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:

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

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