The number of UK adults donating money to religious causes (including places of worship) on a monthly basis in 2010/11 was 3,800,000, according to a report on UK Giving, 2011 published on 2 December 2011 by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). See their joint press release at:
The data derive from a module on individual giving commissioned by these two bodies and added by the Office for National Statistics to its regular public opinion omnibus. 3,364 adult Britons aged 16 and over were interviewed face-to-face in June and October 2010 and February 2011. The dataset will eventually be deposited at the Economic and Social Data Service.
Of the 58% of adults giving to charity in 2010/11, 13% donated to religious causes. This was the sixth most popular category after medical research (38%), hospitals (26%), children (24%), overseas (17%), and animals (14%). Below religion came disabled (11%), homeless (9%), elderly (8%), health (7%), schools (7%), environment (6%), sports (3%), and arts (1%).
However, when the actual amount donated to each cause is taken into account, religion occupied second place, with 16% of the total, just behind medical research on 17%. Then came children (11%), hospitals (10%), overseas (10%), animals (6%), health (5%), disabled (4%), schools (4%), homeless (3%), elderly (3%), environment (3%), sports (2%), and arts (1%). The median monthly donation to religious causes was £15.
These figures do not necessarily reflect the full extent of individual ‘religious’ giving. Many charities designated as non-religious in the survey may well have strong religious roots and/or current connections, while personal religious commitment may stimulate donations to a wider range of causes than just the overtly religious.
Also, there are other sources of income for charities besides individual donations, including legacies and earned income. The broader picture can be studied in NCVO’s UK Civil Society Almanac, 2010, based on 2006/07 data. This is a commercial printed publication, but a range of tables is also freely available at:
The categories used in the Almanac are not identical with those in UK Giving. But there is a classification for religion. Religious organizations in 2006/07 derived 62% of their income from individual giving (a higher proportion than any of the other 13 categories), with 15% from statutory sources, 13% internally generated, 8% from the voluntary sector, 2% from the private sector, and 1% from the National Lottery.