Home Christian News Religious Donors Keep Giving to Houses of Worship and Beyond Amid Inflation

Religious Donors Keep Giving to Houses of Worship and Beyond Amid Inflation

(Image courtesy Givelify)

(RNS) — Religious Americans are continuing to give to their houses of worship — and to other causes — with money and in-kind donations despite rising costs for daily living, a new report shows.

More than 8 in 10 (81%) faith-based givers who donated money in 2023 gave funds
to houses of worship, and 60% gave $1,000 or more, according to “Giving in Faith: Exploring Key Trends in Religious Giving,” a joint 2024 report from Givelify, a mobile and online app, and Indiana University’s Lake Institute on Faith & Giving.

Most religious donors (81%) gave the same amount of money (or more) to their congregations in 2023 as in 2022.

A similar percentage of religious donors (82%) reported that they made in-kind gifts, such as physical items to places of worship, registered nonprofits, informal community groups or directly to people who had a need.

By viewing the philanthropy of people of faith beyond just their congregations, researchers have gained a wider sense of how much and why they share their money and their time, said Wale Mafolasire, founder and CEO of Givelify, an Indianapolis-based company that launched in 2013.

For example, 48% of faith-based givers who made donations gave money directly to friends, neighbors, relatives and others in need. Describing those direct monetary gifts, 70% reported donating to family members, 61% to friends and 60% to strangers.

“When we expand that definition to include not just what they’re giving to their place of worship, but also what they’re giving in kind and to other members of the community and to their members, we’re seeing that people of faith are probably the most generous in the United States of America,” said Mafolasire, whose company runs an app used by congregants and others to make donations to nonprofit organizations.

The report’s findings are based on responses from 2,000 religious Americans and 980 faith leaders in the country. The vast majority of the respondents were Christians.

The research included an oversample of African American and Black faith givers in order to gauge perceptions on the value of houses of worship to their communities. Forty-four percent of the respondents who were people of faith were Black or African, while 48% were white. The racial composition of the faith leaders’ congregations were 45% Black or African, 34% white or European and 19% multiracial (or with no more than 80 percent of a single race or ethnicity).

“There’s an increase in the number of places of worship, especially within the African American segment, that are taking a more active role of providing safety net programs to members of their congregations, and also nonmembers or members of the local community,” said Mafolasire.

Black people comprise about 80% of Givelify app users, and about 80% of congregations using Givelify are predominantly Black.

According to the faith leaders surveyed for the report, predominantly Black congregations were more likely than mostly white congregations to offer elderly support services (60% vs. 46%), outreach programs for people in prison (35% vs. 17%) and supplemental educational support, such as GED classes and tutoring (46% vs. 29%).