Most American Donations Go To Religion Or Religious Organizations, Says New Data

According to a brand-new report, three-quarters of American donations go to a single cause: religious organizations. Data from the National Study Of American Religious Giving indicates that 73 percent of donated money from Americans goes to religion or religion-affiliated groups: from the Salvation Army and Catholic charities to churches and mosques. The same study adds that 55 percent of polled Americans say that their religious orientation is what motivates and inspires their donations.

“In the current nonprofit environment, where national conversations rightly are focused on outcomes and impact, our findings are an important reminder that identities and values play a critical role in shaping charitable choices,”said Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and co-founder of Connected to Give. “Donors keep both in mind when they decide where to make their gifts.”

It’s interesting to learn that the vast majority of Americans give the brunt of their donations to religious organizations; recent polls have indicated that we're a nation in which religious identification is on the decline. Back in 2012, The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism found that the number of Americans who claim they’re religious had dropped from 73 percent to 60 percent since 2005. Simultaneously, the number of Americans who identify as atheists rose all the way from 1 percent to 5 percent.

"For a very long time, religiosity has been a central characteristic of the American identity,” said Ryan Cragun, a University of Tampa sociologist of religion, to the Huffington Post at the time. "But what this suggests is that is changing and people are feeling less inclined to identify as religious to comply with what it means to be a good person in the U.S."

The conflicting study could suggest a number of things: that religious Americans tend to donate more to their institution that non-religious Americans do to other causes; that religion-affiliated charities like the Salvation Army are more popular for donors than their independent rivals; or, that, in stark contrast to what recent polls suggest, America remains as inclined towards religion as ever.

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