Despite the struggling-to-recover economy, charitable giving by Americans continues to rise. But a smaller proportion of this money is going to religious organizations.
According to a newly released report by Giving USA, total estimated charitable giving in the U.S. rose 4.4 percent between 2012 and 2013, to $335.17 billion in contributions. The single largest contributor to the increase in total charitable giving was an increase of $9.69 billion in giving by individuals. In 2013, per capita giving by U.S. adults reached $1,016, and average U.S. household giving reached $2,974.
Giving increased for three of the four sources of giving. Only giving by corporations declined slightly in 2013, notes Tom Watson of Forbes, because of the slow rate of growth in pre-tax corporate profits in 2013, at 3.4 percent.
Unfortunately, charitable contributions to religion continue to slow. The report attributes this to the result of declining religious affiliation and attendance and religious-oriented charitable organizations categorized within other subsections.
But as The Economist points out, the sharp overall rise in charitable giving has been driven by the very rich, who tend to favor secular charities:
Most religious donations are no more than $40-100, says Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which provides data to Giving USA. Since average folks are feeling squeezed right now, it is remarkable that donations to religious causes have held up as well as they have.
Though the amount given to religious charities has risen from an inflation-adjusted $89 billion in 1987 to $105.5 billion in 2013, that represents a fall from 53 percent to 31 percent of the total charitable giving.