Charitable Giving to Religious Causes

Although Britons self-report as fairly generous in their charitable donations, relative to other countries, they accord a low priority to giving to religious organizations. This is suggested by a fourteen-nation study undertaken this spring by GfK Verein for the Wall Street Journal Europe, in which some 1,000 Britons aged 15 and over were interviewed.

Just 7% of Britons claimed to donate to religious organizations, whereas 49% gave to child welfare, 47% to health research, 29% to anti-poverty programmes, 27% to disaster relief, 21% to animal welfare, 10% to education, and 8% to human rights organizations. Only environmental protection (6%) and culture and heritage (3%) scored worse than overtly religious causes.

Internationally, Britain’s contribution to religious organizations was lower than all other countries except Belgium (3%), Portugal (6%), and Sweden (1%). It stood at only half the European average (14%) and was dwarfed by the United States (35%). Indeed, in America giving to religious organizations far exceeded contributions to other types of charity.

The survey also addressed the extent to which charitable giving was motivated by religious beliefs. Unfortunately, GfK’s press release of 21 June does not cover the British responses to that particular question. The release will be found at:

http://www.gfknop.com/imperia/md/content/gfk_nop/newsandpressinformation/pm_gfk_verein_charity_eng_fin.pdf


British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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One Response to Charitable Giving to Religious Causes

  1. Ian Clark says:

    The UK 7% figure appears to be low compared to the long-running CAF/NCVO survey UK Giving at https://www.cafonline.org/pdf/UK%20Giving%202010_101210.pdf (see p18 on)

    In recent years the figure has varied from 11% to 14%. This of course only measures the proportion of donors, not their monetary giving. Consistently donors to religious causes give more than to any other cause, resulting in religious causes getting more £££ donations than most other causes like arts or education.

    Some recent much larger-scale government surveys have showed broadly similar results.

    There is also some anecdotal evidence that some respondents only include their gifts to say mission agencies or Christian Aid in the “religious” category, and do not include their gifts to churches at all.

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