributing in 2018.
The reasons for such a decline are varied. An estimated third of the decrease is attributed to personal economic shifts, as 2008 was a financially disastrous year for many Americans. Other factors that may have changed things include decreases in interpersonal trust, empathy, and compassion.
The study notes that donation decreases were reasonably consistent across all racial categories, with Hispanic, Black, and White households decreasing their donations between 18 and 13 percent. Younger Americans were also more likely to stop giving financially, as compared to older Americans.
While this might seem concerning to those in nonprofit spaces, others note that it is merely a reflection of how many people make their donations. Una Osili told Ministry Watch that "while traditional philanthropic giving has declined, it is important to acknowledge that they may be donating to causes instead by newer means of fundraising such as crowdfunding and impact investing or other traditional ways like in-kind giving and mutual aid."